Why A Great Beginning To Your New Year Starts NOW

Most of us are used to running around frantically during the holiday season. On top of normal life and work demands, there is so much extra we are expected to do! Including, but not limited to:

Figuring out the perfect gift for everyone on your list…
Shopping for those gifts…
Wrapping all those gifts…
Working extra hours to afford all those gifts…
Planning holiday feasts…
Cooking holiday feasts…
Parties with coworkers, family, and friends…
Decorating the house…
Keeping the house tidy for guests…
Travel to see out of town family…
Rehearsals for Christmas pageants and church…

And on and on…

I’m exhausted just thinking about all of that! I don’t know about you, but it seems like we have set a lot of unrealistic expectations. Not to mention… this type of stress just doesn’t seem healthy. But we have come to accept it as normal.

News flash! Just because something is common doesn’t mean it is normal.

Now, before you come at me with pitch forks and torches, ranting about being the Grinch, let me explain. I love the holidays, but I view this holiday pressure as just one more piece of the societal pressure “to do, be, and have all.” Truth is, you can do everything, but you can’t do everything and do it well.

I’m pretty sure we can all agree that for most of us, the holiday adds stress (whether stress is good or bad, the effects on our body are the same). Between working extra hours for holiday gift money, those dozens of extra things on our to-do list, the countless parties, and a beyond reasonable number commitments, it will eventually catch up. We will have to let something go in order to maintain all the expectations of the holiday season. I mean, we certainly can’t let everyone down, can we?

We reason that the best thing to do is to sacrifice what we know we need to be able to maintain our energy and balance in order to get things done for everyone else. If we aren’t careful, we end up sacrificing the very things we worked so hard on developing throughout the year… Then we wonder why it is so difficult to restart healthy habits when the new year rolls around…

What if there was a better way?

Hear This: Self-care is NOT selfish!!

What if we prioritized self care, not just year-round, but arguably, even more so during the busy holiday seasons? If we don’t make time for self in the midst of all of this, our self-care reserve will dwindle down to empty. That way we aren’t starting from behind when January 1st rolls around.

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A few thoughts and suggestions about how to do this:

-If it isn’t necessary and it isn’t a “heck yes!” then say no! Remember that anything you say yes to means that you will have to say no to something else. This helps put things into better perspective when choosing to turn down or accept invites.

-Create extra room for rest and activities that relax and recharge you.

-Plan ahead as much as possible. Keep track of the necessary events and don’t overbook. You can always show up last minute, but saying no and backing out is much more uncomfortable.

-Lay out expectations with family for what kind of time frame is appropriate and fair notice for being asked to do things. If I’ve made my grocery trip for the upcoming event and I’m asked to bring something additional after I’ve double and triple checked that everyone has what they are expecting from me set, I just say I am sorry, it is too short notice.

-Know what your triggers and stressors are and create boundaries. Use those who can and are willing to help buffer situations when possible.

-Build in time for exercise, maintain good nutrition, and prioritize sleep. DO NOT SACRIFICE THESE! Reducing stress starts with these pillars.

-Let go of the idea of perfection and try to keep perspective. Don’t get bent out of shape over something that neither you or your family will remember come January 1st. It may seem like a huge deal right now, but try to imagine how you’ll feel about it in a few months.

-Don’t compare. I used to beat myself up over not being able to do as much as “so-and-so” (if I am honest, sometimes I still do, but I’m getting better). The best analogy I ever heard was that we are all carrying a plate and we only have so much space on that plate to fill. Not everyone has the same size plate. Meaning, not everyone can carry as much as the next person may be able to before stuff starts to spill over and slide off creating a mess. To me this plate analogy is a great depiction of our mental space.

-Practice gratitude. When all else fails, step back at take a moment to be grateful. Give thanks to the Lord for all He has done and for the unique blessing of the true reason for the Christmas season. Remind yourself how blessed you are to have what you do and be in that moment and frame of mind as often as possible.

-Check in with yourself often. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Honor it. Need more sleep? Get it. Need more space? Take it.

-A morning routine (organized and intentional alone time first thing in the morning) goes a long way to help with stress levels throughout the day. This is another healthy habit along with sleep, healthy food, and exercise that I can’t go long without before I feel the impacts.

| Kaci


 

Linking up with Amanda for ToL!


 

Reader Questions:
1/ Do you have a hard time with extra stress during the holidays?
2/ Do you find your healthy habits and self care take a back seat, or are you good about maintaining them during this time of year?

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