|By Sarah Carlson, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®
Taking care of yourself in a time full of high expectations for joy can be a daunting task. It's not surprising that the holidays are some of the most stressful times of the year for Americans, and why self-care is important. How to feel like you are enough is challenging—unrealistic expectations, financial pressures and excessive commitments can lead to all kinds of unpleasantness. For many people, this season of life can even be a recipe for burn-out and exhaustion. After all, this time of year is typically the time where most of us are socializing, stressing and spending more, and sleeping less.
Self-care is vital year round, but during a time that is all about office parties, family events and gift-giving, it can be difficult to carve out the time to focus on yourself. So whether you know that you usually go into over-serving mode over the holidays, or are simply interested in taking extra good care of yourself over the next month, read on for some holiday tips for taking care of yourself.
1. Slow Down
Although at first carving out time for you can make you feel selfish, guilty, or even irresponsible, you need to give yourself permission to do so. Your mindset matters, and carve out time intentionally to just be you. Slow down and find the things that give you small bits of joy throughout your day.
2. Practice Gratitude
Sometimes we are so busy that we miss the very obvious blessings around us. Maybe it's the half hour nap that your kids let you sneak in, or a friendly neighbor helping you shovel snow off your walk. Especially around the holidays, it can be easy at times to feel so overwhelmed with what we feel we "have to get done" that we don't notice all the positivity around us. A great way to practice gratitude is to take note of these glimmers throughout the day, whether in a journal or the notes section of your phone.
Whatever you normally do, keep doing it! Whether it is taking nightly walks after dinner, yoga, or an intense workout, exercise is one of the best ways to keep your mind sharp and clear, and hold the stress at bay. Getting fit on a budget is something anyone can do. You don't have to spend even more money to stay on track with your fitness goals.
4. Respect Your Budget
Take the time to allocate a budget for holiday gifts, events or other expenses. Once you have that number in mind, respect it. If you splurge now, you will certainly pay more later. And later comes a lot sooner than you think.
Make some room for holiday magic by not jam packing each evening and weekend with planned activities.
There are so many opportunities to give back to people and organizations in need. Pick something close to your heart and find a way you can contribute—whether that is through donated items, money, or time.
7. Let Go of Expectations
For some reason, we really like to beat ourselves up at the end of the year for all the things we've done and left undone. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be able to give up the idea of a perfect holiday, with perfect parties and perfect gifts. We all want the Norman Rockwell holiday, but holding ourselves up to this type of idea can be quite damaging. If you can work on relinquishing these ideas, you can open yourself to experiencing greater joy in the reality of the moment you are in right now. Let go of the false illusions and celebrate the present moments.
8. Just Say No
The word "no" imbues an incredible amount of freedom! Learn the importance of setting boundaries. Ask yourself, what do I want to gain from these next two months? What do I value the most? How can I create the holiday season I truly want?
How are you taking care of yourself? These are strong examples of why self-care is important. Pick from this list, or add in your own self-care ideas. However you practice self-care this holiday season, by taking care of yourself, you are taking care of those around you too! Just 10 minutes a day will help create a space where you can be more physically and emotionally available to your loved ones this holiday season.
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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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