T’is the season to feel TIRED. The holidays are always packed with parties, activities, and errands. But when my calendar is filled to the brim, I often forget to put self-care on the schedule.
Sure, I'm nurturing my relationships and having fun, but I’m often completely burnt out by the end of the holiday season because I haven't taken the time to focus on my own needs. I hate the feeling of starting a new year when my emotional tank is empty, and it takes weeks to get over the repercussions of not giving myself enough personal space during the holidays.
The holidays can act like a pressure cooker for our relationships and expectations. It’s not uncommon to experience psychological extremes–both good and bad. TBH, I’m emotionally exhausted thinking about it. It’s easy to see why it’s important to include time for self-care during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, but the trick is to schedule it before you’re in the thick of it. Whether that means carving out ten minutes to meditate or taking time out from holiday shopping to read a good book, a self-care routine can help you avoid a mid-holiday breakdown.
So how do you practice self-care when your schedule is completely packed? Here are five tips on avoiding holiday burnout:
Don’t do it alone. One of the biggest pitfalls I make during the holidays is trying to micromanage every task and appointment in my calendar. I like to feel in control, but usually, this just leaves me feeling overwhelmed by all the things I have to do by myself — read: cranky AF.
By delegating gift wrapping to my partner or requesting a night of babysitting from my in-laws, I’m giving myself a little extra mental space so I can focus on the most important tasks. Don’t leave it up to other people to read your mind.
Build a ritual. I thrive during times of routine when I can go about my day knowing that it will be similar to the day before and the days to come. I have always been a creature of habit and a bit of a homebody, so when the holidays throw off my groove, I struggle to find that sense of calm I so desperately need. Create a small morning or bedtime routine to inject a feeling of mastery into an otherwise out of control schedule.
Watch your words. Whenever I’m stressed, it’s a natural inclination for me to use negative language to describe the things that are going on in my life. For instance, a dinner recipe that turns out bad becomes a complete failure. Trying to mindfully use positive language can often reduce my stress and help me face the business of the holidays with more confidence.
Put yourself on the schedule. If there’s an empty spot on my calendar and someone asks me to attend yet another event, I will likely pencil it in simply because I don’t have anything else going on. However, this is a recipe for disaster during a time when my schedule can easily become far more than I can emotionally and physically handle. Taking the time to schedule in meditation or a favourite activity like a run or yoga on an empty day before someone asks to fill that time slot reminds me that my self-care is a priority too.
Be mindful of your emotions. The holidays can be a time of very intense highs and lows, where stress and joy can sit side by side. It’s extra important to take stock of how you are feeling, so you don’t carry around negative energy without realizing it. “Keep tabs on your emotional state over the holidays, particularly in situations that might be triggering for you, like family dinners,” says Wilding. “If you’re upset over an earlier conversation you had with your ex-best friend from high school about evening plans, make sure you’re not carrying that negative emotion over into conversations with your family.”