The holidays are one of the most fun, enjoyable, and exciting times of the year. But all that fun does not necessarily come without a toll on us. The holiday season is one of the most stressful times for some people and that stress can affect our overall well-being. In a season of giving, it may seem counter intuititve to engage in self-care, but really it is essential. If we do not take time to take care of ourselves, we can set ourselves up for exhaustion, poor nutrition, resentment, stress, frustration, and disappointment. We need to take care of ourself to avoid holiday burnout. Here are a few suggestions to keep you on track for enjoying the holiday season.
Eat Healthy: Oh the holiday food. It is so good and we think we can just eat on, but it is never just one and having lots of unhealthy foods daily is not healthy for the body. If you are having a hard time resisting, at least bulk up on the healthy foods. It might be a good time to start a food mood journal. That way you can track how all the extra sugar is affecting your body.
Exercise: You do not need to wait until January 1st to begin to workout. If you already workout regularly, do not lessen up in the holidays. It is important for overall well-being to engage in physical exercise most days of the week.
Sleep: We need to sleep. We never catch up on our sleep. Whatever you believe you need to stay up for can wait. You will be much more efficient after sleeping.
Let go of expectations: There can be a lot of expectations around the holidays ranging from the gift you thought you were going to get or give, to what the party is going to be like. Let it all go. When we have expectations about situations and people, went set ourselves up to be disappointed. Just enjoy the season without putting expectations on it.
Learn to say no: You do not need to attend, host, cook, or give extra gifts all season long. It is perfectly acceptable to say no. Remember quality (time together) vs. quantity this time of year.
Schedule a date night: Do something to get out with your spouse and possibly friends that can be focused on just spending fun quality time.
Determine your priorities with your spouse: It is important to sit down and decide together as a family what is important for your family with the holidays. Together decide where you will go, how long you will stay, who will get gifts, and how much you will spend. Decide together how you want to create your holiday traditions.
Do not over schedule: As a mom with young kids, I think about all the amazing things to do this time of year. But the reality is I do not need to attend several breakfasts with santas, the train rides, cutting down the tree, caroling, cookie baking, homemade gifts…you get the point. You do not need to do it all. Just being together as a family is enough. Please do not feel like you need to keep up with everyone else. Do what you want to do as a family (see above).
Be present: Be present where you are. Do not worry about the past. Let go of the anger or resentments. Do not worry about the future. Just enjoy the moment.
Take some alone time: Use your down time wisely. Spend time relaxing the way that you like to relax. Pick up your book again, watch your favorite holiday movie, take a bath etc.
Be grateful: It is easy to get caught up in all chaos of the holidays, but it is about being grateful for what you have, enjoying family time, and being together. We create memories during the holidays by spending time together. Focus on the positives.
When we take time for self-care, we “fill up our cup”. When fill up our own “cup” we can then pour into others. Taking care of yourself will help you take some time to be the person you want to be. Remember, it is about making different choices, staying present and focusing on what matters. My hope is though, whatever you decide to do this holiday season, is that everyone takes time to take care of themselves so that they can fully enjoy this time of year.