A pattern that I have observed within my clients and myself is using the holidays as an excuse for overindulgence. However, behaviors such as overeating, binge drinking, excessive spending, and failing to maintain interpersonal boundaries can lead to us feeling fatigued and out of balance as we enter the new year. Here are some self-care tips to help you and your family have relaxing and rejuvenating holiday season!
Listen to your body!
So many of our favorite holiday traditions are centered on large hearty meals and decadent sweet treats. While these foods cause temporary happiness, they often leave you feeling sluggish and unmotivated. These feelings make it difficult to engage in self-care activities such as exercise and spending time in nature. Although I am not suggesting that you deprive yourself this holiday season, I am suggesting that you notice how specific foods and beverages alter your mood! Simple modifications, such as drinking plenty of water and eating smaller portions may allow you to be more present with yourself and your family.
Create Space for Self-Reflection
Are you and your partner having arguments about excessive spending during the holidays? Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells around your family members to avoid conflict? Is this your first holiday season after losing a loved one? The holidays bring up more emotions than just joyfulness and gratitude. Many people choose to numb painful emotions with food or alcohol. Although this may work temporarily, these emotions will eventually return or even intensify. Instead, try creating space to feel your feelings through mindfulness, journaling, or confiding in a trusted other!
A lot of holiday stress stems from trying to please everyone. Remember, it is okay for you to say no to travel plans or holiday events if they become overwhelming. Try sitting down with your family and prioritizing the events and traditions that are the most meaningful to you and create a plan! If saying no results in feelings of guilt, try reminding yourself how much more present you will be with your family when you are not thinking about the next five events you have to attend!
In a world in which everyone is posting their “highlight reel” on Social Media, it is easy to compare your holiday experiences to those of friends, family members, and even strangers. Doing so can leave you feeling like inadequate or like you missed out on something better. Remember that you are comparing the highlights of someone else’s holidays to the entire experience of your own. It may be helpful to take a break from Social Media (or at least limit your exposure) this holiday season. Doing so will not only eliminate pressure, but it will also allow space for you to be grateful for the many blessings of 2019.
Michaela Standhart is a Marriage and Family Therapist Candidate. She specializes in couples therapy, betrayal trauma, and works with adolescent as young as 12 years old.