Posted by: AJtheIrishLass | November 25, 2022

Self-Care Matters at All Times

people sitting beside table Photo by cottonbro on

Taking Care of Yourself If the Holidays Are Difficult

The “most wonderful time of the year” is anything but for a lot of people. Everything’s a lot more manic on general principle, there’s always someone in everyone’s family or social circle that thrives in drama, and people have genuine disagreements about the nature of the season and how to celebrate it.

One of the most important things to remember is the need to take care of YOU. Many of us have become so used to taking care of STUFF during the holiday season that we lose sight of our wellbeing. Here are a few tips I’ve thought of over the years that have helped me:

Take It Easy

Having to rush or go at someone else’s pace is inevitable sometimes, despite our best efforts. However, try to avoid rushing whenever you possibly can:

  • Work out a schedule that helps you get things done according to your needs whenever possible. Doing things like shopping or preparing food according to someone else’s schedule when you have work or academic demands can end up being stressful. It could probably be said that some of the worst family spats during the holidays have something to do with cooking – really!
  • Know when to tell people “No” or “Wait”. Nobody wants to come across as being uncharitable at this time of year, but knowing your limits and enforcing boundaries about these limits can help prevent a lot of needless trouble. You can’t be all things to all people 24/7.
  • Consider being open to spacing out some of your social activities over the week following Christmas. There’s nothing wrong with seeing people on New Years’ Eve/Day instead of Christmas, or Epiphany/Three Kings Day/Twelfth Night. You never know, you might help spark a new family tradition!

Planning Always Helps

Much of the stress of the holidays likely has to do with poor planning. It’s easy to put off the shopping till the last minute, then have a disaster when you can’t find what you wanted. Yes, return policies help, but it’s better to buy something that’s not going to be returned in the first place, isn’t it?

Things like cooking and decorating work out more easily when some planning is involved. It might be tempting to “enlist” a family member who seems to be unoccupied at the moment but they may have other priorities that include pushing deadlines that you need to think about. Planning things like cooking, decorating, or cleaning for times that work well for everyone is better.

“No” or “Wait” Needs to Mean Just That

Nobody enjoys being told “no” or that they need to wait. However, when things are a bit busy, that is what people need to hear if you’re being asked to do something that’s inconvenient. Boundaries are for everyone’s benefit, and the holidays are an especially important time to make sure you have them. A lot of needless stress during this time often comes from people not setting boundaries or not enforcing them.

Requesting to do something at a different time is a much kinder, gentler alternative to a flat-out “no.” Besides being a “nicer” form of refusal, it doesn’t take away the possibility of doing the task. You’re simply agreeing to do things on your terms, according to your schedule.

The Benefits of a Different Get-Together Date

Members of blended or even large families may find holiday gatherings overwhelming. When the family members live in different areas, this may cause additional difficulties. However, one of two alternate dates might prove a good option.

New Year’s Eve is a great alternative if your guests will stay overnight and you still have your decorations up. This is a better alternative to being out on the road with too many people having started their festivities early. Exchanging gifts can be a fun way to celebrate the New Year.

Epiphany (Jan. 6) is also a great time to exchange gifts. In some countries, Epiphany is the traditional date for exchanging gifts. If you’re looking to escape the drama and craziness that often comes on Dec. 25th, this date might be a perfect opportunity.

Self-care is always important, especially during the holidays.  The sooner you take charge of your self-care, the fewer holiday-time hassles you’ll encounter.


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