If I'm not careful, every year by mid-November, my good self-care habits and intentions fly out the window as I slog away at work and try to fit one more thing into my schedule. But with each trip around the sun, I have become increasingly sensitive to stress, and my body, mind, and spirit will not be ignored.
For instance, if I work through lunchtime, instead of eating when I'm hungry, my blood sugar dips low and I'm tired, dizzy, cranky, and get a headache.
If I stay up too late hunched over my computer--to get just one more thing done--I have a difficult time falling asleep and whatever sleep I do get leaves me feeling not very well rested.
If I fail to move my body and meditate each day because "I don't have time" my joints get sore and creaky, my outlook is negative, and I feel stressed, out of shape, and have low energy.
But it's true that we all have so much to do and so many places to go this time of year. So how can we have a satisfying holiday experience while still practicing good self-care habits?
What To Do?
There are two ways that I can think of to have a holiday season that aligns with who you are and how you want to feel and still leaves room to take care of yourself and enjoy this festive time.
1. Ask for what you want and need. For example: maybe you could ask your spouse, roommate or older child to make dinner more often, ask the kids to step it up with household chores, ask a friend if she could help you decorate for a party.
2. Say no and let go...of the idea of the "perfect" holiday. In order to slow the season down, you'll have to say no to some things. Maybe you can bake 2 kinds of cookies, not 10. Maybe you can sign up for one charity event, not three. Maybe you don't need to put up quite as many lights outside as you usually do. Maybe you get Chinese takeout on Christmas Eve instead of that huge Italian dinner you make that everyone loves, but leaves you exhausted. (I'm looking at you, Mom.)
When I was younger, I wanted to give my kids and family the perfect Christmas experience. The month of December was a blur of church events, recitals, and activities that left me with little time for self-care.
I always stayed up late on Christmas Eve wrapping gifts or doing last minute preparations. I'd get up early, serve homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, have my whole family over for dinner around 2pm, followed by a 5pm dessert open house when extended family and friends would come over. I would be dizzy with exhaustion the whole day and couldn't wait for it to be over!
Then one year, I was actually sick with a fever, but still had to do all the things. That did it! My idea of a perfect Christmas had made me sick. So I smartened up and began to do less and ask for help more.
Questions To Design a Better Holiday
Rather than live the season the same way year after year, what if you really did things differently? I invite you to sit with yourself and ask yourself these questions and then shape the next month in a sensible way that will leave room for self-care, wonder and delight.
Write down your idea of a memorable holiday season: how would you feel, what would you have time for?
Which holiday traditions do you or your family most look forward to each year? (Baking cookies with the kids or with friends, advent readings, attending a play or religious service, caroling, dinner with family…)
What things could you let go of this year?
What does your self-care routine look like during the holiday season?
What would your ideal daily and weekly self-care routine look like during this time? Be specific.
In order to have a ___________________ holiday season, one in which I take care of myself, enjoy the festivities with my loved ones, I need to: (Hints: ask for help from partner, kids, don’t sign up for as many events/activities, etc.)
Don't Put Yourself Last on the List
As you're thinking about the next month, make sure you make yourself a priority. No, this is not selfish! Women especially can struggle to take care of themselves. But guess what? You need to take care of yourself for you and for your family's sake. Don't wait to see what everyone else is doing before you decide when you can "fit in" self-care.
Have you ever heard that story about the rocks and sand in the jar? If you put all the sand (unimportant, trivial matters) into the jar (your daily schedule) and then try to fit in the rocks (the priorities) you can't do it. But if you put the rocks into the jar first, you can fit the sand around them. Your self-care is a rock. Put it into the jar first.
These are my Everyday Self-Care 7
1.Move your body
2.Drink enough water
3.Eat healthy food
4.Spiritual Practice (examples: prayer, meditation)
5.Get enough sleep/rest
6.Do something you enjoy
OK, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you are designing your holiday season this year.