We all know that the holiday season can bring a combination of excitement and stress for many people. Pressures abound as we attempt to make this time of year exactly right, and oftentimes, this means putting others’ needs ahead of our own. Although there are many benefits to doing for others, it can be detrimental in the long run if you are not also attending to yourself and your own needs. Challenge yourself this holiday season to reframe your goals from doing everything for everyone else to coming away with a sense of pride that you also honored yourself and what is important to you. Here are 8 ways to not put yourself last this holiday season and to feel in control and restored after a whirlwind time of year.
- Promise not to overspend. One way that we violate our own needs and values is by giving in to the pressure to spend too much money around the holidays. It produces stress and anxiety, so try to stick to a gift list and budget this year, and then make a pact with yourself to not make any impulse purchases. There are a number of holiday shopping apps you can download onto your phone or other device to help you keep track of your spending, find the best deals, and stay on budget. Take pride when you are able to stay on track and respect your finances.
- Outsource and delegate. It can be easy to feel like you have to do everything, but try not to invest your time and energy when it is not necessary. Give yourself permission to seek out help and have other people take on some responsibilities whenever possible. For example, if you are comfortable, consider hiring a cleaning service to help you with the mess of a dinner party or ask your guests to help you clear up. Your children can set the table, your friends can bring a dish to contribute to the meal, and you can have the neighbor kids shovel the walk. We tend to forget that people are more than happy to help out, so do not feel afraid (or ashamed!) to ask.
- Shop online. Why face the crowds when you can make your purchases from the comfort of your own home? If you and your partner like to make gift decisions together, make it a date to sit down together and do some online shopping. Perhaps you are up for the challenge of doing all of your holiday shopping online this year! If you absolutely need to get to the store, try to know what you are going in for and do not deviate from that agenda. Set boundaries on your time so that you know there is an end in sight when you are shopping.
- Choose the easy route sometimes. If you usually spend hours wrapping presents, consider instead using gift bags, which are a much faster option. It will only add to your stress if you shame yourself over buying pies instead of baking them yourself. It is acceptable, reasonable, and smart to budget your time and energy by choosing simpler options when you can.
- Stay healthy. One way that we end up feeling stressed out during the holidays is that we find little excuses to not take care of ourselves. We eat rich foods, consume too much alcohol, skip the gym, and get less sleep. Although indulging here and there is completely acceptable as we celebrate the holiday season, make a promise to yourself to cook healthy options (and eat with abandon!), try to get some exercise every day (even a 15-20 minute walk after a meal is effective), and get plenty of sleep. You will thank yourself in the end.
- Make a wish list just for you. When someone asks you what you would like for the holidays, do you simply say that you want nothing? Is this out of a fear of seeming selfish, needy, or pushy? Challenge yourself to consider what it would be like to actually tell people what you would like for the holidays, and reframe this process as a way of honoring yourself and allowing your friends and family to do something nice for you (because they really want to!). If you really want something, tell someone… or buy it for yourself!
- Schedule time for just you. Think about this on both a day-to-day and long-term level. If your days are busy, make sure that you have scheduled in at least 15 minutes of alone time doing something you enjoy. You could meditate, close your office door, take a bath, or go for a short walk. Try to remember that this time, your time, is as important as anything else on your schedule and honor it appropriately. It is also helpful to think of ways that you can reward and treat yourself after busy or high-stress days and weeks. Put something on your calendar right now for January so that you have something to look forward to. Good examples are a massage, a yoga class, a favorite restaurant, or a trip to the movies.
- Remember that to take care of others, you must first take care of yourself. You really will not be able to be at your best and be able to accomplish your holiday to-do’s if you are not adequately honoring yourself. When you take care of yourself, you increase your chances of living up to all your responsibilities and enjoying the holiday season.