My email inbox is overflowing with lists of best gifts, recipes, and holiday deals. Having to focus on all that’s trying to grab my attention feels pretty overwhelming right about now! And when I think of the holiday season straight through to New Year’s, I can easily slip into that whirlpool of building tension and too many expectations piling up. The result: putting myself, my health, and my desire for ease and grace on the back burner.
When I consider, the solution all boils down to setting boundaries, which are really challenged at this time of year. Facing dinners, parties, presents, family, errands, and interactions with everyone from friends to casual acquaintances and even the mailman, the resulting overwhelm makes setting some “lines in the sand” to navigate this season more important than ever.
So this year, I’m compiling a list of things I want to avoid doing if I’m to maintain that sense of calm that’s my real bottom line. I’d like to share it with you, so that maybe you, too, will be inspired to come up with your own list of actions to stay away from—and quickly!
#1- I’m NOT getting exhausted.
Yes, I’m lucky to have received invitations, but I’m not going to have the rest I need unless I pace myself and spend time at home, well, resting. For someone who rises early and “hits the ground running,” I know that staying out too late on a “school night” can impact my entire next day—or even week! Sometimes, I am even going to have to politely say “no” to a few potential plans, which leads me to…
#2- I’m NOT going to participate in FOMO.
Short for Fear of Missing Out, this acronym can mean feeling left out of fun or happiness that others may be enjoying. While that’s easy to experience when looking at social media and viewing the report of other people’s activities, I’m going to let FOMO go in honor of self-care. Instead, I intend to enjoy JOMO, or the Joy of Missing Out, by knowing that I can’t be everywhere, so I’ll choose carefully where and when to spend my precious free time. And without guilt and regret! Which leads me to…
#3- I’m NOT going to be hard on myself.
That inner self-critic could really have a field day during the holiday season. Where I actually decided to go (or not), what I ate, wore, said…the list could be endless—but only if I let it. I’m calling a truce to self-judgment and instead will use gentle self-compassion to just be. I truly hope you’ll join me in cultivating mindfulness this holiday season, a “gift that keeps on giving” to yourself. Mindfulness in this sense includes observing the negative statements of the internal voice and not making room for it.
#4- I’m not going to save up calories during the day for nighttime events.
As easy as such an approach sounds, that’s always been a tough one for patients, and for me. Knowing in advance that a dinner or party food is ahead, skimping on meals earlier in the day seems like a good idea. However, that strategy always backfires, because arriving over-hungry is an almost certain sign that I’ll indulge in more eating than usual. This year, I’ll be sure to “eat before I eat,” so that I won’t arrive starved, and I’ll wait to fill my plate until I scope out the selections first.
#5- I’m NOT going to feel vulnerable with family friends and relatives.
OK, maybe I DO say this every year, but this year is going to be different, I promise! What’s new is the plan I’m making for how to reply to the usual questions from relatives and family friends that can be tedious, or worse, intrusive. Concerned about being patient and polite, I’ll know now what to say that preserves my integrity and sets boundaries if need be—understanding that everyone is trying their best and usually acts out of genuine concern. Some discussion topics are better left alone (i.e., no politics for me), and I prefer not to engage certain people in endless conversation. Even though my patience will be surely tested, I know in advance what I can do or say to be firm, yet tactful, while being prepared to bring a heaping helping of each this year.
So, in my quest to have a happy, peaceful holiday season with self-care and enjoyment, I’m ready to launch into the holiday time—without being a Scrooge. My wishes go out to you, as well, for a happy, healthy, and safe time whatever your plans! And please, be kind to yourself.