It’s the most wonderful time of the year or so advertised. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tinsel and snow, the carolers and Evergreens, the hot chocolate and reading by the fire. I subscribe to the whole lot of it.
But it wasn’t until I had moved to LA and away from my family that holidays also took on a more practical side. How much time can I take off of work? When are the best (and cheapest) flights? How can I get my presents home to them? The logistics got more complicated and my anxiety reared its ugly head. Beyond the technical plans, going from living only with Scout to “living” back at home to spending time with people constantly, I now had other obstacles to consider.
I love my family and I’m so grateful to spend time with them. But for the time span that is “the holidays”, it’s a huge adjustment time. Sound familiar? We have traditions with our families now how about some new traditions on our own?
Let’s start some new traditions together.
Self-care, patience, and boundaries.
Once the holiday seasons starts making itself known in every department store, the anxiety can creep in. Logistics, presents, the extra money being spent, being out of routine. As joyous as a time it is, it’s okay to acknowledge that as an adult, it’s also a little stressful.
So what is this new tradition you ask? Stated above, it consists of three categories. Self-care, patience, and boundaries.
Drink enough water – if you need a warm beverage, switch to tea!
Stay organized – Put your flight times in your calendar, share your itinerary with the people you’re traveling with or going to see, make a packing list that includes gifts you may have purchased where you live to bring with you, stop your mail if you’re going to be out of town for an extended period of time. There’s no reason to get completely derailed from staying organized with today’s technology.
Pamper – Do a facemask or get a festive manicure. If you need some me time, use it as an excuse. If you want a fun activity to do with your mom or sister, sneak in some self-care during your quality time.
Journal – In a notebook, on your phone, whatever you want to do. But check in with yourself while you’re immersed in an environment you aren’t necessarily used to. Your mental health is important for you to enjoy the holidays, it’s that simple.
With Others – This one is easy. Remember that the people you’re going to see love you and if they are asking a lot of questions or seem to be overdoing it, it’s coming from love. Accept the love. That’s right…bring it in. And with your coworkers, remember that they are also burned out from the year. The woman in the way in Target is probably just as frazzled as you. The holiday seasons are about a lot of things but kindness is one of the ones on top.
With Yourself – Don’t beat yourself up if all the social engagements, to-do lists, crowds, extra money spending, and what’s supposed to be “jolly” music annoys you or causes you anxiety. It’s a crazy time. The reason in LA that I know it’s getting close to the holidays is because the baking aisle becomes like the hunger games. Just remember to take a couple of deep breaths. Remove yourself from the situation temporarily or if you need to, try again a different day. It’s supposed to be merry and bright not dreadful and awful.
This is an important one. One that has been particularly hard for me to learn.
The Holiday Christmas Party – If a colleague says or does something that crosses a boundary, the spiked egg nog isn’t an excuse.
The Extended Family – So, you seeing anybody? Do you have kids yet? These fun questions aren’t just for the movies. They actually pop up at real-life family gatherings! If you’re the extended family in this scenario, please hear me. In the event that someone is expecting a child or has a new relationship to announce, they will. If they don’t, just assume they don’t. Instead, just say “how is everything going? “what have you been up to?” If you’re on the receiving end of this question, just respond with a short answer with a deterring ending. Such as “Not currently. So how is so and so doing?” or “Have you tried the deserts yet? Have a favorite?”. If they really push, just say “you know, you’ll be the first to know if that changes” and change the subject. Go with grace.
Space – If you need some space, ask for it. Tell your mom, “I think I’m just a little overstimulated, I’m going to go read for a bit.” Ask for what you need.
The holidays can so easily become about what you can do for others. As a beautiful of a thing as that is, it’s GOOD to remember yourself in all of this. You don’t have to sacrifice every last minute of your holiday break or vacation. You don’t have to go to every party or buy a gift for every white elephant. Just because you run in the same group of friends doesn’t mean you need to give them a present. The holidays come down to three kinds of currency: your cold hard cash, your time, and your sanity. Spend each of them wisely and for this year’s new tradition, keep some of each for yourself.
Cheers to New Traditions,
Don’t miss out on all the holiday concent appearing on Scout and Bex!