Self Care over the Holidays

Managing Expectations & Practicing Gratitude

Taking control this holiday season

While I try to make it a habit to practice gratitude throughout the year, I find myself reflecting more on just how fortunate I am in my life and in my practice this time of year. Every day, I am fortunate enough to work with strong, brave, intelligent people as they work through the challenges that life presents. And while I would like to thank you - my wonderful community - for all of the support you’ve shared with me this year, I also want to acknowledge that the holidays can be a very difficult time for many people. Between end-of-year work deadlines, tight budgets, travel, and visits with family... the holidays can be physically and emotionally taxing on everyone.

This month, I’d like to offer a few ways you can be more mindful with your time this holiday season both at work and home.

Manage Expectations

It seems like everyone needs something during the holiday season. Whether it’s a demanding boss at work or a mother-in-law who insists on doing everything “her way,” it is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of things that are thrown at you.

This holiday season, though, the key to managing expectations is to be proactive and anticipate demands, deadlines, and requirements from colleagues, family, and friends alike.

At Work

If you’re feeling the stresses and pressures of year-end deadlines at work, you’re not alone. Since many companies (or clients) end their business year on December 31, there’s a scramble to get as much done in as little time as possible. That often means that you and your colleagues are left with all of the responsibility and little time for anything else.

If you’re starting to feel the mounting pressure, here are a few things that may help you to be proactive and manage work expectations.

  • Ask for (in writing, if possible) all outstanding deliverables and their expected deadlines;

  • Remind your supervisor/boss of any time off requests you’ve already submitted. If you are comfortable with them, ask them how the aforementioned deadlines can work around your schedule;

  • If you plan on taking time off around the holidays, remind colleagues when your last day in the office will be. Gently remind them that if they need anything from you, they need to submit any requests by a specific date, which will give you enough time to complete the tasks. After all, no one wants to be working on their “time off!”

At Home

Managing expectations with family and friends are just as important to your holiday stress levels as they are with work.

If you find yourself hosting family or friends for the holidays this year, feel free to start thinking about menus/meals ahead of time. You’ll often find that with a little bit of forethought, you can whip of meals ahead of time and freeze them until the day you want to serve them. Doing so accomplishes two things: For one, it is less to worry about once family starts showing up on your doorstep; and secondly, it provides you more precious time to spend with loved ones while they’re in your home.

Taking Time for Yourself

With so much activity around the holidays, it’s easy to get swept up in the hustle and bustle. But going 1000 miles an hour for days in a row is exhausting. That’s why it is so important to take a few moments each day to focus some time and thought on yourself.

Meditation

One effective way to take a “time out” during this busy time is to spend 5-10 minutes meditating. This could be early in the morning while the rest of the house is sleeping or at night when everyone is going to bed. Regardless, a few moments of solitude can do wonders for recharging your batteries before the start of another day or at the end of a long one.

Keeping Routines

If there are any routines you hold special in your daily life, hold onto them! Perhaps you find that a brisk morning jog or an afternoon yoga class is a great stress reliever. Don’t skip! If you’re afraid of being away from family or friends too long, invite them to join you. There’s a chance that they’re sacrificing their routines and an invitation to join you may be just what they need, too.

When you keep your routines intact, you’ll find that you’re not losing control of some of the activities you love or need, and holding onto those routines also manages expectations, too.

Practice Gratitude

Whenever you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just plain tired this holiday season, I encourage you to take a step back and find something to be grateful for.

Practicing gratitude doesn’t need to be a long drawn-out process. In fact, some studies have linked the feeling of gratitude to an overall improved sense of well-being. (1)

If you can find the time and get into the habit, writing down what you’re grateful for is a nice way to reflect on some of the positive aspects of your life. It can be as simple as “It was a beautiful day today” or “Everyone complimented the dish I made.”

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

As this year draws to a close, I hope that some of these tips are helpful for you through the holiday season and into 2019.

Wishing everyone a happy & healthy holiday!

[Sources]

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/


Holiday Self-Care

The holidays are often filled with visits to and from friends, family, and loved ones, both near and far. And while it is wonderful to see so many people you care about, it can be a lot to handle, too. That’s why it is important to be mindful during this busy season to make sure that you’re taking time for yourself. I’ve put together this list to help you discover ways to recenter yourself away from the hustle and bustle of the season to take care of yourself.

Meditate right when you wake up.

That’s right. Before the coffee, before you check your phone, meditate. Meditation can help you organize your thoughts and just be with yourself before you head out into the world or a home full of guests. These moments of serenity can then be called up later in the day when things are getting a wild around the house or at work. Focus on your breathing, be aware of your body, and just be.

Be in Nature.

Head outside and get some fresh air and observe the beauty of the world around you. Taking a walk around the block or to the store to pick something up is a great time to unwind and recenter yourself. If there is a dog to walk, you may even be doing someone (especially the dog!) a favor by getting them out of the house, too.

Be honest.

If you are someone who needs a lot of time to yourself on any given day, chances are very good that you’ll definitely need some alone time during the holidays. If this sounds like you, do your best to communicate with your guests or your hosts ahead of time that you like to take some time and just be alone. Let them know that it isn’t a reflection on them, but it is just part of your routine that you cherish and desire. You’ll be surprised at how warmly people receive that message.

Write in a journal.

This doesn’t have to be page after page of your thoughts (though those are fine, too). But when you take a few minutes to commit words to paper about the day's’ activities, ups and downs, and other musings, you’re not only getting some time alone, but you’re also committing your thoughts to paper, which can be incredibly therapeutic and empowering, especially during the holiday season. Not sure what to write about? Start out by writing down something that you’re thankful for every day, and see where it takes you.

Do something for someone else.

This may seem to run counter to “Take time for yourself,” but helping others is a wonderful way to reflect on your year and spend some time with yourself. Whether you’re volunteering, writing a letter to an old friend you’ve lost touch with, or shoveling the snow from an elderly neighbor’s walkway before they wake up, doing something nice for someone for its own sake is incredibly gratifying, and at the end of the day, you’ll feel like you’ve really made a difference in someone’s day.

No matter where you find yourself this holiday season, take time to be with yourself, even if you’ve got a million people buzzing around you. By being mindful of the time you need to be a better you, you’ll improve your interactions with those you surround yourself with over the holidays. Taking time for yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself this year.