Holiday pressures lead many of us to rely on mile long to-do lists, with attendant feelings of inferiority rather than attending to self-care. Don’t you just love the warm fuzzy holiday feelings of peace and joy?!? (Sarcasm intended.)
Many caregivers feel the month of December is all about providing experiences for everyone else, and typical self-care strategies just don’t fit in. This month, many people put themselves on the bottom of the priority list. While this may help your family attend more holiday parties or have more decorations around the house, ignoring self-care has its consequences. For example, attending your regular weekly yoga class may be tough to squeeze in, yet doing so will help you feel less stressed, sleep better, and be more present this holiday. Remember, self-care is not selfish.
In order to promote health and mindfulness, consider these three sanity saving pointers:
Have One Hot Meal Sitting Down Per Day
I remember that, when my children were infants, I rarely sat down. As the primary caregiver, I was constantly attending to their needs. I have memories of changing diapers, feeding them, keeping them from pinching the dog, keeping them out of the cat litter, and otherwise protecting this fragile new human. I was sleep deprived, and constantly ate on the run–with one hand. If I couldn’t eat something with one hand, I didn’t eat it. And I wondered why I felt like a chaotic mess!
I read a recommendation from Geneen Roth that changed a big portion of my self-care. She wrote that we all need to sit down and eat one hot meal on a real plate each day. The food choice wasn’t important; rather, it was the time spent sitting and focusing on the meal that was important. This recommendation spoke to me, because I connected with this being an opportunity to nurture and nourish my mind, body and spirit. And, oh boy, I needed that!
Even during chaotic holiday schedules, be sure to give yourself at least one eating opportunity each day to eat mindfully, focusing on just that. You’ll find that it calms you and reenergizes you– so you can continue to keep your little human from sticking metal into electrical outlets or eating the dog food.
Stay Off Pinterest and Other Ways to Avoid Comparison
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” I think this quote by Theodore Roosevelt needs to be on the Pinterest disclaimer page. Holiday traditions and activities involve limitless options for creativity. This is cool–for those who love hodge podging or baking decadent desserts–yet it can lead the rest of us down the dark dreary place of comparison and perfectionism.
Instead of looking into what everyone else is doing, consider the holiday traditions that give you the most joyful feelings. What do you remember as a kid that you want to pass on? Give yourself permission to pick the ones, if any, that you have the mental bandwidth for this holiday season. Resist the urge to search online for what you should be doing. Focus on what you want to do, and practice being okay with limiting the choices. To do this, you may want to avoid some social media, like Pinterest or Facebook, until the urge to compare goes away.
By the way, I love this recommendation so much that I’m deleting the Pinterest app from my phone as I type this! Wheee, that felt good!
Move Your Body in a Way that Feels Good
Human bodies are meant to move, and I don’t mean on treadmills in the “no pain no gain” fashion. Our bodies are designed for movement to promote health and well-being. Our body also has ways of letting us know that the movement we’ve chosen is one worth repeating by the pleasure it gives us. By staying aware of your body’s response, you’ll know what your body needs and wants. You’ll know that you’re moving in the right direction (nice pun, right?!?) when the movement feels good.
As you experience the holiday, notice what your body is craving. Do you want to dance to your favorite holiday songs? Take a nighttime stroll to admire the lights? Do you crave stillness? Attend to your body’s desire to move or not, and you’ll notice more connection to the present–and less chaos with what life throws your way.
Happy holidays friends!