Have you ever noticed that many of us run around as if our hair were on fire because of all kinds of commitments? Then just for the thrill of it, we tend to add more activities to our holiday calendar. Some of us do this because it feels like a challenge. Others do it because everyone expects them to. Besides, if they don’t do it, who will?
Whatever the case may be, we often find ourselves sitting in carpool line, at class parties or sitting with friends commiserating about the insanely busy holiday season, how exhausted we are and how we can’t wait for it to all be over.
Plenty of us have said yes to activities, thinking, “What’s one more thing? It’s really not that big of a deal.” A couple of weeks later, we find ourselves irritated for saying yes and waking up in the middle of the night wondering how we will get it all done - and we only have ourselves to blame.
One mom found herself completely exhausted from all she had said yes to while she tried to have the house perfect by the time her kids made it home for the holidays. When they headed back to school, her daughter said, “We really don’t care about a spotless house, we come home to spend time with you. It’s a lot more fun when you aren’t irritable and sleep-deprived.” That was a moment of awakening for the mom. She realized that not taking care of herself had cost her precious time with her family.
If any of this resembles your life at the moment, it isn’t too late to hit the pause button, take a few deep breaths and recalibrate.
In her recent article, This is What Self-Care Really Means Because it’s Not All Salt Baths and Chocolate Cake, Brianna Wiest asserts that true self-care is about choosing to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. Surely she wasn’t talking about the holidays. Consider her point nonetheless.
When we intentionally make healthy choices instead of sprinting to the next thing, we can actually take in the moment and enjoy it instead of wishing for it to end so we can move on.
So, how can you practice good self-care during the holidays and beyond?
Determine your best yes for this season of your life. From seeing relatives you don’t normally see to organizing the annual cookie swap or attending festive holiday shows, there is no shortage of things to fill your calendar. But in the interest of bringing your best self to the party, the million dollar question is, what are the best yeses and what should you pass on - even if it’s only for this year?
Let go of guilt for saying no. This is probably one of the biggest struggles for many people. “If I say no, what if no one steps up?” Or, worse, “What if they do a terrible job?” On the other hand, what if saying no actually gives someone else the chance to step up? What if saying no means you can enjoy being part of the experience instead of directing it?
Make a plan for how you will take care of yourself through the season and beyond. This isn’t just about self-care for the holidays. As West points out, the goal is to make choices that help you create a life you love versus one you want to escape from. We all know exercise, getting enough rest, and watching what we eat are components of good self-care, but so is surrounding yourself with healthy relationships, setting boundaries, walking away from toxic people and doing what you are passionate about.
Has the unexpected loss of someone close to you ever caused you to evaluate how you live life? Instead of looking back and saying, “If I had my life to live over again I would… ” make some tough decisions now that will help you take good care of yourself. There is a big difference in being selfish and being self-aware.