Ok I am the first to recognize I usually notice my body is stressed when I get a migraine. My neck gets tight, my shoulders in pain, and I feel a stabbing going to my head. Especially during the Holidays, we want to do everything, get everything done, and often in the hustle and bustle forget to pay attention to the body signals. Schedule a body check in through the day. Ask what your body is feeling, how it is talking to you, and make a conscious effort to respect its needs.
2. Self care is a HAVE to not a CAN do
I have to take self-care on a daily basis. Whether it is for five minutes or a half an hour, I have to find a way to take care of me. I have to say lately, a trip to Target to run errands, or do a load of laundry, honestly is self-care. Every day it is different, based on my needs, and time limitations. Make self-care a priority in your day, something to be scheduled, and not pushed aside. ME time is not wasted time.
3. Let Go of Doing it ALL
I cannot do it all. I don’t even think I can do a few small things sometimes. With a new puppy, my life is chaotic. I barely have time to breathe. Write a list, think about priorities, and do what you can and let the rest go. It will be there to handle when it is time. We also are allowed to relax, to be lazy, to sit and just have quiet time. We can tell the should monster to shut up.
My mom would laugh at me now, since I would laugh at her growing up, with her lists, her Tupperware, and things to make life easier. Well now I get it. Lists help organize my day, my work, and help me feel more productive and organized. Take a few moments to write a list of your daily to-do’s and when you complete them, cross them off, buy some gold stickers if you like and enjoy finishing even little tasks!
5. Turn OFF the Crackberry (or laptop, or iPhone, or TV)
I know I didn’t have my phone for a day and thought I would panic! After a few hours it was nice not to feel like I had to check this, or that, and was present with the people around me. Take time to separate work from play. Disconnect from everything. Take time to be present with your family. I do NOT allow the laptop in my room. I also put my iPhone into my purse when I eat out at dinner with family. Over the Holidays, to be present, turn everything off. I
6. Write a Quick Grateful List
I know when I am struggling, a list of things I am grateful for, and I feel so much better because it gives me a new perspective to view things, and shifts my internal energy from focusing on the negative, to focusing on all I have. Take five minutes to quickly jot down everything you are grateful for on a daily basis. See what effect it has in a few days on your perspective.
7. Set a Daily Intention
Before I leave the house I set a daily intention. Sometimes it is simply to remember to breathe, do just one thing at a time, or think before I speak. Sometimes my intentions change throughout the day. I do this to help keep me mindful on where I want my day to go, and helps me plan how to approach my day. An intention gives direction to our day. Set an intention (purpose/plan) for your day in the morning, before you leave the house, write it down, carry it with you, check in during the day on how your day is going.
8. Mindful Eating
I know it is a hard time for those in recovery, and those currently still struggling. I also know a lot of people fall into the disordered eating pattern around the Holidays. I want you to know the Holidays don’t have to be about restriction, it can be one of balance, moderation, and self-love. Holiday eating being mindful can make the holidays wonderful! To taste, enjoy, savor, experience & be present. It is also important to allow lessons to be learned. If you catch yourself mindless in eating, be forgiving & kind! Not cruel to yourself.
Mindful eating includes balance, enjoying foods. Recognizing food isn’t good/bad, or punishment or gifts. Be mindful of thoughts about food. I do not see Holiday eating as on or off track. I stay mindful, eat what I want ALL in moderation. I also think cooking has been a huge part of my recovery & learning to eat mindfully, savor, smell & connect again with ALL my sense.
Pay attention to your body. It also helps to have support, someone you can call, remember to take breaks, be at your OWN pace. No need to eat at anyone else’s speed. Learn to ask yourself and recognize HALT: are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired? Pay attention to your signals & what you are feeling. Ask whether you are truly hungry. In the end, practice patience with yourself! Every day is different, and your body will tell you what it needs; and if your body isn’t telling you what it needs, or you are having an off day, find a meal schedule to stick to, eat every few hours. To be mindful of YOUR eating experience, you need to be LESS mindful & comparing to others. Focus on what is right for you. No one else.
9. Stress Outlet
I know when I am stressed I tend to become snippy, tired, say things I don’t mean, or shut down completely. I also know there are things that help. A truly effective stress reliever is exercise, studies have shown this over and over, it is a natural mood booster. Even a five-minute walk helps me. Pilates, yoga, running, stretching, beading, artwork are all examples of stress outlets we can utilize. I even sometimes like to text someone, just to say I am losing my mind! Just to be heard by a friend when I feel a bit crazed. I also think having a safe place to visualize can help. I often imagine myself at the beach, and experience all there is, in sounds, smells, sights, colors, feelings, etc. Create a list of healthy coping skills that you can pull out when stressed, especially since in the moment of stress you may not remember anything can help, so having a list to pull out as a tool can help guide you.
10. Remember what the Holidays are About
I have been searching the internet for the last week in a PANIC that I am a bad daughter for not having gifts for my parents. My parents said I didn’t have to get anything for them, that there was no reason to spend money, and yet the guilt has been a big nagging in my brain. I KNOW the holidays are about family, love, time, memories and experiences, but somehow my brain loves to tell myself that I need to spend something to buy some “thing” to show them. For this one, I had to stop looking online, because it took time from my partner, my puppy, and let go. One could say I took all the tips I laid out in this post and applied it to remind myself what the Holidays mean to me. For me it is a time of reflection. A year-end, a new year, a journey through time, and experiences. It is about saying out loud to all those I love how grateful I am. It is about recognizing the self journey I am on and giving myself kudos for all jobs (small and large) well done.
What do the Holidays mean to you? What is most important?
9) Build in wiggle room – No matter how well you have planned, things will pop up that you didn’t expect. Traffic. Multiple store stops to find a hard to find item. A loved one with a problem.
When you build wiggle room into your plan, you have the time to adjust to the variabilities of the season with grace and peace. You also have the space to put down your plans and be compassionate when folks need help that is not in your plan…
10) Rest -The season can sometimes feel like a headlong dash to the holiday, jingling all the way. It’s important, though, as you try to accomplish all of these wondrous things, that you also need to listen to your body and get rest, whether it be a nap, another hour of sleep, or just a break, when you need it. Without it, you can find yourself sick, cranky or Scrooge-like. If, on the other hand, you rest when you need it, you’ll be able to enjoy the season and also be kind to those aroud you.
Just finished putting my own set of holiday tips for keeping your center and having a cool Yule, so this was very much on my mind. I’v also got a great 30 second stress release posted in early December on my blog at if that would be of use to you and those who read you.