Thanksgiving is done, we survived Black Friday.
The rush of the holiday season is about to sweep you up if it hasn’t already!
The time of year where we are doing more than usual, with an already jam-packed schedule.
Parties, dinners, gift exchanges, holiday observances, decorations, and who knows what else is getting added to the calendar.
Expectations are high! Being around family and coworkers, neighbors and friends. Everyone is eager to be together, and time starts to shift. You have to finish last-minute preparations, do a bit more shopping, find time to work, and it just keeps going going going.
In all of this, how are you taking care of yourself? Have you been pulling from your energy reserves? We all do it, but we can’t keep it up all season long. At some point, we are going to start to notice the signs that we are running low.
In the beauty of winter, the twinkling lights, the food, the friends, the energy of giving and receiving, it’s the perfect time of year to really focus on self-care.
Something I’ve realized is that some people are better at taking care of themselves when its super busy because they don’t have enough time to second guess their decisions. I need to raise my hand here-I’m totally this person. It’s because I used to work in a very frantic, fast-paced retail environment that went into overdrive during the holiday season. I became really good at observing my environment and the situations that I was in and making decisions instantly.
You may not be like this, and that is A-OKAY. Some people don’t work well in situations like that. They are better at taking care of themselves when they can take the time to plan. It can be jarring to have to make a decision in the moment with no idea of how it will affect the rest of your day.
Schedule and Put it on the calendar
It may seem like a no-brainer, but we receive so many invites to parties, dinners, outings, and add on top of that all of the holiday deadlines, and something is bound to go missing. Usually, it’s our energy!
Take a few moments to set yourself up for the remainder of the year:
- Put all of your work events, days off, holiday visits, and travel time on the calendar.
- When you get an invite to an event, immediately put it on your calendar.
- To take it a step further, schedule out the times that you will be shopping, cooking, driving, etc.
Then, every week look at your calendar. Notice where you can find some time for yourself. It’s beneficial to schedule at least one personal self-care event each week.
By doing even one simple self-care step a day/week/every other day, you are setting a standard and creating a practice. You are taking time to pause, observe, and recommit to where your energy and attention is going. And in these moments, it’s going to the most important person-YOU!
Putting things on your calendar (including self-care) will give you a better view of where your time and energy is going.
There is always an inevitable moment in the holiday season where too much is happening at once. Too many invites will have you spread thin, so make sure you are protecting your energy by making time a priority. Saying No is such a simple, yet powerful way to practice self-care. It gives you space and helps you acknowledge your energy output and limits. This is a simple act in acknowledging your boundaries, and when you say no to one thing you are really saying yes to another.
Your no doesn’t have to include an explanation, or it could come in the form of offering an alternative.
Something that has truly helped me find more ease in saying no in recent years is recognizing that most of the obligations we put on ourselves this time of year are optional. You don’t have to do the things you always do just because you’ve always done them that way.
Space is just as important as the self-care you schedule. These moments are beneficial for you to simply be present. When you can, and it will happen, take 5-10 minutes in your day just for you. Let yourself sit in silence, look around, observe and express some gratitude. Reach out to a friend. Listen to a song (and dance to the rhythm). Stretch your body.
Allow yourself to have some space, and give yourself permission to drop everything to focus on you. If it helps, make a list of easy, short activities that you can do in 5-10 minutes to regain that feeling of being awake, energized, in the flow.
We take around 23,000 breaths every day, and we aren’t aware of most of them. What tends to happen In those moments where you are starting to feel frazzled, pulled in all directions, stressed or overwhelmed (even if it’s gratitude and excitement), is that we hold our breath. There is the tensing of our entire body, and we may feel a heaviness in our belly. I don’t know anyone who makes it through the entire holiday season without feeling this at least once. Do you?
In those moments, which will happen, take several full, deep breaths and exhale that breath out audibly. Feel your body start to shift and settle. You may even feel the release of tension, the sense of lightness that starts to move over you. This is my favorite breathing exercise to ground and recenter, and it works in pretty much any situation.
If that one doesn’t feel supportive, try out a few different breathing exercises to find the one that does work for you. Use this often when you feel yourself starting to getting caught up in the rush of the holiday energy.
It’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn to nature for a quick refresh. There is something about getting bundled up, and taking yourself into the chilly, frosty, wintery air. Take yourself on a walk around the block on your lunch break, walk through your neighborhood in the evening to admire holiday decorations, head into the woods and enjoy some forest bathing. Allow yourself to experience how the body reacts to the chill in the air, how your movements warm you up, how the sights and scenes around you can help bring yourself back into the present moment. Use this as a tool when you need to get away for a moment.