Recognize the importance of pausing now and again, to catch a breath, and look at how we can find some ways to minimize the overwhelm. Here are some things you can do for yourself during a holiday season.
Welcome back to the time of year when life feels like one big chaotic rush. The end of each year often takes us to more stressful times as we feel compelled to keep up with more frequent social events, party- planning, spending money on gifts, travel, and catering to out-of-town guests. Not only do our finances shrink but our precious downtime seems to disappear as well. It’s easy to forget how to cope with the demands! What in the world do we do? Let’s take a look at some basic reminders to help out.
Sometimes it can be difficult to commit to several events in just a few short weeks. Take some time to evaluate the best use of your time and energy. Allow yourself permission to decline an invitation. Yup, that’s right- you can say “NO.” (*Gasp* What will people think if you don’t attend??) Rest assured, it won’t be the end of the world. The realistic part of this is, while they may initially feel disappointed that you won’t be attending, the host will be focused on so many other aspects of their party that they likely will forget. (Sure, you may get the “we missed you” semi-guilt trip, but it will be okay! If they want to hold a grudge against you for it, that’s on them, not you.)
Yes, that’s right, breathe. Give yourself a random moment now and again to take in a nice deep slow breath. (Think yoga-style breathing.) It will do you good to just get a nice big breath and will give your body a moment to try to relax. Set a timer on your phone as a reminder if your days get terribly busy. Your body and mind are worth these little moments. Consider giving yourself 3-5 minutes to focus solely on your breath every day- especially if you know it may be a hectic day.
Acknowledge the Chaos
Before setting out for the day, be mindful of some of the more common things to happen- give yourself some space to hold awareness. Why? By holding some awareness of what to expect it leaves less space for that element of surprise. Adjust your day accordingly. If the weather tends to be sketchy this time of year and you know you are headed for a morning of traffic, consider giving yourself an extra 10 minutes for the commute. For some of us, feeling that need to rush can set in a feeling of panic that can be difficult to recover from even once we reached our destination.
Same thing with shopping. This time of year, the stores and malls (even grocery stores) are most likely a great deal busier. You are probably already aware the types of people you may encounter- the ones rushing, the really slow ones, the ones not paying attention, the irritable ones and so forth. By acknowledging what to expect you give yourself some room to develop some acceptance of how things may be.
Set a Budget (or don’t spend a dime)
There can be a huge push to spend a great deal of money this time of year in the form of gifts. Be realistic about whether you want to spend money. Come up with a number that feels comfortable and stick with that plan. Your kid’s teachers don’t all need gifts- often a nice hand-written, personalized thank you letter can mean the world to a teacher.
Instead of giving, consider giving back by volunteering or donating food to a shelter. The gift of your time through volunteering often means you are giving to many people at one time. Many churches and not-for-profits also have angel trees where you can purchase necessities like clothes (and/or toys) for children in need. Similarly, if you feel bad you cannot afford gifts but want to show your appreciation, offer your time to a good friend. Cook a meal, babysit, or offer to run errands. We don’t have to buy material items to show appreciation to the people we hold dear.
Last but not least….
Keep Up with Self-Care
Try not to let a busy schedule stand in the way of your own needs. It’s easy to let the workouts slide and eating more indulgently. Keep up with supports. Maintain boundaries with your time. Sometimes self-care also means limiting your social time at the holiday parties- it’s okay to spend an hour and then make your exit. Be realistic with yourself on how easy or difficult it may be for you personally to get back into the swing of things if you go off course. Who else is going to take care of you? Better yet, work with a close friend to hold each other accountable- sometimes working with others to achieve similar goals can be comforting.
Creative Pathways- Rochester Art Therapy- specializing in treating the Highly Sensitive Person, is devoted to helping individuals face their struggles in a supportive and gentle way. Let us help you achieve your personal goals and develop in-depth solutions. If you would like to learn more and meet with a therapist, please contact us today to determine how we can help.
Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.