real talk time.
When we think of the holiday season we conjure up expectations of community, gatherings, and celebration. Some of us decorate our homes and settings. We search for warmth and embark on the hustle. The to-do list of traditions (meals to prepare, plans within family and/or friends, dates to fill in) merges with our everyday life (work, academia, home life, personal responsibilities). All of this is almost expected. Once fall comes in we know that the excitement of the holiday season will spring upon us and fill us with anticipation.
However, I’m writing this to advocate for those who may not have the smoothest time during the season. This can be for many reasons. Not all of us have a strong family unit, some of us get overwhelmed by the idea of an “ideal holiday” and having to “do it all”, some of us experience emotional triggers that we keep to ourselves. Because we choose to hide them or we don’t want to disrupt anyone’s joy. There are many reasons why the holiday stress can bubble even if we don’t project it for others to know.
My advice? Take some time for yourself and slowly integrate activities that will contribute to your well-being, or self care. Here are a few way you can explore self care during the holiday season.
Set Boundaries // This. Is. So. Important. Begin by acknowledging that your wants matter. We are better at giving from a full cup, not a depleted one. Sometimes people, even family, will ask of you more than you can give. Learn to ask others to respect your boundaries. Let them know when you are ready, you can give. If others cannot regard you with consideration (no matter who it is) – recognize you cannot change their reaction but your wellness comes first.
Get Rooted // Holidays can feel like a merry-go-round. Whether you happen to have a long list of events, get-togethers, or places to be, or your mind/body is racing on autopilot. You can combat this by rooting yourself. Having the self awareness of how you are spending your time. Work on recharging by taking 15 minutes in the day/night to meditate or trying a light yoga routine, brew a mug of chai or hot drink of choice and pausing your thoughts and taking in the present.
My favorite way to get rooted is by slightly elevating my night shower routine. If I have a candle handy, I’ll light it. I tend to have my phone handy so I’ll check Spotify for some meditation music. Essential oils are a nice touch as well. Ill take 15-20 minutes to unwind, go through any emotions, address them, feel the feels, and I come out feeling either refreshed or relieved. It truly helps.
Reflect // Everyone be it a professional or your neighbor has most likely commented on the benefits of taking a break from social media (here’s an article on social media comparison). I tend to do this on the weekends and yes you really do forget wondering what everyone is up to. Social media during the holidays can strike a sense of FOMO, feeling like you have to be doing something. But you don’t. take the time to connect & reflect with yourself. Ask yourself what it is what you truly want. Then decide how you can go about it. If you want to exchange a night of holiday parties for a night in with a mug of hot cocoa and Christmas movies. Perhaps you want to rev up that holiday spirit, but you don’t have the community around, you can volunteer or catch up with loved ones. Even if it is a phone-call – this doesn’t limit the value of spending time together.
Extra: Surrender // To tie it all together, is to let go. This has been a crucial lesson for me this year because I let go of expectations I had of myself and others. I surrendered my wounds to genuinely feel my vulnerability. I made peace with it, again and again and again. The more I surrendered the easier it became. Is it easy all the time? Of course not. But I believe to surrender it to forgive yourself. During the holidays some people may be harder on themselves for many reasons but remember this: you can only do your best, and you can a limitless amount of chances. Failure is an illusion, surrender that fear and know that you are always there for yourself. Cultivate that bond.
We entered the point of the season that embraces gratitude, and I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. The beginning of this year was hard. As the year flourish I realized that perhaps things needed to end in order for my life to blossom. And it did, and has, and will. I am grateful that I am learning to embrace my vulnerability. Grateful that I am becoming aware that anyone who does not value my giving, does not diminish my worth – there are simply better pastures to cultivate. Humbly grateful for my relationship and friendships. I’ve learned that the right person can become your family, trust can be grown, and it’s okay to have moments of hardships.
What matters is building that community within yourself and others to serve a great purpose. This can be with those around you, or if you have long distance friendships, or even the environment. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, what matters is you build those healthy bonds and keep that gratitude growing everyday. No matter how you spend your holidays I hope you take the autumnal season to celebrate your self, your worth, and grow stronger.