by Susan McCarthy
Self-care isn't about treats. It's about doing the things that support your energy and emotions so you can do the things you want to accomplish.
As the end of the year comes into sight, the rush to do things you (or your employer) thought you’d accomplish this year can leave you running ragged. Throw in your expectations for the holidays and you may wonder why humans don’t have the option of hibernating until spring.
Living a less cluttered life isn’t just about getting rid of that bread maker you haven’t used in five years; it’s about finding what’s essential to the life you’re living and releasing the rest.
Busy? That's when Self-Care Matters Most
Doing things that appear to benefit only you may be the first tasks that suffer when you get busy. However, these acts of care can give us the physical and mental energy to do more than collapse in front of the television when we do get a chance to sit down.
Being mindful of your own needs can replenish your willpower so you don’t become snappish or inhale a plate of holiday cookies.
Get Your Sleep
I know, you keep hearing this piece of advice over and over. You already know how you feel when sleep-deprived – it’s harder to make decisions and your willpower vaporizes, leading to poor choices and dealing with the repercussions of those choices.
Feign a headache or say you think you’re coming down with a cold if you don’t want to admit you want to go to bed before you’re dragging.
Keep Your Regular Appointments
Whether you see a mental health professional, get regular massages, attend the same exercise classes each week, or make routine appointments to get your hair or nails done, make a point to keep those things on your schedule because if they help you feel great the rest of the year, they can help with the craziness of the holidays.
Even if you don’t have a regular exercise routine, at least make a point of standing up through the day and walking into another room. And, our attention can last only so long on a task; so, every 45-to-60-minutes get up from your desk and do a physical task for a few minutes
Involve Your Senses
Take a moment to notice visual details, smells, sounds, and physical sensations (the texture of fabric, a breeze) during random moments of the day. A 30-second break can pull you from your spinning thoughts and bring you back into your body. And, you may enjoy the place where you are a little bit more.
Enjoy Things in Moderation
These things can be anything from controlling the holiday cookie consumption (my downfall), to limiting time shopping or attending holiday parties and events. Create a “rule” that works for you – stay at parties for 60-minutes; limit time in the mall or shopping online to ‘x’ minutes.
Give Up Expectations and Comparisons
We don’t live in staged photographs. Don’t expect every day to look like a photograph that only captures a fraction of a second. What is the least you can do so that you can enjoy the holidays without aiming for perfection? If you know you sister always returns whatever you give her as a gift, why waste three hours trying to find her the perfect item?
Choose What You'll Do and What You'll Skip
What events do you or members of your family have to attend? What if that question read, What events do you or members of your family choose to attend? Are the ‘have to’ and ‘choose to’ events the same?
If you have to attend something, can you think of why you’d choose to attend it? And how can you improve the experience for yourself? If you have to attend your boss’s holiday party, thinking that you choose to attend it because you like your boss and want to show her your appreciation (even though you hate crowds) can change your mindset and make you feel control in the situation.
When you fall into bed, instead of running through the list of things that didn’t get accomplished and will land on tomorrow’s to-do list, think of at least one thing you were grateful for. Say it out loud, write it down, or think it in sentence form.
It doesn’t have to be a grand event. You can think, “I’m grateful a new register was opened at the grocery store just as I got into line.”
Don't Spend So Much Time Planning that You Miss What Is
Planning something isn’t the same as experiencing something. Planning your holiday dinner, party, or gift-giving, isn’t enjoying time around the table with family, catching up with friends while nibbling hors d'oeuvres, or watching your granddaughter unwrap her ticket to Disney On Ice.
Don’t get so caught up in planning menus or adding decorative embellishments to wrapped gifts that you can’t enjoy the actual experience.
Be Kind to Yourself
The above suggestions are no-cost gifts that you can offer yourself. Give yourself food that energizes you instead of making you feel sluggish, stay hydrated, get enough sleep, move, say “thank you” or “thank for thinking of me, but not this time” or “this is enough.”
Doing something for yourself isn’t about buying yourself a gift when you’re at the mall. Take a deep breath and consider what you need in this moment.
Take this with you
Identify three small treats that you can gift yourself every day. These should be things that take no more than 5 minutes so they they don't feel burdensome. (Some ideas - watch a funny video, color a picture, burn a scented candle while working on another task, take the time to rub in hand lotion.)
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Hi, I'm Susan
I’m the chief (and only) Organized Squirrel at A Less Cluttered Life. In these articles, I meld my nearly 30 years as a teacher with my new career as a professional organizer to show you how to clear your cluttered home and schedule to create the life you want.