The Holidays: The time of year when it can be difficult to take time to care for yourself, especially when focused on the needs of others.
Who can relate to at least one of the following?
Stressing out over holiday plans to make everyone “happy”
Making a decision that you don’t agree with in order to “keep the peace”
Running all over the place, driving or traveling long distances when you would rather stay put
Saying “yes” to plans when you’d rather say “no”
Pushing yourself beyond your limits because it is something you “should” be doing
Feeling obligated to do the same yearly activity/ outing that you’ve always done because “others are counting on it”
If so, check out the 7 Step Holiday Self-Care Plan for some great tips.
Some of these tips may be easier than others. For instance, if you are prone to over-scheduling or have a demanding career where it is difficult to “take a break”, something may need to change.
If you are a parent or caregiver, breaks can also be hard to come by.
Some additional tips to help in these areas include:
Take a Mini Break–Don’t underestimate the power of a 10-15 minute break! I know quite a few moms who find a few minutes of peace in the bathroom because it is the only place that the kid(s) won’t come looking! A break to get in some brief activity, connect with someone, or grab a snack goes a long way.
Delegate Tasks–Are there tasks that others at work or home can help out with to allow time for a break? If so, try delegating them.
Schedule Breaks–Try scheduling breaks for a mental “reset”. Be intentional about what your body needs in the moment and make an effort to take care of yourself.
The holiday self-care tips focused on saying what you want to say and feeling how you feel is all about being your “authentic self”. It includes being able to express what you want to say without fear of judgment. You have the power to choose what thoughts and feelings you would like to share with others and which ones you don’t. If you are not feeling happy, that’s OK! It can feel exhausting trying to “be” someone you are not or “feel” something you are not feeling.
A difficult area for many people involves making decisions, especially when setting boundaries or saying no to close family or friends. This is especially true for people-pleasers. People pleasers tend to seek approval and want to “keep the peace”. They will often put aside their own needs of self-care to appease the needs of others. They struggle with the discomfort of disapproval. People-pleasers often feel responsible for the feelings of others and experience guilt when family/ friends are upset.
Here are a few additional tips to help:
Work Out Your “Saying No” Muscle- Saying no can be difficult to do, but the more it is practiced, the easier it becomes.
Create a Pause–Don’t feel the need to respond immediately. Try “Let me check [my schedule] and get back to you”.
Lean Into Discomfort–As uncomfortable as this may be, the other alternative tends to be avoidance which only makes things worse.
Let Go of Guilt–Recognize the feeling. Challenge the thoughts. Try visualizing the dark cloud of guilt drift away.
It is OK to give yourself permission to take a break, express what you “really ” think or feel, to say “no”, create boundaries, and change your mind! These things take intentional effort. They are not easy to do, especially with friends or family. It is important to be kind to yourself and give credit for the steps that you are taking. Your needs matter. Your thoughts and feelings are important. Everyone needs rest as we can’t keep on going on empty! That is where the revitalizing power of self-care comes in.
If you find yourself struggling with holiday stress, now is a great time to reach out for support. CARE Counseling has an excellent team of therapists with same-week availability to help get you through the holidays.
Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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