by: Elise Wallace
We’ve got mixed feelings about the holidays around here. Some of us try to tone down decorations as much as possible. Others love the yummy food everyone makes this time of year. Meanwhile, I’m already planning a Christmas tree shopping trip and trying to incorporate tips for self-care during the holidays.
The holidays can bring up some tough stuff: complicated family history, rocky relationships, political disagreements, or a conversation with that crazy uncle who doesn’t believe in climate change. Of course, there are good times amidst all the tougher moments. I’ve got a list of holiday self-help tips to help you focus on the good, make it through the difficult, and enjoy this time of year as much as possible.
1. Wear what makes YOU feel festive
What’s on the inside matters most, but all us bandana-wearing-girls (and guys) know that what you wear affects how you feel about yourself. That’s why we keep putting words on our bandanas [like our class and first bandana, Be Brave] – because what you wear is your version of saying to anyone who’s looking ‘this is me!’. So, maybe your style includes wearing a handmade leather slide with your brave bandana!
‘Festive’ doesn’t mean red & green, bells and snowman sweaters – although it can! – festive means celebratory and excited. I feel the most ready for a party when I’m wearing exactly what pops into my mind. Sometimes, I try to change my outfit choice based on what I think people expect me to show up wearing. ‘Is this too much black? Am I looking too formal, or too casual?’ The truth is, that I can never wear too much black (in my opinion) and I need to trust my judgment for formal and casual outfit occasions.
Perhaps holiday self-care looks like staying in your sweatpants all day; maybe walking around the house in high heels makes you feel sexy and powerful, or you’re like my dad – you don’t change your daily outfit one bit just because it’s the holiday.
Wear what makes you feel beautiful, strong and ready to party…or stay in and eat cookies.
2. Sleep as a mental health tool
I have a rule in my relationships: no emotional and/or significant conversations after 10 pm. My mental stability is way more fragile after the sun goes down when I’m tired, and during the time of day when I’m more likely to be sipping a beer or a glass of wine. A good night’s sleep does wonders for my outlook on a situation. The importance of sleep is proven by mental health organizations, like this article from Mental Health America, and the holidays are a time of less sleep for lots of us.
This time of year there are holiday parties, family members visiting and staying in your home, shopping to do, work to finish up before the end of the year. All the extra things that pile onto our schedules can mean late nights or early mornings.
I’m not saying that you need to cancel a party or deprive yourself of any fun just to go to bed early! Just being aware of the power of sleep can help you out.
Personally, I do like to go to bed early, but if I do end up crawling into bed late, I make time for a nap the next day. Twenty minutes in my bed can turn around a sleepy, groggy, difficult day. So when your holiday stress is high, take a nap, or find a quiet place to close your eyes. You and your holiday plans are worth the investment.
3. Keep your routine
Okay okay, this is probably borderline impossible during the month of December, and to be honest, the change in my schedule feels invigorating. I enjoy having dinners to attend with friends that I’ve not seen for weeks. I like going Christmas tree shopping and bringing a bottle of wine to a party. The break-up of your daily routine can be invigorating.
There are aspects of our routine that keep us grounded. For me, self-care during the holidays looks like yoga, rock climbing, and journaling. My sister eats the same breakfast of yogurt and granola, and she tries to keep up her exercise regimen, and my dad remains dedicated to a daily ride on his bike. You’re not going to be able to keep the same schedule but try to hold onto the parts of your day that keep you regular, rested, happy and peaceful.
p.s. if exercise is part of your routine, check this out. I’m not sure if these ‘holiday’ exercises are serious, or if it’s a joke. Either way, I may try ‘milk jug squats’ later today…
4. Tune in and tune out
I’m not just talking about Christmas music. What I mean is a less literal, and deeper understanding of ‘tune in and tune out’. What do you want to hear this season? Words of encouragement, positivity, honesty. What do you not want to hear? Hurtful words, hate, judgement…your grandfather trying to sing a tune.
We can’t always control what’s happening around us, but we can choose what we want to hold onto, and what we want to let go.
I have a hard time remembering that when someone is talking to me, what they are saying belongs to them, not me. I do not have to take on whatever is said around me, or to me. When I’m not hanging out at the Jenni Earle offices, I work at a coffee shop. Some of my customers complain about the weather, or family members coming into town, or how much work they have to do before a holiday break; others tell me about their fun plans, hilarious family incidents or that they hope it will snow (hint: in North Carolina, it probably won’t). I choose to invest in the conversations that make me feel good. For the stuff I want to tune out, I politely listen and then move on to better topics.
Tune into what will help you and build you up. Tune out the rest.
5. Focus on gratitude
This self-care tip is similar to the last one, but it calls for something a bit more. Focusing on gratitude means looking back at the whole year, and what’s coming ahead for 2020.
Whatever you celebrate this time of year, at the end of the season it was just a day, or a week, or a few days. The rest of the year rolled by, and there is another one coming up. I don’t mean to be a buzz kill during what can be a lovely, warm and fun-filled time of year. I only want to offer up a valuable perspective.
The holidays will end, and we will get back to our lives. Now is a great time to reflect and be grateful.
I value times of year that shake us out of our routines because we can find rare moments for reflection and renewal. Help yourself, and choose to focus on what you are grateful for – including everything that’s happened since January. Choose to find gratitude during holiday parties, work events and family time. When we focus on gratitude our mood improves, and we can set our minds on all the possibilities of a new year.
I hope these tips for self-care during the holidays will make for better merry-making, happy memories, and a more balanced routine.