Surviving the Holidays

snowflakeSo you’re all cuddled up with your gift list, checking off all the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone you love, and you’re thinking about how fabulous it’ll be getting together with the fam and all your groovy, fabulous relatives… Or maybe not.

In actuality, this is a really tough time of year for many people, and the planning we should really be doing is how to get through it with as little damage as possible, keeping what we can of our sanity and our good humor.

So here are a few suggestions for taking of yourself, ‘cause if you don’t do it, who will?!

If you are visiting family or other folks that will be difficult to be around, for whatever reason, there are a few strategies that you can use:

  • Give yourself a set time by which to leave. You can always stay longer if things are going well, but if not, have an appointment or other super-important event that you forgot about until just then, but which you must attend to immediately. Or just say you need to go and do so.
  • Have a friend call you at a particular time to check in. Have a code word, if needed, for her/him to know it’s too much and help you make your escape. Or they can just check in with you to help you make it through the insanity. Or have a friend that you can call.
  • Try to take your own vehicle, so that you can leave without having to persuade others to leave when you need to.
  • Find a compelling reason to be doing something else entirely that day or days that prevent you from attending.
  • Have some of your favorite herbs for relieving stress with you. What I have found is really helpful is to take a water bottle and put 2 or 3 doses of my herbs in the bottle. Than I drink half or a third of the water at a time to get one dose (I am not worried about it being exact). Since I take a number of herbal tinctures this makes it fast, easy, and portable. You can also make herbal teas or infusions and have them ready in one or more water bottles or thermoses.
  • Take time to relax with a lovely bath or even just a foot or hand bath (I wrote about herbal baths here). It can be wonderfully relaxing and rejuvenating. Have mug of your favorite herb tea while you’re soaking and you’ll feel even better!
  • If you have any sort of dietary restrictions or preferences, make sure your host know beforehand. If you’re not sure they’ll have the food available that you need, be sure to bring a few items with you that you can eat if you need to (you don’t have to be obvious about it, but do make sure you can eat what you need to). If you have food allergies this can be particularly important.

Being kind to yourself is ultra-important right now. It is much more important to take time to catch your breath than to get one more gift (I know, easier said than done).

If you don’t get everything done that you want, or even one-tenth, give yourself credit and props for whatever you did accomplish. I share with you my latest motto (for what it is worth): Completion, not perfection.

If you mess up with your family, if you can’t be with loved ones, if you are grieving or alone or whatever else, it is even more important to be kind to yourself. Speak kind words to yourself, make yourself yummy comfort food, watch a favorite movie or show, listen to wonderful music.

Stop beating yourself up for whatever you feel, even if it’s vile or uncomfortable or “I’m not supposed to feel this way”. You feel the way you feel and the feelings will pass. You are allowed the full range of your feelings, and no one has to know what they are except you!

Do find people you truly love being with even if only for a few hours. Buy yourself a gift.

Go outdoors and revel in the beauty of the season, whether snow-covered or bare and brown (and if you’re where it’s warm and green, enjoy that!)

I wish for you at this time of the winter solstice and the holiday season much love and loving connection with others and yourself.