When I looked at my to do list this morning, I legit almost had a panic attack.
I have 6 articles to write for one of my clients plus I have to write ahead for my blog before I go out of town for a couple weeks for Christmas - that's on top of my usual private counseling work. Tomorrow I have my husband's work Christmas party (an hour and a half drive) and Thursday I have to drive to Charlotte (another hour and a half drive) to interview for my global entry id. I also have an appointment with the eye doctor and the dentist because somebody always forgets to schedule their appointments until the end of the year when insurance is about to turn over. Plus, I still have to do the vast majority of my holiday shopping, cards to order and send, and a house to decorate.
And really all I want to do is snuggle up by the fire watching Elf and sipping on eggnog.
The holidays are supposed to be a magical time, at least, according to every Christmas movie ever, but in reality, this month is stressful! Between holiday parties, visiting family, shopping and desperately trying to wrap up work for the year, it's a recipe for burnout. It's all too easy to toss self care aside. Exercise in cold weather? No thanks. And with holiday events dotting the calendar, nourishing our bodies well doesn't come easy.
I promise, I'm not going to tell you to start your day with 20 minutes of grounding yoga and meditation, prepare all homemade nourishing dinners with warming Ayurvedic foods, and make time for a nightly essential oil bubble bath. Ain't no one got time for that! Here's four ways to engage in self care during the holidays that don't require any time at all.
1. Give yourself permission.
Give yourself permission to celebrate (or not celebrate!) the season in the way that you want to. You have permission to say yes...or no! This may mean skipping a holiday party event or staying at home and not traveling to see three different families on Christmas day or saying no to that third cranberry mule at your office party. To simplify the season, I've been saying a lot of no - instead of sending out cards, I'm drafting one in Canva, emailing it to friends and family (and donating the money we would have spent to charity). I also said no to a Christmas tree since we'll be out of town for the holiday. I'll make do with pine scented candles! Of course, this permission extends to food as well. You can eat however you want to eat during the holidays. That may mean saying yes to a breakfast of Christmas cookies and milk, or no to a second serving of your aunt's famous yule log. The cool thing about giving yourself permission with food is that you'll probably find yourself both eating better and enjoying food more.
2. Give up the fairy tale.
Drop the high expectations about what the holidays are supposed to be like. Movies and childhood memories conspire to create this fantasy of what the holidays are supposed to be like. But it can never live up to how you imagine, so forget the idealized version so you can truly enjoy the one that you've got. I learned this one last year after celebrating a really laid back Christmas after we had just gotten back in town from my sister-in-laws wedding. No, eating a Christmas dinner of cheese and French bread with the hubs while watching Elf for the millionth time wasn't the same as the big family shebang we normally do, but it was pretty perfect.
3. Chat with a therapist or trusted friend.
Winter, and the holidays in particular, can be a difficult time. There's seasonal depression, a real thing. And for many, the holidays can heighten existing paid from the loss of a loved one, family dysfunction, or financial hardship.
If you're struggling, now's a good time to schedule a session with your therapist, or find a therapist if you don't have one already. I'm a big believer that everyone should have someone to talk to. If you're not quite ready for the whole therapy thing, make time to call or schedule a coffee date with a friend who has good listening skills.
4. Savor moments of mindfulness.
The magic of the season is in the little moments. Take a second to enjoy that first whiff of Christmas tree when you walk in the door after a long day at work. Notice the lights flickering all over the decorated houses when you walk the dogs at night. Savor that first rich and delicious sip of eggnog. Don't forget to stop and smell the roses, err, the Christmas cookies.
At the end of the day, even though the season is supposed to be about giving, don't forget to give to yourself first. Give your family and loved ones the gift of you, not a worn down, frazzled and stressed version of yourself.