The holiday season is often busy, lightening fast, and full of breaks to a our typical routine. Bedtimes are missed, lines are long, and let’s not even get started on what we’re eating. Mental health ties in so closely to our physical heath, and we need to put care into several aspects of our lives to keep ourselves on the up and up. Winter (it's so dark and cold), and specifically the Holiday’s really make this….challenging.
Self-care is not top of my list for the Holiday season. I’ve got presents to wrap, things to decorate, last minute shopping, cleaning, travel…and the list goes on and on. It’s often the furthest thing from my mind…and it’s MY JOB to help others create a plan to care for themselves. So I know that self-care must be hard to work in for pretty much everyone. Let me blow your mind 1st by saying that most things you’ve read about self-care are not true – self care is not about massages, walks outside, or hot mugs of lavender tea. Self-care is about setting YOURSELF, your mental health, your health as a top priority.
How can we make caring for our well-being a priority this holiday season? You’ve already taken the first step – clicking “read more” on this article. You’re already thinking about how to make this work during one of the busiest times of the year. Yahoo! Let's take things a few steps further -
1) Your To Do list. Whether it’s a mental list, or written out and color coded (don’t JUDGE, I love different color sharpies) - pair it down. There is no prize for the one that shoves the most into 24 hours. Prioritize – does it have to be done this way? Does it have to be wrapped, or will a gift bag work? Does it have to be baked/cooked homemade? Does it have to be so complicated, or is there a way to simplify? And finally – delegate. Delegate, delegate, delegate; let others help you. Ask others to help you. LET others help you.
2) While we’re on the topic of prioritization, take a glace at the week ahead – where are there breaks during the day that you can schedule in some me time. Having lunch at your favorite place, watching that movie that always makes you laugh, going to a yoga/meditation class. Schedule these things in right along with, Pick up the roast for Sunday dinner, take so and so to piano lessons, wrap gifts for grandma. Making yourself and your well being a priority means that these things are JUST AS important as your obligations (term used with endearment, not disdain) to others.
3) Try talking to yourself differently. We all have internal dialog – conversations that go on in our brains all day long; thoughts that drive feelings and actions. What does your internal dialog sound like – does it sound panicked? Pessimistic? Annoyed? Switch things up and help this inner dialog lean more towards the positive. Write yourself notes, quotes, song lyrics and place them in places you go every day; bathroom mirror, car speedometer, your cell phone, your planner. Change the internal conversation when you notice it’s being driven by panic, pessimism or annoyance – think of a giant stop sign STOP – and change your perspective.
Stuck in a long line? I can answer some emails while I stand here, I can strengthen my core by standing tall, balancing on one foot than the other, I can complete some online shopping, Wow, such interesting people watching.
Have 20 things on your To Do list? (first of all re-visit #1 of this list) Work in mind breaks, a few moments to take a deep breath, stretch out the muscles in your neck, hydrate, etc.
4) I saved the toughest for last – Say no, with out providing a novel about why. Setting boundaries are so important for your mental health, and the ultimate exercise in self-care. Often we feel that we need to do it all, say it all, be it all. It’s not possible. So set your boundary and protect it with - no. My favorite work around for this one (because I struggle) is to suggest an alternative.
Instead of….. let’s do…..
How about …… instead of…….
Holiday season is dark (physically dark, seriously, the sun is often non-existent), busy, and full of all things sugar related. So beef up your self-care strategies to prevent that post-holiday burn out. Happy Holidays!