5 Secrets to Holiday Self-Care
Secret #1: Let go of the guilt.
Do you worry that taking time for yourself takes you away from caring for your loved ones, getting your work done, and keeping up on your to do list? Feel like if you take that hour, or two, or three for yourself, you’ll be more rushed later or even feel like you’re being selfish?
Let’s see if we can think about this differently because I believe that spending quality time doing meaningful things for yourself will make you a better parent, partner, employee, and friend. Taking time for yourself puts you in a more grounded state physically and mentally so you can be more present in what you are doing when you get back to your work and responsibilities.
Here are some examples of how taking time for yourself actual makes you more present and productive:
- Meditating for 5 minutes in the afternoon can clear your head, renew your energy, and actually make you more productive for the rest of your day.
- Journaling for 5 minutes in the morning can get your priorities in order so you have a better idea of what is important to you and will truly move the needle in the positive direction in your life as opposed to constantly checking off things on an ever growing to do list.
- A regular exercise / movement practice can actually help to keep you healthier so that you are able to do all the other things that you want to do.
- Slowing down with a restorative practice like restorative yoga or receiving a sound healing or reiki session can let your body recharge and heal.
- My own experience this week showed me what I know, but didn’t take the time to do. I’ve been so busy with classes and the holidays and working at the computer that in the past two weeks I haven’t done my own Mindful Rolling, yoga, and strengthening practices. And guess what? My back was killing me this week!
I just cannot do the work that I’m doing with singing bowls (carrying and playing), the forward bending in reiki healing sessions, and computer work for my business without DAILY fascial release practice with the balls and yoga. My body let me know through pain that I have to slow down and taking the extra time for these practices is not a luxury or selfish or taking away from my work - I literally can’t do my work without taking this time for myself!
Secret #2: Say "NO", or at least, "NO, not right now."
The holiday season is especially busy for many. There’s shopping to do, work holiday events, friend and family get togethers, decorating, and more.
One of my students recently said that she felt overwhelmed with all the events and parties going on. I thought to myself how lucky is she that so many friends and family members want to spend time with her?? But I know it’s overwhelming to try to fit it all in and we often don’t want to say no or to leave people out.
There are two ways of thinking about saying no. There’s just saying no to things that don’t bring you joy and there’s all those things that you want to do, but just don’t have the time for (at least not without feeling stressed and overwhelmed). For that last category, I would say that with true kindness why not say, no, not right now - BUT let’s make a plan for later!
If there are too many holiday gatherings, why not say no, not right now and respect your time to rest, but make a plan with that person to do something in January or even later. It’s hard to schedule time to see friends and family and the holidays are great because it kind of forces us to make the plan. But sometimes it just can’t all happen.
But use that connection as an opportunity to schedule your own holiday get together after the holidays. What really is the difference what month you get together as long as you do it? Maybe instead of a holiday party where you see a group of friends and family, you have to say no to one or two of those and make separates dates to get together for tea or lunch and catch up with individuals. That more intimate setting might be even better than a big party where you can’t talk and really connect.
Over the next few weeks, be flexible with your plans and let no sometimes be a no, not right now. Commit to scheduling something when you’re feeling more space in your calendar and life. Then you will feel better because you are keeping up important relationships, but doing so at a time when you will be more fully present and you are not overwhelming yourself.
Secret #3: Find your unique self-care for today. Tip - it might be uncomfortable.
Maybe binge watching Netflix on the couch feels like you’re taking a break and doing something for yourself, but if you don’t feel renewed after, then it might not be the self-care you need right now. Self-care is going around the yoga world even more right now because we are all moving so fast and not taking much time to slow down for ourselves, but self-care looks different for everyone.
For some it might be a bubble bath and a glass of wine and for others it might be tackling a difficult conversation that they have been avoiding. Self-care isn’t always something pleasurable - it could be a little messy or hard. For me, sometimes self-care is doing the things that I least want to do for the day first and getting them over with. I know that I have to do them and the procrastination just leaves me worrying about them and avoiding them.
Take time to figure out what your unique self-care is that would renew you and leave you feeling like it was time well-spent.
Journaling is a good way to find out what is processing in the background and seeing what might really fulfill you for your self-care. Maybe it’s a spa visit with a massage and brunch with your friends after, maybe it’s taking an exercise class, or taking a good nap, and maybe it’s tackling that task or conversation that you dread the most.
Secret #4: Put it on your calendar and make other things work around it.
Did you ever notice how your work can expand to fit your day? I mean there’s always work to do, but if you have a deadline of one hour to get something finished then you can probably get it done a lot faster than if you had all day to do it.
You can use this to your advantage. When you feel like you’re too busy to schedule things for your own self-care, schedule them and put them on your calendar. Then make a commitment to them and see if you can get other things to work around what you’ve carved out for yourself. You may be amazed at how efficiently you can work when you have something for yourself to look forward to.
The truth is that if you wait to see if there’s time left for you at the end of the week, then all the other things will fill in the hours and there literally won’t be a slot available for what you need to recharge. It may take some communication with loved ones and and some flexibility in your regular routine, but you can make yourself a priority on your calendar and let some of the caretaking and work shift around that.
For me this means planning out the weekly exercise classes that I will take three weeks in advance and the workshops and training that I will take months in advance. Then I have to just plan private sessions and group events around that. I don’t like to work out, so if I don’t make it a priority, then I will easily find things to fill in that time and skip the workouts which I know are so important for fueling my body to actually run my business. I even schedule time to cook and clean on my iphone calendar at this point because when I wasn’t scheduling it, it just wasn’t happening and everything else was filling in that time!
Secret #5: Ask for help - in big and small ways.
We are all warriors and superheros in all that we tackle every day. And I know it’s hard for most of us to ask for help. But asking for help is especially important around the holidays when things are even more hectic.
It may be asking for help with childcare, getting help picking up something heavy, or asking a friend to meet up for a 30 minute chat to get her opinion on something. For me it’s asking my husband for help carrying my singing bowls out to the car. I can do it and it might even take less time if I do it myself, but it will definitely support my back health if I ask for help. And honestly, he’s so sweet, he enjoys helping me - so it’s a win-win. :)
Where can you let go of your ego and the idea of doing it all by yourself? Where can you ask for help? Make a list of tasks that you could use some support with and people and resources for accomplishing that. Sometimes it’s spending a little extra money or hiring someone to do something that will save you time and energy even if you can do it yourself.
This is a small example, but a big realization for me - I added gift wrapping and cards for the online gifts that I ordered. Normally I would hate to add that $5.95 to box and wrap a gift because I know that I can totally do it, but this year I really thought how valuable my time is and just added the gift wrapping to my cart. Time is our most valuable resource and it made me so happy to be able to spend this extra amount of cash to get some of that time back.
Making time to first figure out what will recharge you and then finding ways of working it into your life as a priority IS the priority. This will make you a better caregiver, worker, business owner, and friend plus it will leave you less stressed in the long run.
I’d love to hear about your best self-care routines and how you work it into your life.