Self Care During The Holidays

Candles - self care during the holidays

The holidays are supposed to be joyful, right?!? And they can be – or they can be total chaos.

Overachievers and perfectionists (which I KNOW many of you identify with!) have a special challenge during the holidays – taking perfectionism and applying it to holiday cheer.

You have to find the best gift for everyone, get out your glue gun to create the most perfect ugly Christmas sweater, decorate your house and tree and cookies to look like a Pinterest board, and put that stupid Elf On A Shelf in the most creative place each day (I’m not a parent, so maybe I shouldn’t comment on this, but I do not get Elf On A Shelf! It seems like just one more thing on the to-do list during an already busy time.)

It’s time to stop. You are not responsible for creating the perfect holiday.

But even if you know that logically, it can still be hard. And this is a busy time of year for most people even if they aren’t overachieving at holiday making.

Here are my top 3 tips for self-care during the holidays:

  • Say no. I’ve written about saying no many times. It’s because most of us need to do it WAY more. The holidays are no exception. You get to say no to a party invite or a cookie exchange or even a volunteer event. Your no is not a judgment on the person extending the invite or your relationship or the worthiness of the activity – it’s just a no.
  • Take 5 minutes of your day just for yourself (or more if that works for you!): December is actually a slow time of the year for me in my business, which means it’s a good time of year to start new habits. Before diving into work each morning, I’m spending a few minutes journaling. I light a candle and write. It’s the perfect start to the day. You can take a bath, sit quietly with your cup of coffee, or just breathe for a few minutes.
  • Choose present over perfect: I’m stealing this from a book title (one I haven’t actually read but had to buy because of the title and is now sitting on my shelf). You will be more joyful this holiday season if you are present. Throw perfection out the window. Enjoy right now. Love the people you’re with. Doing this will create the moments you wanted in the first place.

Stop “Should-ing” All Over Yourself

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Last spring I was invited to take a day of no obligation.

A day when I followed exactly what my heart and body told me to do.

A day to unhook from all the “shoulds” in my life and just BE.

It was kind of amazing.

And also completely eye-opening to see how much I followed the “should”.

One situation in particular still sticks with me. I completed a hiking loop in a park and immediately thought, “I have time, I should do another loop.”

But then I caught myself. Did I actually WANT to do another loop?

The answer was a clear NO.

I had enjoyed my hour of hiking and it was time to be done.

I realized that I have a big “should” around exercise – mainly that more is always better. That belief has led me in the past to exercise when I was sick or exhausted and to punish myself for overeating by trying to burn all the calories that I had consumed.

I thought I had put these beliefs behind me. That I exercised for my health and because it felt good.

And yet – this SHOULD to do another hiking loop just to get more exercise was my automatic thought.

It was only because I had taken this purposeful day of no obligation that I paused to question my thoughts.

What “shoulds” are you holding onto?

Do you stop yourself from rocking the boat because you SHOULD be the nice girl?

Are you staying in a job because you SHOULD like it?

Do you say yes every time someone asks for your help because you feel like you SHOULD, even if you’re already completely overloaded?

Instead of following your “shoulds” start asking yourself what you really want.

Do you want to speak your mind even if it means rocking the boat?

Is your job actually rewarding and fulfilling?

Do you want to say no without an excuse or apology?

A life of should is not happy. It is overwhelming, stressful, and misaligned to our values.

Following what we actually want is engaging and fun. It can also be hard – but in a good way! The way that makes us learn and grow. And it’s always satisfying. Because it’s authentic and real. Because it’s us showing up exactly as we are.

So start asking what you really want. And stop shoulding all over yourself.

Heather Whelpley is a coach and speaker that works with high achieving women that want to stop overwhelm and get back their joy while still having a successful career. Click here to get the Five Steps To Reclaim Your Joy.