Self-Care in the Holidays
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s Christmas time. This is the time of year when everyone is happy and filled with joy… Or is it? These are certainly the expectations we are pressured to manifest. Don’t get me wrong; I think Christmas can be a magical and delightful experience. Unfortunately, there are many lurking killjoys out to ruin your fun! The good news is your knowledge of these subtle thieves will give you the power to avoid them and create a fabulous holiday.
The purpose of arming you with this information is to heighten your awareness of your own need for self-care, regardless of the time of year. Self-care is a constant practice and is a priority for most of us who understand its value. During the holidays, however, it can be all too easy to compromise our self-care and get caught up in the hustle and bustle. Please use these tools to navigate the holidays in a way that is loving to yourself this year!
Common “Christmas Joy Thieves” are:
Do you feel the weight of obligation this Christmas? There is no better joy thief than obligation and guilt. Expectation can be stealthy because its damage can only be seen on the inside. Two people may be shopping for gifts and hanging Christmas lights but may be experiencing those activities very differently on the inside. One may be stressed, overwhelmed, and burdened by the additional tasks that “Christmas obligations” cause, and the other may feel energized by the very same actions.
The key is to listen to your inner voice for guidance. Are you tired? Do you feel overwhelmed? Are your actions motivated by obligation and what you ”should” do? When we check in with ourselves, we can typically identify areas where we are sacrificing our own needs in order to perform as we are expected.
What are some “shoulds” that you can let go of and show up for yourself instead? We are often hard on ourselves and can set unreasonable (or impossible!) standards to achieve. The truth is, most people are not even going to notice if you cook three dishes versus ten. There are so many alternatives to traditional expectations, so, instead of breaking your back, lighten up, delegate a few things, and enjoy the moment.
How many of us are guilty of trying to enact the “perfect” Christmas? Whether we got the idea from a movie, a past childhood memory, or advertising, most of us have a sense of the ideal Christmas. While dreaming is fun, if we are expecting everyone around us to participate in our fantasy, we are in for some disappointment! Often, our reality may look different than our dreams, but when we get comfortable with acceptance, reality is pretty darn good too! Any holiday situation can be made into a magical moment with a little shift in perspective.
It wouldn’t be Christmas for most of us without a little family drama to spice things up a bit! Unfortunately, this can ruin an otherwise great holiday experience. Going back to our Christmas fantasies, we are often guilty of dreaming up ways that we our families would act. Reality almost always dictates otherwise, well, because we just don’t have much control over the actions of others… even at Christmas time!
Once we’ve accepted the reality of how our families behave, the answer to this Christmas killjoy is almost always boundaries. We may not have any power over anyone else’s behavior, but we have the complete power to make our own choices. Sometimes, those choices might be hard. Sometimes, showing up for ourselves means choosing not to be around family at all. Maybe sharing time with friends is a healthier choice. Perhaps setting a preset time to leave or making sure you have a car to escape if you need to is a critical key to your self-care. Just because it is Christmas time, does not mean you have to endure unacceptable behavior. Don’t abandon your own emotional needs.
Oh, the sales at Christmas time! And… the ads and the pressure to buy, buy, buy more! It is no secret that Christmas has been commercialized. Some of the subtleties of this fact manifest in our heads. Instead of giving gifts in the true spirit of giving (defined by “a thing given willingly to someone without payment”), we often struggle with giving out of obligation and guilt. When a gift is expected, is it really a gift?
Although you may disappoint a few people, you may consider shifting your expectations of yourself this year, regarding gifts. Maybe you choose to give one meaningful gift. Maybe you decide to give gifts of time, affection, or experiences rather than “stuff”, this year. Contrary to retail stores’ opinions, we all have much more valuable gifts to offer than what can be purchased by our wallets. In the interest of self-care, any gift that is given should not be self-damaging in anyway. This means it is crucial to reconsider any gifts that may cause personal debt, exhaustion, or resentment.
Busyness instead of Beingness
Between buying presents, decorating, hanging Christmas lights, baking cookies, and making a giant meal, what time is left for just soaking it all in?Sometimes, we get so caught up in creating the perfect holiday that we rush right past it. If you are a “to-do” list addict, this may be a joy-thief to look for. Are you being overly ambitious in your decorating, gift-giving, meal prep, and Christmas events? Consider taking a moment to just take it in. Perhaps giving up that grand meal in order to spend a few extra moments with family would be worth it. If your own self-made Christmas traditions are smothering you, why not make some new, lighter ones? Slow down and consider how valuable your BEingness is, in light of this season.
Jillian Landis is a Self-Care and Worthiness Coach at Evolve Personal Coaching, blogger, and writer for Nourish + Bloom. Jillian's passion is encouraging big hearted individuals to extend a little of their love to themselves, so they may serve this world at their greatest potential. Prior to coaching, Jillian served in the mental health profession for 10 years and has a vast knowledge of human behavior, which she utilizes to create effective change in the lives of her clients.