Creating Intentional Holiday Traditions to Take Care of Yourself

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Creating Intentional Holiday Traditions to Take Care of Yourself
Family, Self

Evaluate your holiday traditions and decide which ones to truly enjoy and which ones to let go.

The season of extending ourselves for others is upon us. Our calendars are filling up with social engagements and our to-do lists are growing mile long with gifts to purchase and meals to plan. With this, the sense of overwhelm is slowly rising.

Aside from sticking to your meditation and breathing techniques, the most profound way you can take care of yourself in this season is to examine which holiday traditions bring you joy and which simply wear you out.

And then decide upon an action plan.

One of the gifts my divorce gave me was that I was able to evaluate my holiday rituals. With an evenly split custody, my time with my daughter was now cut in half during the holidays.

At first, this caused me pain, because I felt the loss of the situation. But after the first season was over, I realized that I could proactively change how I celebrate the holidays. And within that lay a real gift.

This is how you learn how to deal with stress and take care of yourself:

1. Let go of some tasks.

Each year, I had spent time figuring out my daughter’s Halloween costume with her. Examining Halloween, I realized that I didn’t particularly enjoy creating a new costume every year. In fact, it felt stressful.

My daughter’s grandmother, on the other hand, loved creating fancy outfits for my daughter. So I allowed her to take on that task. The two would go to the fabric store, sew for hours, and enjoy every minute of it. The costumes they created were always beautiful.

This didn’t mean I gave up on Halloween altogether. We would decorate the home in preparation, and, on the actual night, we went out together to do the trick or treating. I simply wore the same witch costume each year.

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2. Celebrate the traditions you love.

During the years I was by myself, I sat on my porch during Halloween and handed out candy to the little kids at my door. I live in a large city, where contact with the neighbors is basically non-existent. So I love sitting outside and feeling connected to my neighborhood.

My current husband will sometimes join me, but he is not particularly interested in it. However, I do this for myself because it feeds me. So I sit on my porch, whether I’m alone or not and revel in the experience.

3. Adjust expectations.

I grew up in Europe, where Thanksgiving didn’t exist. Over the years of living here, I’ve come to appreciate this day of gluttony with the family. My husband has a really large family and if we wanted, we could host a large event each year. This can be a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously over the years.

Yet, my husband and I have also learned to listen to how we feel from one year to the next. We don’t have a big production in us every year. So we discuss it in early November and decide on the scope of the event. Sometimes, we only feel like joining a friend’s meal or cooking a small version of the feast for few people.

However, since we both love pumpkin pie, we always make an extra pie. We love the tradition of eating leftovers, so we make sure we have some.

Making this decision together allows us both to feel heard and reduces the stress for both of us.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Make Sure Your Relationship Survives The Holidays

4. Create new traditions that feed you. 

What has become a new tradition in our family is Black Friday. Until a few years ago, I had never participated. By happenstance, during one year when I didn’t have my daughter, I woke up in the middle of the night. I realized that it was Black Friday and that I had never gone.

So, I rolled out of bed, put on many layers and drove around the corner to the nearest Target. To my surprise, it was blissfully empty. The mad midnight crowd had left, the early birds were not up yet, and many of the deals were still available. Accompanied by quiet Christmas music, I was able to get my entire holiday shopping done that morning.

My daughter was so intrigued by this idea that she wanted to join me the following year. And she loved it so much that we now do it each year. We lay out our warm clothes the night before, tiptoe out of the house in the dark (so as to not wake my husband who is happy to pass on this tradition), and then visit Target’s Starbucks.

There we start our adventure with a sweet, warm holiday concoction, while employees recount the mad rush of the night before. We then walk through the quiet isles getting into the spirit of giving.

Creating new traditions is a wonderful way to take care of yourself because you get to intentionally choose what it is you want to make space for in the season.

5. Include quiet time. 

My husband and I have both been divorced and our three children split the holidays between households. We celebrate with everyone on the 24th and then on the 25th, they go to their other parents.

At first, this threatened to leave a big hole in our lives. But then my husband and I realized that it offered a welcome opportunity for us to create our own new tradition.

We decided to pack our bags early on the 25th and head out for a few days of vacation. We never go very far but we found that resorts in our area have good prices over the holidays and so we take off for a few days.

This is our time to rejuvenate in the quiet. We read, walk, get massages, explore new restaurants, and just enjoy this magical quiet time together. As it’s the end of the year, we both sit together and create vision statements for our coming year and discuss what it is we want to create together. This practice brings us closer each year.

This tradition has become one of our most treasured times of the year. It is a tradition that we created that has a meaning for us and excites us.

It’s something we will keep up, not because we were told to, but rather because we see its benefit to our relationship. Even in years, when we cannot afford a hotel stay, we still dedicate these days to rest, spend time together, and work on our annual goals together.

How Do You Want To Take Care Of Yourself?

Everyone is different. What gives one joy is depleting to another. Holiday traditions become exhausting because every year we try to uphold them all. To take care of yourself this season, take a step back, evaluate, and think about which traditions really feed your soul.

To help you transform your holidays, download my free Guide to Creating Holidays You Love. It will help you examine your holidays and create the changes you desire.

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Selina Schuh is an educator, author, speaker, and owner of Empowered Living Strategies. She teaches women who are feeling frustrated and under-appreciated in their relationships step-by-step skills to create deeply connected relationships. Click here to visit her library of free resources.

This article was originally published at Empowered Living Strategies. Reprinted with permission from the author.