5 Quick Tips for Holiday Self-Care
As parent caregivers, we try so hard to provide a festive and joyful experience for the family we love, in spite of challenging circumstances. Sometimes, we are even willing to sacrifice our own well-being in the process. That is why it is so important that we learn to make effective self-care a priority in every season.
Below, are 5 effective strategies for holiday self-care that will help you to tame the chaos and prioritize your personal wellness throughout this stressful time of year. Because, let’s face it, if you do not prioritize your own self-care needs, you won’t have the strength, energy and resources that you need to prepare an enjoyable holiday for your family and, more importantly, you won’t be able to enjoy making memories, for your own sake. After all, that is what holidays are all about!
Here are 5 of my favorite quick tips for HOLIDAY self-care:
Quick Holiday Self-Care Tip #1 – Start Early:
Managing the needs of your family and household requires a lot of mental energy, and the details of the holidays only add to your already heavy mental load. One of the most effective ways to avoid getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of a too long “to do” list is to start planning early.
Starting your holiday preparations early has several benefits. First, the more time you give yourself to plan, the more thoroughly you can consider all the details. This minimizes the possibility that any of your best loved traditions will fall through the cracks. Second, beginning early allows you to spread out those many tasks over a longer period of time. This prevents you from facing a situation where you have too much on your plate, all at once, and you will have to start letting go of things you don’t have time for. Another benefit of starting early is that you can identify those tasks you might want extra help with.
That leads us to…
Quick Holiday Self-Care Tips #2 - Delegate:
Sometimes, life throws a curve ball that demands your complete attention. Sometimes, this happens during the holiday season. As a result, you may not have the time and attention to focus on your usual holiday preparations and experiences. When this happens, it is common to feel disappointment over missed opportunities and unmet expectations. You might even feel guilty over what you aren’t able to follow through on this year.
But who said that YOU have to be the one to make all the magic happen? Don’t dismiss the option of handing off some of the preparations to holiday “elves” for a change. Think of some basic, but time consuming, tasks that are at high risk of falling through the cracks. What if you asked a family member or friend to wrap some gifts, address cards, or bake an extra dozen cookies for your freezer?
One year, when I was recovering from surgery, one of my child’s teachers baked some extra cut out cookies, mixed up some frosting, and delivered them to our door. Not only did she save me the job of baking the cookies myself, but she provided the supplies we needed for our family’s cookie decorating tradition. It was fantastic!
Quick Holiday Self-Care Tip #3 - Don't Forget About You:
Just because you are the primary holiday coordinator for your family, doesn’t mean that the holidays aren’t for you too. Think about what makes the holidays feel special for you. What do you most look forward to when it comes to these seasonal celebrations? It is a life-long holiday tradition from when you were young? Is it a special seasonal treat or a family member you always visit? Maybe, it’s a special service you attend.
How can you incorporate these activities into your holiday celebrations? Don’t dismiss these things as unimportant or as distractions from what your kids really want to do. Holidays are precious opportunities for you to recharge and refuel in order to carry you through the challenging months ahead. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by.
Quick Holiday Self-Care Tip #4 - Set Clear Expectations:
One of the biggest sources of stress, during the holidays, comes from trying to meet everyone else’s expectations. It becomes much easier when we stop guessing what those expectations are and get clear about what we really need to do and what we don’t. Communicate early with your loved ones about who will be expecting gifts, budget limits, coordinating celebrations, etc.
Setting clear expectations allows you to plan ahead without the pressure to do more than is actually necessary. Remember that it isn’t just about MEETING expectations others have of you but SETTING expectations that you have of them. It is OK to be honest about your current limitations and what you might need others to do so that you can participate in a way that works for you. Under your current circumstances, what are you realistically able to do without overextending yourself physically, emotionally and financially, etc.
Quick Holiday Self-Care Tip #5 - Be Present:
Speaking of expectations… Managing the expectations you have of yourselves can be the hardest part.
As a parent caregiver, I know that you really want to make the holidays special for your loved ones, especially for your kids. Sometimes, you might even overcompensate to make up for the hard times your family has to endure the rest of the year. However, it is important to remember that even the most “magical” celebration can’t take the place of a mom or dad who is present and engaged in truly enjoying the holiday WITH their children.
Nothing is more special for your children, or other family members, than having you nearby, interacting with them in a way that is relaxed and undistracted. This is especially true if they have not seen you this way in quite some time. They will remember your presence far more than they will remember the gifts under the tree, the decorations or any of the other holiday trimmings.
As much as we want to ensure happy family memories for our children, these are precious moments, in time, for us too. While you may not believe it right now, these good memories will be what you remember from this time, despite the coinciding challenges. It won’t be the quantity of your celebrations that will stick with you, though, it will be just those few quality moments spent with those you love.
For more resources to support you in your caregiving role, follow my “Holiday Self-Care Tips” board on Pinterest!
As always, do not try to apply all of these quick tips for holiday self-care at one time. It is always better to focus your attention on just one action until it becomes a natural part of your self-care practice before adding another. Approaching self-care this way, increases the likelihood that you will stay consistent, be successful and enjoy the benefits of your efforts long-term.
Self-Care Action Discussed in This Post:
Choose just one of the 5 quick tips for holiday self-care discussed above, or another action of your choice, to safeguard your own well-being and create the space you need to enjoy the holiday season with your family.
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