Hey you, do you find the holidays a bit stressful? Yeah. Me too. With all the gift buying, juggling all the ideas for DIY projects I get (homemade chai tea mix! Homemade lotion bars! Cookie tins!), card writing, cookie making and trying to balance giving to others while simultaneously taking care of myself, I find it all wonderful and also mega overwhelming.
I know there are a lot of tips out there for elaborately wrapping your gifts while whipping up a homemade peppermint mocha and making homemade cards adorned with tiny pompoms you’ve made yourself. But alas, we are not a Hallmark family around here. Things around here are a little more casual and a hell of a lot more messy.
So when I’m preparing to get through the holidays, I try to think about the philosophy I want to bring to the holiday table. I want to be present, enjoy myself, feel love and be loving. When I ask myself how I can do that, it has less to do with meticulously organized to do lists (although I do love those as well) and more to do with focusing on what true self care looks like for me. That’s how I own my holiday.
Here are 2 things I’m going to try to do over the holiday season to keep myself enjoying the holidays rather than running from them. You might find these strategies helpful for you too.
- I’m going to know and love my nature. Our individual nature is made up of traits that are immovable. They’re parts of our personhood that are not going anywhere no matter how hard we try. So knowing and loving my nature, means admitting to and loving the good as well as the less desirable parts about me. I’ve learned over time that it’s better to surrender to my nature rather than trying to stronghold it into submission. So this holiday season, instead of fighting my nature, I’m going to acknowledge, accept and go with the flow with myself. Here are some pieces of my nature that I’m giving mad respect to this season:
- I love food and feasting: So that means sometimes I overeat. At every holiday gathering, I’m going to try to notice when I’m eating so much that I don’t feel well. But other than that, I’m going to acknowledge that this is a time of feasting and I love feasting. No guilt. No shame.
- I can switch moods quickly: this often depends on how well rested I am, how well hydrated I am and how deeply connected I feel to the people I’m with. Call me childish but these things matter to my constitution so I’m going to try to do my best to meet these needs of mine so that I enjoy myself more.
- I need a lot of alone time/quiet time. People are often surprised to hear that I’m an introvert because I can be so outgoing and friendly. The fact of the matter is, I am introverted. I am also a huge people pleaser; I love to see the people around me feel good so I go out of my way to be happy, fun loving and outgoing. But sometimes, I need solitude. This holiday season, I’m going to take mini retreats during gatherings whenever I need to. If you’re introverted and you’re feeling selfish for skipping out on group activities, here’s a key thing to remember: you taking breaks for yourself doesn’t just make things more enjoyable for you, it makes you more enjoyable to everyone else. So it’s a win-win all around. Drop this idea of selfishness and love your introverted nature unapologetically.
- I’m going to choose abundance. During the holidays I often feel that I am running out of 2 things: time and energy. The more we tell ourselves we’re running low on these things, the quicker time and energy seem to be expended because this perspective focuses on lack and scarcity. If we want to stop feeling a lack of energy and crunched on time, we’ve got to start thinking in terms of big energy and lots of time. To try to reclaim some of my time and energy, I’m going to:
- Stop watching the clock: Being a meticulous time keeper, doesn’t make time stretch out, it makes you hyperaware of every tick tock, of every precious minute that is passing. Watching the time makes your life into a race as a result rushes you toward this self imposed finish line, leaving pleasure and fun on the sidelines. Try to put the clock away and mindfully do the thing you need to do without rushing yourself.
- Slow down: When it feels like you have so much to do and the best way to tackle it is to just put your head down and do it without any breaks, resist that urge. That approach is a fast but energy sucking one. Instead, slow yourself down. Close your eyes and take 3 deep breaths, really focus on your body as you do this. What does it feel like to feel your ribcage expand and your belly rise and fall? How does it feel to close your eyes? Ask yourself in your mind how you want to feel while you complete the task you’re doing–perhaps happy, thankful, generous, joyful, elated etc. Try to draw that kind of energy into what you are doing. Focus on how you want to feel rather than on the physical task. Once you’ve made an intention for how you want to feel then go back to putting one foot in front of the other and getting things done.
- Boost your energy: Often a quick mindset change as above will make you feel more energetic but if you still feel low then try to listen to yourself again. Maybe you really do need a nap. So try to stop what you’re doing and rest for 20-30 minutes, I promise that task isn’t going anywhere. And behind a short nap, is often a fresher, brighter perspective. It’s worth it. If you can’t nap, because you’re out or at work, then try to come up with a list of things that will quickly boost your energy that you can do. Your list might be different than mine but the point is to have one so that you can quickly recover.
- Going for a short walk
- Drinking a glass of water
- Eating a satisfying snack
- Doing 10 body squats
- Reading 10 pages of a book
- Calling a friend to chat for 5 minutes
These 3 things: putting the clock away, slowing down and boosting your energy all increase your presence in the moment. They make you more mindful and more feeling in your body which means you are more likely to access all the positive feelings you want to experience during the holidays.
I know I’ve said a lot here. So if you need a quick cheat sheet, here it is:
- Know and love your nature: make a list of all the qualities you feel you possess that you’ve tried to change and can’t. Now instead of trying to get rid of the things you don’t like or the things that are inconvenient, try to figure out how you can love yourself more through them. How you can make them “work” in your life?
- Choose abundance: Stop thinking in terms of scarcity and lack. Rather than telling yourself you are running out of time or energy, how can you show yourself that you actually have lots of time and energy? How can you get yourself to slow down rather than speed up? How can you stop time keeping and increase your presence in the moment without thinking ahead to what you have to do next? How can you truly listen to your body’s signals and honestly respond in a way that will boost your energy? Maybe it means pushing through, maybe it means taking rest.