Practicing self-care over the holidays allows us to give of ourselves in a healthy way so our time with family and friends is meaningful and enjoyable.
Unfortunately, for many people the holidays can feel stressful and overwhelming.
Financial pressures, unrealistic expectations, and unhealthy family dynamics can get in the way of our ability to enjoy family and friends, and get much needed rest and relaxation.
Practicing self-care is essential for reducing stress over the holidays. Self-care reminds us to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and be kind to ourselves so that we can be present for those special moments.
Clarity on our boundaries, such as knowing what we can reasonably give to others, and receive from others, is essential.
When we are clear on our boundaries, we don’t create unrealistic expectations that drive stress and conflict.
Listening to what we truly feel is a first step…
“Am I being impulsive?”
“Am I promising things that I can’t deliver (because I don’t feel like I am enough)?”
“Am I being reactive, and demanding too much from others (because I’ve taken on too much, or because I feel dissatisfied)?”
In the table below, we can see that Sarah, mom to two boys under ten years of age and a full time employee, gets caught in a perfect storm of unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and behaviours when she can’t comply with her commitment to make lasagna for a family dinner:
The holidays are a time to be kind to ourselves, as well as others. Self-care means listening to our own needs, and being clear about our boundaries. When we have healthy boundaries, we don’t overextend ourselves, or make unreasonable demands. Healthy self-talk helps us relax, and de-escalate distressing emotions. Being more compassionate with ourselves helps us stay calm so we can respond skillfully to difficult situations. When the holidays are stressful, being compassionate with ourselves helps us celebrate the love that brings us together and warms our hearts.