We hear a lot about self-care these days—as something we should rely on to keep us healthy, balanced and sane—but what exactly does it mean? Well, like any well-oiled machine, we need regular maintenance to operate at full capacity and efficiency. For us, that means making self-care a priority—especially during the holidays, so you can remain the embodiment of strength and grace as you take on the world, one task at a time.
A FEW TIPS FOR GENERAL MAINTENANCE:
• Get enough sleep
• Drink plenty of water
• Eat dark leafy greens regularly
• Don’t abandon your exercise regimen
• Be gentle with yourself
• Find compassion for others
• Remember that this is all temporary
• Create moments of silence
• Stop and take three slow, deep breaths several times throughout the day
• Pace yourself: build in breaks for play
TIPS FOR THE 5 TOP SEASONAL STRESSORS
Reducing the stress of shopping involves both a mental shift and a little bit of discipline. The first order of business is to make a list and set a budget. Staying organized early in the month will eliminate that last-minute panic and overspending. Use the internet to your advantage. Most online retailers offer great deals with expedited and/or free shipping. If you’re struggling with finding the perfect gift for someone, let yourself off the hook; it really is the thought that counts.
Prepare for the worst and hope for the best! Bring a book, snacks and a lot of patience for your journey. Consider flying on off hours—book the red eye, or pre-dawn flights—to avoid crowds and hassles. To lessen the impact of a delayed or canceled flight, avoid making plans too close to your arrival time. Leave yourself some slack to arrive, decompress and get settled. Consider taking an emergency overnight kit in your carry-on, in case you get separated from your luggage. I learned this the hard way when I was diverted through Chicago for an overnight and my bags went straight through to Miami. If you’re traveling by car, treat yourself to an audio book and surrender to the gift of extra time alone in the car for a pre-family meditation.
Meeting the In-laws
An introduction to your partner’s family can be awkward, nerve-wracking and crazy-making. More than anything, it can cause stress in your relationship. A pre-game huddle with your beloved can go a long way to easing anxiety. Gaining awareness of potential triggers and hot spots will help you be patient and compassionate. Set up some time to slip away as a couple to strengthen and lean into your bond. Regular check-ins—even brief—can be comforting. Above all, don’t make your partner choose between you and family. While your needs are important, you’re in the support role in this situation, not the star of the show.
Your Own Family
The great spiritualist, Ram Dass said, “You think you’re enlightened? Spend a week with your family.” It’s amazing how quickly we can revert to a thirteen-year-old mentality when we are around our relatives. Your emotional survival in these circumstances largely depends on managing your expectations. The words and actions of a person are not the source of suffering, it’s the fact that you wish or expect them to be different than they are. If you’re one of the many people who feel unseen or unappreciated by members of your family, surrender your need for it to be different than it is. Let it roll off your back. It’s only a few days.
We receive a constant stream of messages at this time of year that the holidays are about spending time and exchanging gifts with partners and family. It’s easy to look around and feel alone, especially if we are not in relationship, or have suffered a loss of a family member. Comparing ourselves to others, while tempting, is never helpful. The stories we make up about other people’s lives are rarely accurate; the grass might look greener from where you sit on the other side of the fence, but not necessarily for the person who is standing on it. Seeing the gifts in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in is the key to thriving. No matter what, there is always something to be grateful for!