We often neglect ourselves around the holidays, trying to do everything for others. You matter!
During the holidays it's go-go-go! We easily become stressed, short-tempered and overwhelmed. I have a very simple suggestion for you that might seem obvious, but I don't see a lot of people (outside of my clients!) doing it!
Take time for self-care!
Seriously. I'm listing some ideas here to help you fill your oil lamp, put the oxygen mask on yourself first - however you want to see it. Taking care of you is vital to your, um, vitality! As well as your sanity.
It's also worthwhile to understand that you are teaching others, by your behavior, how they should treat you. If you are playing the martyr, not asking for help, doing or giving too much, others will continue to expect that of you. When you begin to realize that:
- It's okay to ask for help
- Your home doesn't have to be perfect
- It's fine if the home décor doesn't reflect a Martha Stewart magazine
- Everyone deserves time to refuel
- Sometimes good enough is perfect
... you will enjoy yourself much more, and teach those around you how to treat you. You'll also be a role model to remind others about self-care. (When you teach by example - whether to your kids, friends, or colleagues, this is actually a position of leadership! Imagine what your kids, etc. might learn about taking care of themselves. Isn't that what you want for them?)
So, I'd like to offer some slightly different suggestions for self-care. I'm a big fan of the mani-pedi, or get a massage or facial, but here are a few things you might not have thought of, and that don't cost a cent. They should all last between 15-30 minutes, although some can be "quick-fixes" during stressful moments.
- Breathwork: Stop and take time to relax. Using your breath is one of the most effective and efficient ways of oxygenating your blood vessels, relaxing your muscles, de-stressing, and improving your mindset. Here is a simple exercise: lengthen your exhalation to twice the length of your inhalation. So, if you naturally inhale to the count of 4, try lengthening your exhalation to 8. This will slow your heart rate pretty quickly. You can also just spend a few moments breathing into your heartspace. Simply think of people and things you love, and breathe that. If a negative thought begins to enter your mind, simply acknowledge it, and let it go.
- Take an aromatherapy bath: simply soaking in a warm tub with essential oils will transport you. Light a candle, and just be. Try not to organize to do lists, worry about dinner or who you should be calling. Your brain needs time to relax. You'll be much more efficient when you do. Try: lavender, rose, chamomile, geranium or sandalwood. I also like ylang-ylang and lemongrass, personally! (PS: This would be a good place to try your breathwork!)
- Create your own afternoon tea ceremony: I'm not talking traditional black English tea, because you don't need the caffeine! Choose an herbal (or white or green tea if you must have some caffeine) tea. Find a beautiful teapot and/or mug that gives you pleasure to use. (If you don't have one, it might be a nice holiday gift for your list?) Choose something with a great aroma, like rose, lavender, or citrus. Really enjoy the aroma, the ritual of creating the tea, and promise yourself that you will just sit and look, reflecting on the beauty that is outside your window. If you live in a warmer climate, you might take a beautiful, slow walk with your tea.
- Learn to SEE: We spend so much time choosing gifts, rushing around, that we rarely stop to notice the (mostly!) beautiful decorations, the light snow on the trees or the blue sky at dusk. Take the time to breathe in the beauty of the season, feel it fill you up inside, making the decision that you can choose your focus at any time. It's supposed to be a season of joy, not panic or stress.
- Exercise: Okay, this might be one that you've thought of, but I can't stress enough how important it is to move in some way, every day. Even if it's 15 minutes of stretching or yoga, you must lubricate your joints, move the lymph around and pump your blood around your body. In Chinese medicine, exercise moves stagnant "qi". It's one of the best mood boosters in the world. Find some good classes, go for a walk, or take time to do something on a mat in your home.
- Engage in rituals: There are many rituals you can Google on the internet. Whether it's using products you buy to indulge yourself during your shower or bath, or "smudging" yourself and space, or maybe using prayers, crystals, or plants to connect to your spiritual side, you can find innumerable ways to create a ritual that teaches your body, mind, and spirit that it's time to relax. If you do these things often, your body will be trained, in a Pavlovian way, to relax once you begin the repeated actions.
- Use music: in any of these rituals, especially if it is relaxing, although jumping up and down and dancing to music can also be a treat for you!
- Cuddle someone or some creature you love! No explanation needed.
All of these ideas are things that are great to install in your calendar! If you don't put it in as something you must do, you will easily fall to the bottom of your priority list. Schedule time for you, and look forward to it!