The demands of the holidays can be great, but you have the ability to respond to those demands.
Notice I didn’t say you had the ability to meet all of the demands…just that you have the ability to respond to them. You have to decide what is right and healthy for you to say “yes” to. And that is ultimately also how you can take care of yourself during the holidays.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when faced with holiday demands:
Commit to Self-Care Basics
The basics of good nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management apply to everyone, all the time, but they are essential for maintaining your sanity and stamina through the holidays.
Although it’s hard to avoid a lot of carbs/sugar/alcohol at holiday events, try to eat or imbibe in moderation to avoid putting a lot of stress on your system.
You may have to get creative to stay active as your schedule gets more packed or holiday travel impacts your workouts, but try to fit in a short walk every day (in the sunlight, if possible). Mental health symptoms arise when there are disruptions in regular sleep patterns, which late night parties and travel jet lag can create. Limit the number of nights you’re going to be skimping on sleep and plan for ways to grab naps or extra sleep if possible. Plan rest days when there is nothing on the itinerary.
Partying, socializing, and being with family may be something you look forward to because it helps you manage the stress of life. Or some of those things may actually cause you stress. If you decide to do things that increase stress for you, make a plan for how you’re going to healthfully manage that stress at the same time.
Consider Less Can Be More
In order to take care of yourself at the holidays, when there are increased demands/opportunities to do things, you need to evaluate how saying “yes” is going to impact your ability to stay committed to your self-care basics (see above).
Don’t overcommit yourself. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean there are more than 24 hours in a day or that you have become superhuman, able to accomplish more in the average day than at any other time of year.
Be kind to yourself and do less. Go for quality over quantity, meaningful experiences over things, and “being” over “doing.” Doing less can make for a much more enjoyable holiday.
Shoot for the Middle
Ditch perfectionism, if that’s a problem for you, as well as “All or Nothing” thinking. Instead, work to find creative solutions instead of spreading yourself, your family, or your paycheck too thin. Recognize that something is better than nothing. And that nothing has to be perfect.
Remember that some of the best memories many people have of holidays past are of ones where nothing went as planned or various disasters occurred but were managed with good cheer.
So, even with setting a goal of taking care of yourself during the holidays, keep your expectations realistic, practice flexibility, and don’t be too hard on yourself. In this arena, you get an “A” for effort!