Why You Can’t Do It All: Holiday Stress & Self-Care
The holiday season is a lot. It is a lot of things to do, people to see and please, money spent, and strain on our time, energy, wellness, and internal peace. It is a lot crammed into just a few short weeks.
Whether we want to or not, many of us think we can do it all. And while that may be true when it comes to completing tasks, it can’t be true as a whole. Why? Because you can’t do all the things without causing yourself stress or letting go of self-care.
Your mental health is important, especially during the holidays. That is why at CW Psychological Services in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania we are highlighting a few ways you can take care of yourself during the holidays and beyond.
Make Space (for self-care)
The holidays are such a tricky time, especially for those struggling. It can be a beautiful time of year with special moments made with children, friends, and family but it can also feel like a cruel joke. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, the holidays have a way of bringing out all the feelings. The stress of trying to do cards, cookies, gifts, etc. while also sticking to the day-to-day can feel overwhelming. Where is all the time? If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, struggling with a relationship, or with finances, the holidays may feel like something to skip over altogether.
While hiding in your closet until January may seem like a solid plan, it is not the most feasible. So, what can you do instead of avoiding the holidays? You can make space. What does that look like? It is time carved out of your days for you to tend to you.
Space might look like staying in for the night to take a bath, call a friend, watch a movie, or sob into the couch cushions. Space might look like skipping the holiday party to meet a friend for coffee. It might look like going for a walk or going to bed early instead of hitting the mall. Making space looks different for everyone. The important thing is it is time for you to follow your heart and just be.
Say “No” (to things that cause stress)
Why is saying “no” so hard for some of us? We want to do it all and be all the things for everyone but at what cost? Our sanity. You may be thinking, “I can’t say ‘no.’” You might be the one who always hosts the holiday party or brings the spread of cookies. You might think everyone is expecting your spectacular holiday card. But, if the thought of doing any of these things makes your skin crawl then it is time to evaluate what you can let go of.
If you don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen this year, skip the cookie baking or minimize what you do. If you don’t want to host, pass it to someone else or offer a neutral location. Set boundaries with friends and family in these areas. You need to take care of yourself and if that means making a few people upset, that is ok.
Prioritize (what means most)
When you think about the holiday season what makes you excited? What do you look forward to the most? What is it all about? That is what you should put your energy into. Instead of trying to do it all, focus on a few of the most important things. Not only will this make things more manageable but it will also make those things even more special.
Sit down and make a list of all the things you feel you need to do during the next couple of weeks. Then, rank them by importance. Let go of the things at the bottom of the list. They aren’t worth your stress or your time if they rank low in importance. Focus on what time and energy you have to give to the top item or two.
For example, your family holiday party is of top importance to you but standing in line at the mall to get a photo with Santa ranks low. Let Santa go (sorry, buddy) and spend a little time each day planning the party. Decorating your house might be something you enjoy, so go ahead and do that, but cooking might not be so let that go.
Let Go Of the Fantasy (and expectations)
The holidays are full of expectations, dreams, and fantasies about how they are supposed to look and feel. Let all of that go. This time of the year can look and be however you want it to. It doesn’t have to fit a specific mold. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You are in charge of your time and your space. Set boundaries and reach out for help when you need it.
If you are struggling with your mental health, overflowing to-do list, grief, anxiety, depression, or something you can’t quite put a name on, you may find the help of a counselor or therapist beneficial. He/she/they can give you a new perspective, tools for coping, and be a cheerleader in your corner.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained. We have openings for online or telehealth therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call (610) 308-7575. We want to help.