The holiday season is here, and with it, opportunities for time with family & friends, a chance to slow down, maybe take time off work, decorate the house, bake your favourite foods...
And probably, also stress, anxiety, insomnia, and worries about money.
You've probably already seen a lot of self-care ideas popping up on social media, and with good reason! What should be the most wonderful time of the year often becomes something else entirely, and having resources to help you reconnect with yourself and your loved ones is so important.
Here are my best three tips for reclaiming the holiday season as a time of rest, festivities, and peace.
1. Do less.
If your family is anything like mine, your holiday season is probably jam-packed with parties, dinners, events, and more. I used to scramble to make it to everything all the time, and it left me feeling frazzled and exhausted. A couple years ago I started declining some of my regular Christmas invitations, and the result was astounding! I had so much more energy to focus on making the most of the events I did attend. I was more present and had more fun. I left dinners or parties feeling good, rather than irritable. I felt more like myself.
That started a tradition, of sorts. I cut down my to-do and to-attend list, and now holidays are once again a source of joy for me. I get to focus on spending time with my favourite people doing our favourite things, and I don't feel guilty about consciously choosing to skip the events that I know will put me on edge or stretch me too thin.
If the idea of turning down an invitation fills you with guilt or dread, try this: make a list of all the events you're planning on attending, and go through each item. Notice how the idea of each event makes you feel. If just looking at your husband's office Christmas party on your list makes your stomach sink, consider giving it a miss this year.
Your intuition will tell you which things are right for you and will fill your cup, and which ones will drain you. Give yourself the gift of listening to that intuition, and decline the events you know aren't right for you. True, you may ruffle some feathers, but your mental wellbeing is more important that going through the motions for the sake of appearing polite.
2. Take time for yourself.
On Thanksgiving Day, I spent most of the day alone. I got some work done, baked a pie, and watched TV. Then we went to my mum's for family dinner, and I went in refreshed and relaxed rather than stressed or frazzled.
Whether you're visiting family, having family visit you, or just have a lot more social stuff on your agenda, make sure you're still taking time for yourself.
Don't give up your weekly spin class, yoga class, walk with the dog, girlfriends brunch, or anything else that's part of your regular routine. Keep doing the stuff that keeps you sane, makes you feel good, and lets you recharge.
3. Spend time, not money.
It's easy to justify spending more than usual because of all the extras during the holiday season – extra food for big family dinners, potlucks, hostess gifts (do other people still bring hostess gifts, or just me and everyone over the age of 65?) and Christmas presents.
But the best memories you'll have from the holidays aren't going to be the gifts, they're going to be of the fun things you did with your family. One of my favourite ways to save money and have some really fun memories is to put together a Christmas craft day. I browse Pintrest for DIY ornaments and gift-ables, then go through the house to collect as many ingredients as I can find before heading to the store. It's so much fun to spend time with friends or family crafting together, drinking tea, chatting, and at the end everyone goes home with something cute and handmade with love.
Here are some ideas for gifts of time, rather than money:
Family nature walk
DIY Christmas ornament craft night
Baking party or bake swap
Game night with friends
Movie marathons (Star Wars or Harry Potter are great ones)
Family library day
You'll find your own best ways to practice self-care over the next few months. Breathe deep, stay calm, and celebrate the little things.
Wishing you a blessed, stress-free, comfortable holiday season!