How to Thrive This Holiday Season
Theresa Polley
November 14, 2022
August 16, 2023
Self Care

Wouldn’t you love to do more than “just survive” your holiday season? To be present with your people, share joy and love, celebrate what matters AND enjoy yourself? You can! 

In order to thrive and not just survive my holidays, I know I MUST make time for myself. What allows me to have that much needed time is having clear boundaries (and enforcing them), practicing gratitude, and practicing mindfulness. I don’t  want to be a spectator this holiday season, I want to participate and soak up every ounce of joy.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights. ~ Maya Angelou

Set (And Enforce) Your Boundaries

A lack of boundaries can contribute to holiday stress.. Right now, before the holiday season starts, determine your boundaries and start to enforce them. Easier said than done.

Despite how people may react to you enforcing boundaries, having boundaries doesn't make you  mean or  selfish. Boundaries allow you to be clear and kind by communicating your limits and deal breakers. 

From the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, “Is it a clear yes? If it’s not, it’s a no.” This has been a powerful tool for me over the years, and I’ve come to learn that “maybe” is a no for me. “Let me think about it” is a no. Anything less than “Oh my gosh yes! I’d love to!” is a no.

No will always be a complete sentence. And while I talk about it all the time, it’s still something I struggle with. There are still times where I feel compelled to offer explanations and excuses when I choose to say no. 

Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking I should be “nice” and let people walk all over me and my boundaries. Nice is self sacrificing. Kind is compassionate to all – including, and most importantly, ourselves.

Write a Gratitude List

Challenge yourself to practice gratitude this holiday season. Gratitude is life changing, and it takes just a few minutes. Tomorrow when you drink your coffee or tea, grab a journal and make a list OR just make a list in your head.. 

Start with the easy stuff: one big thing and one small thing you’re grateful for. Next, think of a challenge you’ve survived. Why? First off, you survived it. Second, gratitude is especially helpful when we’re struggling.

Now, allow yourself to reflect on the choices you had to make (good and bad) during that challenge, and allow yourself to find gratitude for them – they got you here didn’t they?

Making gratitude a daily practice, especially in seasons where we’re easily stressed or anxious, allows us to see more good in our life. 

Practice Mindfulness

Looking back, I realize that much of my holiday anxiety wasn’t actually from all the hustle and bustle, but rather it was my mindset. Being present and being mindful are the most powerful tools when struggling with anxiety

If your thoughts are spinning out of control - worry about the upcoming holidays or the memory of  last year’s holiday mishaps,, take a deep breath and allow yourself to be in the present moment. Worrying about what’s in the future or past doesn’t fix anything, it simply robs you of your joy in the present. 

When you feel those anxious thoughts start to spiral, put down your phone and step outside to spend time in nature or immerse yourself in an activity you enjoy – whether that’s going for a walk, practicing yoga, crocheting, reading, or dancing to your favorite tunes. The simple act of putting away your phone can reduce anxiety, but changing your current activity can be a powerful tool to break the cycle of anxiety.

Allow Yourself to Enjoy Your Holiday Season

As you prepare yourself  for your holiday season with these tools, allow yourself to let go and embrace the season. That might mean letting go of time consuming traditions that don’t bring you joy so that you can embrace what does. 

Most importantly, give yourself grace and remember you can’t do it all. You don’t have to! Ask for help, do what you can and let the rest go.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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