Are you feeling the need to get focused about self-care this holiday season?
If so, then you’re in luck! What follows is my personal approach to keeping sane and healthy during the holidays. A little woo, a little not-so-woo, and a few gritty but great hacks for the holiday season.
My guiding principles are three: Keep It Simple, Shed the Shoulds and Make a Plan. With these as our guides, navigating the season becomes manageable. You’ll see elements of all three woven throughout the following tips. With a little practice you can create your own personalized plan for holiday sanity.
In fact, I’ve include a free copy of a Personalized Plan for Vibrant Energy Throughout the Holidays for you to download and work out the details for yourself.
And now, the tips for keeping your energy calm and bright over the holidays.
1. Define your personal holiday priorities. Decide what the holidays will be about for you this year. What’s your personal theme? Reconnecting? Quality time with family? Renewing spiritual connection, meditation and going within? Creativity? Rest and renewal of your body? Calm?
2. What do you love about this time of year that you would like to allow more time for? Clear, cold star-lit nights? Evenings with friends? Sparkly lights and carols? Whatever you do, make time for those things. Remember that realistic and attainable goals rule over the holidays.
3. Adopt a personal essential oil. Whether it’s lavender for calming, peppermint for perking, frankincense for transcending, or citrus for cheering, lay in a supply of your favorite essential oil, fill a new roller bottle, and make sure you have it on hand wherever you go. A whiff or two when you’re getting tense or tired can work wonders. You can also roll it onto your wrists and temples for added support.
4. Learn this 12-minute Donna Eden Energy Routine. This seriously works to re-group all the circuits. Regularly doing it seems to integrate my energy more than anything I do. I find the “hook-up” especially helpful when I can’t shut off my mind and go to sleep. (No, not that kind of hook up!)
5. Carry or wear a grounding stone or crystal. Experiment. It can even be a stone from outdoors that calls to you. Keep it in your pocket and use it as a mindfulness experience. Stones are the ground. So, they ground. Yay.
6. Get (back) into your body. Your local yoga studio has a drop-in price. Granted this might be hard to start during the holidays if you don’t already have a yoga practice. But you could schedule in one or two drop-in sessions over the whole holiday season. Not gonna do it? Try a Youtube yoga routine. Yoga with Adriene is a no-fail pick. Failing that, take 10 deep breaths. Count them. Yes, it’s a whole new world when you’re done.
7. Review the annual holiday situations that steal your light and energy. Let yourself off the hook for any shoulds you feel. If you can’t do that, is there an element of want-to that you can take hold of and build on? How do you want it to go? What kind of event or connection would be meaningful to you? Can you suggest an alternative to what’s always been? If so, be prepared to help make it happen. (Others don’t have your vision.)
8. Consider your inner child. Think fun, wonder, treats, making things, giving and magic. Even if it’s just once during the whole season, can you make a date with your inner child to do something special together?
These tips fall into the category of semi-woo, because you may not at first see what they have to do with keeping your energy calm and bright. But, depending on how woo you are, you might. No matter what your philosophy, try them! They’ll make a dent in your stress and help keep you flowing through the marathon.
9. Limit screen time. Yes, screen time can unground you, as your eyes carry you anywhere in the world that you visit online. Here’s my screen time schedule: No screens before breakfast. No screens at meals. No screen after 10 p.m. And when I break those rules, I feel it. Make your own screen time schedule.
10. Have on hand affirming, encouraging, distracting, informing, kind reading material. For me, it’s nonfiction that’s human, informative or expansive. Quantum physics, astronomy, memoir, cookbooks, coloring books, occult and mysticism, spirituality, nature. In the fiction category, historical fiction, feel-good romance, and mystery all do it. I shy away from self-help because it gets the I-need-improvement thoughts going. Yucko. I also skip violence, gossip and psychological thrillers. (These might be your thing.) And don’t forget funny shit you can count on to make you laugh out loud. Search for it. It’s there. This will no doubt be part of your screen time. Use it well.
12. Limit exposure to broadcast media of all kinds. Instead, give yourself 10 minutes in the morning or at lunch time to catch up on the headlines, then stay away from ads, news, and other fast-paced, in your face “information” for the rest of the day. At the very least, don’t “go there” at night time.
13. Schedule in downtime, and use your evening hours for quiet, relaxing activities. In other words, don’t start a big project at 8 pm on an empty stomach, for example. A wildly unlikely one, I realize. (Is it just me?)
14. Know your personal signs that you’ve had enough and take a break before your cool is lost.
15. And the best thing to do to head off loss of cool? Move your body. I know, I know. You get stuck on the couch. We all do. First, decide on something that’s easy, free and low impact, especially if you’re not a regular exerciser. Walking is queen here. Throw on a coat and some sneakers and take a walk. Even just 15 minutes outside is enough to exchange all the air in your lungs for new air, increase your metabolism, and destress your adrenals. And leave the phone at home, of course. In case of bitter cold and stiff winds, put on the music and dance! If all else fails, set an alarm once an hour and get up and walk around.
16. Invent some new ways to indulge that are healthy: a hot bath, go to the movies, a meal out at lunch time, reading time, learning a new or reviving an old craft, to name a few.
Gritty But Great Holiday Hacks
I see these as carefully calculated, expert deflections of the biggest holiday stressors, whether they’re niggly-teeny-tiny or completely dominating your whole life during this time of year.
17. Bow out of annual events early, if you know they aren’t for you. Don’t wait until the last minute. As soon as you get the invitation, decline. Mark that day on your calendar for self care, fun, or simply chilling at home, celebrating victory over a should.
18. Simplify you gift-giving. Many socially responsible organizations make it easy for you to give in someone’s name, and then give a card letting your recipient know about the donation. Spending time with people, including catching up by phone or via Skype, is also a gift. Secret Santas, a very nice card, gift cards and gift baskets are all nice ways to give without killing yourself. Anything handmade is also a win, but only if you already love making things.
19. Don’t want to receive presents? Tell you loved ones early, and give them suggestions for an organization you’d like them to donate to, in case they simply can’t not give you something.
20. Whom do you want to share some holiday time with this year? Contact them and make a plan to get together. If it’s an annual thing, start looking for something fun to do now, and put it on the books as soon as you can. Note: Meeting someone for coffee or tea, or to browse in a bookstore, is enough.
21. Create go-to holiday attire that you can wear to everything. Unless you have a formal event to attend, you can get away with picking one favorite item and building around it. Slacks, jacket, scarf, socks, a hair pin, a set of earrings, a sweater or tights can make your holiday outfit.
22. Leave your indulging for the parties, not at home. Keep your home stocked with fresh, good, easy to prepare foods, and consider making it a no-sugar zone. Don’t skip meals. Make a veggie soup, stew or casserole that you can reheat for lunches and quick suppers.
23. Decide on a high nutrition snack to carry with you. The ideal food will be high in real ingredients, low in sugar and artificial ingredients and quick to consume. My go-to is Larabars. Second is lightly toasted and salted nuts with a handful of fruit-sweetened dried cranberries or raisins. Yours might be a smoothie, base prepared in advance, throw in protein powder, add fresh fruit, and you’re done.
24. In addition to a daily walk, there’s the 7 Minute Workout, which you can find on the Apple App Store, or on Google Play. The more you do it, the easier and better you’ll feel. Plus you’re actually strengthening your muscles. Everybody has 7 minutes.
25. Wear earplugs when you go shopping.
Holidays completely and totally not your thing?
While the rest of the world is spending, visiting, eating and dealing with unwanted gifts, you can use this time to catch up on all the movies you missed during the year, clean out your closets, drawers and cupboards and make donations to community organizations that serve the needy in your community, take a needed vacation, read an entire trilogy by your favorite (or new) author, decide what new cuisine you want to master in the coming year, or get started on that creative project you didn’t get to all year. (Some of us are jealous! Maybe next year!)
26. Deep breath, it’s the holidays.
Probably no one is immune to expectations of having a season of peace and good will, no matter how you’re really feeling. But with a little planning, you can step onto the food, gift-giving and socializing merry-go-round without losing your balance.
Want to get started strategizing the holidays now, so you can stay grounded, connect with what matters, and protect your precious natural resources of time and energy?
Next week: How your business celebrates the holidays (business as usual, but with a bow on top?)
To your vibrant energy!