Listening to yourself, practicing self-care, whatever you would like to call it we are oftentimes bad about seeing the signs our body gives us. Most of the time, as much as I don’t like saying this, it doesn’t matter that much. Why? Because not that much goes on in the spring, the summer, even the early month or two of fall. That means that we can ignore our body and mind telling us to slow down, take a break, or stop altogether because there’s not that much happening.
But what happens when we aren’t in the habit of listening and November rolls around?
The first thing we’ll notice is how awful we feel. We get tired, we’re cold, we’re angry. It feels like we’re constantly waking up on the wrong side of the bed and as if we haven’t slept a wink. We might start overeating (a product of fatigue and stress) in an effort to scrounge up some energy and feel good chemicals for our brain.
We’re self-medicating where we can and struggling throughout our day to day life. Sound like the holidays?
It gets worse.
Another thing we’ll notice is that suddenly, we’re getting sick. We have a cold, something else, or a cold that we cannot shake. Our immune system is suffering from the stress. From not taking care of ourselves during the year and especially during the holiday season.
There are other things as well, but there’s one final point I want to touch on. We get mean. When we’re tired, worn down, over stressed, and not engaging in self-care, our attitudes suffer. No one wants to be this way during such a beautiful season. But that doesn’t matter. Our personalities and our relationships with everyone we come into contact with become the victim of this neglect.
And that’s what not engaging in self-care really is about: neglect.
It’s an ugly word. It’s a heavy word. There are two definitions, noun vs verb. One, we fail to take care of ourselves (sad…our body relies on us to take care of it). Second, the state of being uncared for (still so sad, animals die from this and we get upset. But we don’t care about us?). I’m going by the dictionary with these and unfortunately, both fit the situation. We are neglecting ourselves. We are suffering from neglect.
We are failing to take care of ourselves.
That’s our whole job. That’s it. Our lives boil down to living. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, we aren’t doing our job right. Of course, being as far evolved I guess as we are we have a little bit more to do than just eat and drink. We have to exercise. And we have to nourish our spirit with kindness. And we have to make sure our mental health is stable.
It seems harsh to say we engage in acts of neglect. But we need to be honest with ourselves.
So now we know we do this. Now we know that we aren’t kind to ourselves and are setting ourselves up for a miserable holiday season. But what if I said that the holidays don’t have to be that stressful? What if I said that there are people out there who have a fun, relaxed holiday season? And that I’m one of them?
You probably wouldn’t believe me. But there’s a reason why I’m like this. And thankfully, there are steps that you can take to slow down and enjoy the season too.
1. Don’t let go of things you enjoy
This seems to be the biggest thing that happens when we get busy. Out goes everything we actually enjoy doing. For example, I’m a runner and I love running. But during the holiday season it can be very tough to keep to a consistent schedule. I also love to read and analyze poetry (sue me, I’m weird). Well, I stop doing that the moment I start getting busy because in my head, I don’t have time for then.
What we all need to be doing is recognizing, “yes, I am busy” and “I need to make special time to enjoy these things because they make me happy”. We can’t sacrifice our happiness and calmness for a holiday party, or shopping, or anything. Shopping, parties, movies, everything is here for us to enjoy. That’s important to remember. Making it something we hate or making it something that breaks down our happy habits negates its entire existence.
2. Do remember to relax
This goes along the same vein as the previous number in that the things we enjoy can often help us relax. Reading, running, all that. But I mean that during this season we need to make a concerted effort to relax. That means hot cocoa or tea at night with a movie or a short or some funny YouTube videos. Or just some quiet. It means a bath, a bubble bath, an Epsom salt bath (highly recommend). Meditate. Lie down in a dark room, some soft lights, a candle. Engage all of your sense and relax.
Remember too, it doesn’t have to be long or even a big deal. Just something that makes you feel calm. It can be five minutes. It can be a nighttime yoga or a midday walk. Or both! Carving out five to ten minutes once, twice, or ten times a day to relax is necessary to keep ourselves happy and fresh.
3. Water, food, sleep, and exercise
Stay hydrated. Keep eating right. Focus on maintaining your exercise routine. Don’t wait for January first to start fixing your errors. Work on setting up a sustainable routine that you can stick to. Sleep! Sleep is so important and we need to prioritize it. I know you’ve heard me say that a million times, but that’s because it’s extremely important for us to function and be healthy. Don’t forget about these four large pillars of physical and mental health.
4. Everything else
Look, everything can be an act of self-care. It kind of depends on where you are in your life. Making your bed…self care. Making sure laundry doesn’t pile up, that the house stays clean…self care. Eating according to a schedule. Brushing and flossing your teeth. Getting your hair cut. Trimming your nails. Using chapstick, carmax, something like that.
You need to take care of you. And you know what that means.
What is important is that you focus on your life, you focus on your health, and set up your priorities. When we have large stressors coming into our lives, or any stress, we start panicking and thinking that it’s building up and building up when it isn’t.
So, around the holidays, when you feel stress about going out or anything take a moment and actually count on your fingers what is going on in that moment, that day. How much do you really have going on. Next step, just breathe. Relax. Take a deep breath in, listen to a positive video, and tell yourself that you’ll enjoy it. That this is okay.
Remember, you need to take care of you. And only you know what that means.