The holidays are the best and worst of times—for me at least! I love spending time with my peoples but find it difficult to keep up with my chosen lifestyle habits when I’m around my family and friends who don’t have any sort of health or spiritual wellness regime. (I may or may not have reverted to the 15-year-old version of myself two years ago…)
New places, old relationships, and different schedules can throw our self-care routines all out of whack. How did I avoid the inner-turmoil last year? I PREPARED! I thought about the actions that I needed to do to show up as my best self for my family and then created a plan to make sure that I stayed true my intentions.
I hope you find the following checklist useful for your holiday preparation!
√ Create alone time
Nothing is worse than a full house when you are used to living alone. As much as you love all the little rascals or playing board games with the family, it’s important to carve out time for yourself. Maybe it’s in the morning before the rest of the house wakes up or maybe you volunteer to take the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood. Find a way to ensure that you get some time alone during the holiday madness.
Last year, I literally spent an extra 15 minutes in the bathroom during my morning routine to get some time alone. I turned on my chill playlist and sat at the vanity for some peace amidst the family chaos. These few moments allowed me time to say my affirmations in the mirror, speak my gratitude, and read my devotional.
√ Monitor drug and alcohol use
Family gatherings and holiday parties may or may not bring large quantities of drugs and alcohol. Be smart about imbibing! This sounds obvious, but peer (and family) pressure is a thing. Set a limit for yourself or come up with a fun mocktail to have during the festivities.
√ Practice a healthy relationship with food
All the cookies and candies and yummies to enjoy! All the things you are good about limiting the other 364 days a year. It’s TOTALLY fine to have sweets and meats during the holiday but be mindful of what you are putting in your body—especially if it is out of alignment to what you usually eat. You can keep a food journal on your phone (to track the number of cookies you have in a day) or you can decide which of the treats you’d like to indulge on and say no to the others! I kept a running list of sweets for the day and cut myself off after 5. You don’t have to cut things out completely, just set a boundary and hold yourself to it.
√ Prepare for family interactions
Let’s be honest. Family can be difficult sometimes. Being around the people who “know you the best” or have known you since diapers have expectations that no longer align with who you are. Think about the things that trigger your worst reactions and plan interventions. Then think about the things that you love about everyone and brainstorm how to capitalize on those during your shared time together.
Spend some time before the family/friend gathering to mull over topics and activities to avoid or be mindful about. When Grandma Sue brings up the controversial football team or Aunt Mick wants to talk politics, you can decide how you want to show up. Maybe you engage or maybe you shift the conversation to more neutral waters. I always get heated when I’m playing a board game with my brother-in-law. It’s taken a lot of practice to not take “trash talk” personal and to not engage in it. I literally returned every instigation with an overly nice reply—just to keep myself in check. Do what you gotta do to keep your peace. No one should have the power to shift that except you.
√ Stick to your routines
If you run every day or pray every evening, keep it up during the holidays. Find the time to fit in your daily routines that help keep you sane. You can even invite your family and friends in on the action. Maybe Uncle Todd would enjoy a brisk walk around the block or your niece might want to journal her daily gratitudes. Plan around the holiday schedule to make sure that you can honor your lifestyle even during breaks with family.
√ Acknowledge gratitude
This is on every single self-care list I have ever made. It’s so simple, yet so powerful. There is always something to be grateful for. Some days it’s obvious and other days it can feel nearly impossible to find something that went well. But spending time—especially family time—acknowledging gratitudes can make a good day sweeter or a long day better.
√ Accept and honor feelings
This is HUGE. Holidays are not always joyful and full of cheer. It’s okay to be sad. Honor your grief. Recognize pain or misfortune or calm. Respect feelings of gratitude or discomfort. Feel your feelings, but don’t let them control your holiday. Use them to fuel your day and interactions with people. If you are missing someone, brainstorm ways to incorporate their memory into the day. If you are feeling full of thanksgiving, ponder how you can share that with your people. If you are feeling lonely, think about how you can create connections with other folks who may be sharing that feeling.
Take care of yourself this holiday season. You are worthy of love, peace and ALL THE GOOD THINGS. xoxo Mo