4 Gifts and How They Support My Self-Care

4 gifts and how they support my self-care

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”  

Sing along with me, you know the song! Now that it’s December, I’m seriously ready to listen to nothing but  Christmas music!

Can I be vulnerable with you for a moment? I’ve written and rewritten this blog post about four times.

Why? Because I love AND loathe this time of year. And I was worried that this article sounded too “negative” and that I wasn’t sharing enough “cheer”. Ugh, that inner critic voice.

I really do love this time of year. The lights! The shimmer! The trees! All the glitter! Family, friends, and co-workers wanting to spend time together celebrating the season. The traditions, both new and old. The memories and nostalgia. I love the hustle and bustle but when you’ve got all these things to do, and people to see it means more buying, spending, and shopping. Oh my gosh, all the shopping!

There is so much goodness about this season, but holy bananas it’s become such an over-commercialized mess. People complaining about a brand’s holiday coffee cups, people fighting over the last item on a shelf, all the commercials and flyers and sales. And don’t even get me started on the crowds. I love being surrounded by people, but something happens this time of year where other people get swept up into anxiety, frustration, and irritation at being overwhelmed, overbooked, and on a mission to find the “perfect” gift.

I’m just being real with you. I know that not everyone is feeling that way every single moment that they are out shopping, but ask yourself to think of a time during that holidays where you felt irritation at waiting in a long line, or frustration that a store is sold out of something you were looking for, or maybe you felt anxiety from having to shop last minute. That energy permeates. Under all the bright lights and shiny bows and cheerful greetings is a jumble of frantic energy.

And one thing that always happens during this season is that I get overloaded. Emotionally and mentally from this miasma. You would think that I’m all good from working so many holiday seasons in retail. But I get swept up in the glitz, the sparkle, the shiny-ness of wanting things. I want to buy things to give to other people. I want to donate to all of the causes. I am a marketer’s perfect target!

Then I start down the road of being incredibly hard on myself, worrying about what I’m spending, if who I’m shopping for will really like it and/or enjoy the thought I’ve put into their gift, and then the guilt. Oh boy, that guilt creeps in and takes no prisoners.

I really think that one of my sub love languages is gift giving/receiving. And you know what sucks? When you start to feel guilty about how you show people that they matter to you.

So I decided to do something different this holiday season to support myself and my self-care practice.

It’s called the 4 gift rule. Have you heard of it?

You only buy four things for the person you are shopping for:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something they will wear
  • Something they will read

I found out about it from Facebook and even though it’s geared towards children, I love it and I’m all over it. I want to put meaning into the gifts that I spend, and I want to make sure that I am keeping to my budget and that I’m not overextending myself and I definitely don’t want to feel like my self-worth is based on how much I spend on someone.

A lot of the time we try to show others how much they matter to us by how much we spend on them, thanks to all the advertising! And this shitty thing is, we all have some crazy, twisted money stories, and when we attach our self-worth to the amount of money we spend or the number of presents under the tree, we get caught up in a spiral of shame and guilt.

But I don’t want this to happen this year.

This holiday season I’m going to be able to stay more present with all of the aspects that I love by not worrying about if I’m buying enough for those closest to me. I love that it’s only 4 things and that they have the ability to tell you exactly what they would like. I even sent my boyfriend a text asking him to send me his Christmas list with his desires listed under these four categories! It’s still meaningful, and as always I’m looking forward to that moment we exchange gifts!

Let me know if you are going to try this out this year, or if you have a different way of staying present and centered when it comes to holiday gift giving!

Financial Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

Financial Self-care for the holidays

Hey! I just wanted to drop a quick post about something that a lot of people don’t think of as self-care: finances!

But it is a part of our self-care practice. Consider how you feel when you’ve paid all of your bills. When you know what is coming in and what is going out of your accounts. You feel nice and relaxed and IN CONTROL. So financial self-care is ESSENTIAL!

Now that the holiday season is in FULL SWING you’re going to be doing some shopping and spending, so I want to make sure that stay on top of your game when it comes to your energy around money and the holidays.

Here are a few tips that I think will set you up sweet:

Decide Who You are shopping for before you get to the store! Are you going to shop for your immediate family, or are you shopping for extended family as well? Do you want to get small gifts or tokens of appreciation for those people who help make life a little easier (mailperson, barista, garbage collector, dog groomer)? Are you participating in gift exchanges? Do you WANT to participate in said gift exchanges? These are questions to ask yourself before you start shopping so you aren’t becoming frazzled the week or even the night before a party/holiday celebration.

Use a gift list. It’s a simple tracking sheet of what items you bought, who you bought it for, and how much you spent. You can write it on a sheet of paper, use a Google Doc or even Numbers or Excel.

You could even take this to a deeper level if you wanted. Track spending limits for people, what cards you used for each purchase, and their bill due dates.

Or you could keep it simple. If the thought of having this tracking sheet have all this information on it sends you into an overwhelm spiral, start with the basics. And make sure to take a few deep breaths!

Don’t just shop Amazon. Yes, they sometimes have good prices, but sometimes you can find better deals on different websites.

A personal example: I asked for wool socks and there are hundreds of options on Amazon. I did a quick search and found a website called Sock Addict that was having a 25% off sale for some really high-quality name brands PLUS I got free shipping!

Use the 4 Gift Rule. Something they want, something they need, something they wear, something they read. I’m writing a blog post about this and my thoughts about it and it should be up in a day or two!

Here are three tips that my bank sent me that are perfectly aligned with financial self-care because they give you peace of mind:

Use a different username and password for your bank account. This way if a different account does happen to get breached, your money is safe!

*This is actually a really good tip that I’ve never thought about and will be implementing ASAP*

Be aware of emails, calls, or texts asking you for personal information. Banks will always use your name when they contact you and ask you to verify the specific security info you set up for your account. Your bank will not ask you for your social security number, debit card PIN, or password!

Whenever my bank emails me, they always reference the last 4 or 6 digits of my account with the first line of the email looking like this:

“RE: Your account ending in XXXX”

It never hurts to check the sending email before you reply. The sending email will always have your bank’s name listed somewhere after that @ symbol.

Update your contact info. This is an important thing to check, update, and refresh a few times a year. By keeping your contact info up to date it ensures that the banks can contact you as soon as they notice any suspicious activity.

Okay, this is all I’m going to share in the post for now. I have a lot more tips that come to mind as I’m typing, so maybe I’ll do a follow-up post. I DON’T want you to feel overwhelmed by your financial self-care. These suggestions are meant to support you in feeling steady and prepared, not overwhelmed and frazzled!

Self-Care Essentials for the Holidays

Holiday Self-Care Essentials

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.

That's where these 5 self-care holiday essentials come in

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.

Saying No

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.

Make space.

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. 

Breathe

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.

Get outside

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.

What can you add to your self-care practice this holiday?