Radical Self-Care for the Holidays

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service. To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.  To yourself, respect.”   Oren Arnold

I was asked to facilitate a women’s retreat in Idaho at the beginning of November. Our 3-day retreat was held at a beautiful camp right on the water, and when a few snowflakes started to fall it felt like the perfect setting to be speaking about the holidays. The theme of our retreat was about rest, rejuvenation and relaxation in the holiday season. Seems like a contradiction in terms doesn’t it? Rest and rejuvenation at one of the busiest times of year? It can be done, and here are a few ideas that we talked about during our retreat.

Winter is our natural time to be quiet, go inside, be still and reflect on the year, plant some new seeds for next year – and yet we are pulled to go shopping, be with people, and deal with alot of obligations. So what to do?

The first step is practicing radical self-care:

Start each day asking yourself the question: If I were really true to myself and taking great care of myself, today I would __________.

(or in this situation I would____________).

Check in with your heart about each request that comes in (for example going to a party, being part of the bake sale, making dinner for all 20 relatives!!!).  Does your heart say “Yes!” with excitement, or does it say “Hell No!”

Make a list of 5-10 things that really are a “NO!” for you this holiday season and then what are the things that are a “YES!” Review this list everyday so you can be clear on what you want these holidays to be about for you.

If it’s a “No” are you willing to honor yourself and possibly have some discomfort telling the person your truth? One of my favorite authors Brene Brown asks the question, “Are you willing to choose discomfort over resentment?” I am looking at how a moment of discomfort (saying no) far outweighs the resentment (in doing something I don’t want to do). It’s not always easy, but I am learning how to take care of myself by saying no to what doesn’t serve me.

Take some time looking at all of the unexpressed (and sometimes unconscious) expectations you have of the holidays, or being with family or friends, and make a list of a few things that you might do differently this year.  One woman reframed the whole experience of writing Christmas cards by going to a hotel in town, sitting in the beautifully decorated lobby, and listening to Christmas carols while she wrote her cards. The whole experience set her up for a lovely holiday experience.

The big one, though, is letting go of being perfect: making the perfect turkey, buying the perfect gift, setting the perfect table, being the perfect hostess, having the perfect house, etc. etc. etc…. Perfect, perfect, perfect! Enough! No wonder we get stressed at the holidays – our inner critics get to run wild in our minds. How about if the perfect gift you give to yourself is the gift of not having to be perfect? To be just who you are and show up at parties, or buy gifts, or cook from that place of love for yourself and of being enough!

On a new Holiday CD that I was a part of, Sloan Wainwright and I wrote a song with this idea. The chorus says: “ The gift that I receive is I have everything I need. The gift that I receive is I have everything.”

So this holiday season let’s all know that WE are the gift and make this a safe, happy and relaxed season! Happy Holidays to you!


Comment from Carol Browning
Posted: February 13, 2014 at 11:05 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed your tips for the holidays, a time so many of us take on too much instead of really enjoying this special time of year.

Write a comment