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5 Tips for Self-Care During the Holidays

5 Tips for Self-Care During the Holidays

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    “Silver Bells” * sung by Stevie Wonder
    City sidewalks
    Busy sidewalks
    Dressed in holiday style
    In the air there’s a feeling like Christmas

    Children laughing
    People passing
    Meeting smile after smile
    And on every street corner you hearSilver bells, silver bells
    It’s Christmas time in the city
    Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
    Soon it will be Christmas day<
    Strings of street lights
    Even stop lights
    Blink a bright red and green
    As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
    Hear the snow crunch
    See the kids bunch
    This is Santa’s big scene
    And above all this bustle you hearSilver bells, silver bells
    It’s Christmas time in the city
    Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
    Soon it will be Christmas day

    The holidays are intended for families and special friends to come together and celebrate.  However, the commercialism of the Holiday season has filtered in, causing us much more stress than pleasure during these days.  The calendar of events and parties have us rushing and bustling about.  Our healthy diets are tossed aside and our sleep patterns are often overlooked.  It is a recipe for burn-out for many of us. The good news is that we can change the way we approach the celebrations and make sure that we are taking care of our needs during this hectic time.  Christmas is for giving.  This year, give to yourself first in order to be emotionally and physically satisfied to give to others.

    I clearly remember the first time I boarded a plane.  I was nervous as I sat down and buckled in, as instructed.  It was then that the flight attendants began the speech about what to do in the event of an emergency.  This was an eye-opening moment for me, as they stated, if we lost cabin pressure, an oxygen mask would come down in front of us and that we should put on our mask first!  I was in shock over this.  It is part of who I am to take care of those around me first. I could see myself bouncing out of my seat to go to help the little old man across the aisle or the little girl, two seats ahead of me. It was then that I realized, that if I didn’t take care of myself first, I would not have any “life” to give to others.  I  had an epiphany on the plane that day.  In fact, it was the beginning of a “self-care movement” for me.

    Here are 5 tips to help you to begin your self-care during this most wonderful time of year.

    1. Give yourself permission

    It is natural when you begin to switch your thoughts to self-care  to feel guilty, irresponsible or even selfish.  You need to give yourself permission.  Allow yourself to do “whatever” it is that you want.  If you want to say “no” to a certain event, or “no” to overspending on gifts, or “no” to hosting an event, give yourself the right to do what is best for you.  This is the beginning of self-care.  Learn to value the importance of setting boundaries. Slow down from the hustle and bustle and ask yourself, what do I want to gain during the holiday season this year?  How can I make that happen?  What do I value most?  What type of traditions are important to me, that I wish to maintain?

    2. Involve all of your senses

    We don’t spend much time thinking of our senses. Our senses are important avenues for self care.  For example, think of the smell of an apple pie baking in the oven, this smell alone can bring back specific memories . Perhaps it will remind you of a time when you were younger and your mother made home made pie.  When we invoke our senses, we experience things on different levels.  Think of ways to include sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing into your self care.  In a cooking class I was in, the chef had us smell the different spices and smell the food as it was simmering on the stove-top. The enjoyment that was experienced during the preparation time continued as we ate, tasting the different flavors in the finished meal. Have a candlelight bubble bath scented with aromatic products. Sit and watch your favorite holiday movie while wrapped up in a soft blanket. Play music that is relaxing.  Experiment with ways to incorporate all of your senses during times of refreshing for your body and soul.

    3. Don’t get caught in the hustle and bustle of the season

    Plan ahead and designate specific time frames for the tasks that you need to complete or the functions that you will attend. This will give you time for mental preparation, allowing you to not be overwhelmed.  The malls and stores are extremely active at certain times of the day and week.  If possible, plan your shopping time during quieter hours, such as weekday mornings.  Shop online in the privacy of your home to avoid crowds all together.  When you do plan to be out in the crowds, calm your mind and body before going.  Realize that you don’t have to rush.  Take your time and enjoy the shopping process.  Often times, by changing our perspective of the situation, we can approach things with calmness.  We do not need to become part of the holiday frenzy.  Create a sense of peace and joy, true holiday feelings, inside your mind and spirit.

    4. Do things in moderation

    This is the time of the year where it is easy to over-indulge.  We find it easy to neglect healthy eating.  Sleeping patterns may be altered as we have more activity in our days.  We can over spend on gifts for those on our lists. The list of things that seem to trap us in extravagance may differ from person to person, however, it is common to be swept up into excessive behavior. Aristotle wisely stated, “all things in moderation.”  This is an excellent gauge for us to recall.

    5. Give up expectations

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      The holidays, particularly Christmas, can set us up for unrealistic expectations. It almost seems a “magical” time of year and we dream of the perfect holiday.  Many people struggle with depression and high anxiety over the holidays.  The crisis hotlines have an increase in calls.  Domestic violence rises.  Not everyone you meet is having a “Merry Christmas.”  Perhaps, you are one of the ones that struggle the most.  Past experiences, the loss of loved ones, the loss of a job or financial difficulty all seems to heighten during this time of year.  One of the best ways to take care of yourself during this emotionally trying time, is to give up your expectations of the perfect family with the perfect tree while hosting the perfect parties with the perfect gifts.  This type of thinking is extremely damaging to you.  As you relinquish these ideas, you are able to open yourself up to experiencing greater joy in the reality of the moment.  Let go of false illusions and celebrate the moment.  Whereever you are in your life this year, take care of yourself first.  Practice self-love abundantly  This truly is the only way to experience the true meaning of Christmas.

      May peace, joy, love and happiness be yours today and throughout the year!

      More by this author

      Charlene Tops

      Charlene is a certified life coach who is passionate about writing, speaking and teaching.

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

      We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

      We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

      So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

      Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

      What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

      Boundaries are limits

      —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

      Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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      Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

      Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

      Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

      How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

      Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

      1. Self-Awareness Comes First

      Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

      You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

      To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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      You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

      • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
      • When do you feel disrespected?
      • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
      • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
      • When do you want to be alone?
      • How much space do you need?

      You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

      2. Clear Communication Is Essential

      Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

      Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

      3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

      Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

      That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

      Sample language:

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      • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
      • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
      • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
      • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
      • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
      • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
      • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

      Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

      4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

      Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

      Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

      Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

      We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

      It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

      It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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      Final Thoughts

      Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

      Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

      Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

      The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

      Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

      Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

      They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

      Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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