The holidays can be a confusing time of year. Often the feelings we long for and expect, don’t match our reality.
We want to feel meaning, but instead feel like a pawn in the game of commercialism. We want to feel peace, but then find ourselves lost in the frantic chaos of December. We want to feel joy, but then find that our troubles don’t really all melt away with the season.
And then we silently shame ourselves for not feeling all the joy all the time.
I’ve experienced this so many times, I’d eagerly anticipate the joy of the holiday season, only to then feel completely run down by it.
This season, I’m cutting myself a break. A break from all of my expectations. A break from worshipping the fantasy instead of staying present with my reality. A break from pushing myself to go along with all of the chaos.
This season let’s all give ourselves the gift of self-compassion. Compassion for when we can’t do ALL the things and maintain our sanity. Compassion for when the harder parts of life are still present with us, even during what’s supposed to be the most joyous time of year. Compassion for when our feelings don’t exactly match our expectations.
If you’re struggling with the chaos and expectations of the season, here are some tips to help you get through…
Know Your Limits
I married an extroverted, highly social, can’t sit at home for more than a couple of hours kinda guy. I love him to pieces and somehow we work, but man did he used to wear me out! We’d jump from one social outing to the next and he’d thrive while I was barely surviving. This became magnified during the holidays.
I’ve learned the hard way that if I want to enjoy the holiday season, I need to respect my limits. I can’t just push and push to keep up with those around me. As a highly sensitive introvert, my energy levels deplete easily. It’s up to me to protect them. So for the holidays that means turning down party invitations, limiting how many people we travel to see, and making space for as much time at home as I can.
I need to show compassion to my true self, the one who finds the most joy celebrating at home quietly wth her family. Compassion for my easily-frayed self, who wants to keep up with all holiday chaos, but cannot.
Self-compassion isn’t trying to keep up with or be like everyone around you and then breaking down. It’s knowing your limits, asking for those around you to respect them, and making compromises you can live with.
Let Go of Expectations
Let go of how you think you “should” feel throughout the holidays. It’s a joyous time but it’s also taxing and exhausting and can bring up feelings of loss, disappointment and loneliness. Instead of fighting those feelings just sit with them and show them some compassion.
Perhaps life doesn’t look exactly as you hoped it would at this point. Perhaps relationships leave you feeling frustrated and disappointed. Perhaps you’ve suffered a loss or setback that you’re carrying with you into the season.
I know so many people struggling with heartbreaking life challenges right now that no amount of carols or shiny lights can erase. And so for many of us there will be moments of joy and moments of sadness, each aching for us to honor them.
We all have our own struggles despite what people’s instagram feeds portray. If you’re feeling sad or just off this holiday season, know that you’re not alone and compassionately love yourself through your struggle.
Ask Yourself This Question ~ Over & Over Again
For those of us who get overwhelmed easily, there’s an important question you must ask yourself constantly – How can I make this easier?
As we approach the holidays, I have been asking myself this question daily.
How can I make all the holiday shopping I need to do feel easier? How can I make decorating our home feel easier? How can I make seeing all our family members feel easier? What would each of these scenarios look like if they were easy instead of stressful and taxing?
So many of us have a tendency to make things as complicated as possible, especially if we’re inclined to people please. Protect yourself, look at everything you need to make happen during the holidays and ask yourself – what would this look like if it were easy?
Create a Guiding Intention
My guiding intention this holiday season is simplicity. In simplicity, I find the most magic.
My husband and I recently spent an entire weekend massively decluttering our NY apartment. We took multiple trips to goodwill and got rid of all old toys and kids clothes. My sports loving husband even held a “stuffed animal draft” – each “team captain” was allowed to keep 10 stuffed animals – the rest all went to children in need (our kids had A LOT of stuff animals).
Any toy that remained after our decluttering mania was put away in a closet. No more toys lying all over the house. Even their playroom is now practically empty. Our apartment has never felt so light and free. In getting rid of all the “fun” stuff, we created space for so much more presence and joy.
I am carrying this sentiment into the holidays. By simplifying our home, decorating for the holidays was easy. By getting rid of all the toy clutter, we see just how few presents we need to buy to make our girls light up. By reducing all the messes I have to chase, we can find joy in the most simple of holiday activities ~ like writing a letter to Santa with every word in a different color, as instructed by my five year old.
Create a guiding intention and see how you can use it to honor your needs and wishes for the holiday season.
The Gift of Self-Compassion
Give yourself the gift of self-compassion this season. You don’t need to do it all. You don’t need to feel any way other than what you feel. You don’t need to keep up, overextend or please everyone. You may need to make some compromises of course, but keep your needs and limits at the forefront.
Watching my girls decorate our tree was all the joy I needed to get from this holiday season. Anything above that will be welcome, but I’m not going to put expectations on our time. I’m going to strive for simplicity, feel what I feel, and do what I can to make the holidays feel a little bit easier than they have in the past. Hopefully these tips will help you do the same.
Holiday Survival Guide: To help you keep things as intentional and stress free as possible, I created a free holiday survival guide for you. You can download it by clicking here. And if you’re still tackling holiday shopping, check out my Top 10 Self-Care Essentials Holiday Gift Guide.
Wishing you a holiday season filled with self-compassion.
Holiday Survival Guide
Download this free guide to help you get through the holiday season with less stress and more presence.