Holidays are a time of fun, family and friendship. But, not for everyone. The holiday season can be filled with tension, drama and anxiety. Maybe you’ve had the year from hell or went through major life changes. Or you may not look forward to seeing certain people during the holidays. This could be co-workers, extended family or even your close loved ones. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It means that you’re a human being going through a difficult time.
But, the holidays don’t necessarily have to be THIS hard either. When we don’t practice self-care during the holidays, we end up shooting ourselves in the foot because we end up being THAT person. The stressed out, overbooked, worn out Grinch. We end up doing whatever it takes to get through the holidays even it it costs us our sanity and peace of mind. Read on to check out 4 ways you self-sabotage during the holidays:
Overschedule yourself – Every year, there are office parties, recitals, holiday gatherings. Because it’s the holiday season, we tend to push ourselves to our limit and just say yes to every event. “I can’t be the Grinch this year.” “I don’t want to be called Scrooge this year.” Because we have these worries about what other people think of us, we put our needs last. We work to take care of the needs of others before ourselves instead of the other way around. So we say yes to every damn invite we get.
Overcommit when we don’t want to. You decide to host the holiday meal this year. You really don’t want to cook, but you’ve got family from out of town that need a place to stay and food to eat. You’d much rather go to someone else’s house to stuff your face (and not have to worry about clean up). Except that you agreed to have cousin Jessica stay on your sofabed with her new boyfriend that she just couldn’t stand to be away from. Your to-do list is a mile long because you just keep adding to it.
Leave things for the last minute. We tend to avoid those things that we don’t want to do. For example, I hate holiday shopping. I detest the large crowds and the noise. In the past, I’ve been known to wait until the last minute to put up my tree or go shopping. Then I’m stressed out, forgetful and end up buying gifts that don’t truly reflect the sentiment of the holiday season. Or I end up buying my father the same blanket that I got him the year before.
Ignore your true feelings – Once Halloween arrives, we get into the “okay let’s do this” mode despite not wanting to participate in anything. For some of us, the holidays are a source of sadness and loss. It may be that you recently lost a loved one and this is the first holiday season without them. It may be that you just went through a major life event like losing a job or major illness. But, you put on a brave face for everyone even though you just want to crawl under the covers from Halloween until New Year’s. Putting on a brave face only helps other people, not you. Setting your feelings aside especially when they are intense and painful is a sign that your feelings aren’t as important.
We don’t just need to get through the holiday season, we need to thrive. Even if you’ve had a tough year or went through major life changes, you DON’T have to suffer and you don’t have to be the best elf in Santa’s workshop. You do need to take care of you.
Here are some things you can do to avoid self-sabotage and have a good holiday season.
Attend only the events that will bring you a sense of joy. You like going to your cousin Christian’s house for a holiday meal. He stuffs you with delicious food and even packs you leftovers for the road. Or you enjoy going to Mom’s house because she makes that special coquito because she knows it’s your favorite. Spend time only with the people who light you up and feed your soul. Politely decline invitations for any other event by saying “Thank you so much for the invite, but I’m not able to attend.” No explanation needed. Do what makes YOU happy. Everything and everyone else will fall into place.
If you’re committed to hosting this year, have a potluck. Have your guests all bring a dish that everyone can enjoy. If cousin Jessica is a vegetarian, she can make her vegetable pasta salad. If Tia Linda has a food allergy, she can bring her gluten free chocolate cookies. By letting others bring their own dishes, you take the pressure off of yourself to do everything. After all, you don’t HAVE to do everything yourself. Just make sure that you keep a list of who is bringing what so you have enough of everything. This way you only have to make one or two dishes for the party.
Plan ahead. Go shopping during low traffic times of the day – mid-morning or late afternoon. Or shop online if you just can’t take the noisy crowds. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get ready for any holiday parties or gatherings. Get a manicure or take some quiet time to get your self-care in before heading out the door. And make sure to have a getaway plan. Give yourself a party time limit. I usually give myself 3 hours max at a party. This way I get to schmooze without completely wearing myself out and I don’t feel bad about leaving early.
Be tuned into your feelings. The holidays aren’t always hot pumpkin spice. They can REALLY suck! If you know that the holidays will be tough for you, be gentle with yourself. Stay home and send cards instead. Be honest with yourself about your pain and then give yourself permission to what you need to do for yourself. When you acknowledge your feelings, you can support yourself best by only doing those activities that will uplift your spirit and your mood. If you only want to have a staycation this year, great! Make sure that you give yourself the space to feel your feelings and do what increases your mood and energy.
Guest post by Heiddi Zalamar
Heiddi is a life coach, therapist and single mom in New York City. She helps busy working moms destress without the guilt. To learn more about Heiddi and her services, please check out http://heiddizalamar.com