Monday, December 4, 2017

Self care for a CALM CHRISTMAS

So far in this Calm Christmas series, we have talked about being flexible, seeking God as your refuge rather than false escapes that let you down with delayed consequences, and heart care (creating a restful spot to go to God each morning and give Him your heart)... Today, I would like to turn it inward a bit and talk about some practical ways we can give ourselves care so that our approach with others, no matter how they are behaving, can be calm.  I always think of this topic as putting the oxygen mask on yourself first, so you can help those around you.

There aren't many other holiday seasons in life where there are as many constant demands on us, day and night, like there are at Christmastime. We are bombarded with so much even before Thanksgiving happens, that we often let self care slide a bit.  Those are things we typically carve out time to do such as taking time to care for our physical bodies. This could include taking time to work out, eat right, care for our hair, nightly flossing, nail care, waxing, shaving our legs and even wearing old, ugly pajamas with holes in them.  It's personal and could obviously include many other things but you get the idea.  It's so easy to get out of our routines or worse yet, skip things that we need more or extra of, during the winter months, because we're so busy and exhausted.  (For example, I know that my skin is particularly dry this month and one way I stop and pamper myself for just a few minutes each week, is a daily in-shower lotion application immediately after the shower water stops.   I've found it to be a time saver and I need more multi tasking products like that in my life.  Taking time to properly remove the dirt and grime from our teeth and skin each night can be easily skipped after a late night, but it's so good for us to value our bodies enough that we carve out a few moments for extra, good care.  I like to purchase one skin treat for myself with all of the holiday specials, such as a new eye cream or something along those lines and it helps motivate me to be diligent. I also coat my eyelashes with Vaseline each night because of the extra make up I can wear for parties and such.  Just a tiny pampering action.)

This one seems really obvious, but diet can suffer big time during the holidays (as most of us know.)  It's so easy to eat the wrong things or too much of them.  Or inhale something quick, standing at the counter before having to dash out to the next event.  I'm making it a priority to plan ahead as much as I can, prep snacks and meals we can make easily and hydrate like crazy.  I love to pull out our water bottles and give them all a good sanitizing scrub and then make myself use them non-stop.  I never even run errands with out my water!  I heard a trick the other day that I've yet to try but it sounds promising.  You put eight rubber bands on your water bottle in the am, and take one off each time you empty the contents and refill. It's always going to come down to "being intentional" but during the holidays that can feel like such a burden with everything else we are being intentional about...It's easy to feel like we have to let some things slide for survival sake.  During the weeks of my dad's hospice care and planning the memorial service I was getting sick and took extremely good care of myself food/hydration-wise.  Afterward, I was so glad I had made that a priority.  I tried to think of it as a treat for myself.  We all have to eat anyway, but you can choose something quick and healthy or something quick and unhealthy.  There are options for everything so it's simply a choice we make and does not have to feel burdensome unless we develop the mindset that it is.  Does that make sense?

Of course, self care goes beyond diet and simply finding time for a fresh manicure or nightly skin care... it can also reach into removing stressors off our plates that we don't even pay attention to.  One that immediately comes to mind is the inbox.  Often with purchases and life, we end up on many email lists.  I like to spend time occasionally backtracking though my trash and unsubscribing from everything! It is the most freeing feeling.  Normally I get in the habit of simply deleting things but actually unsubscribing is followed by the most enjoyable inbox quiet and calm. It honestly doesn't take that long.  In fact, most of the things I am suggesting doing for yourself don't take very long but the benefits are long-lasting.

I also think mental health can be calmed by sitting down with a latte and having a planning meeting with oneself.  I do this regularly and it doesn't have to take hours.  I get all of the calendars together, make certain they are each updated exactly the same and plan additional items that need to be penciled in.  I love to cancel a few of the things that aren't actually urgent or important at this time as well.  It invokes a calm in my calendar and can be done in minutes.  (I also don't make a list of things that I'll probably do anyway, like find a night to play a game, or "sip cocoa" with my family.  Now, I have nothing against the fun, moms that are being creative in this department... I simply know that whenever I tried to list more onto my plate, I end the month much crankier. That's just me.  Just something to think about if you're feeling pressure to make a fun, big list of activities for your people.  The activities can still happen... you just don't have to plan them out and adhere to a possibly guilt-inducing list.)

I've promoted this for years in many blog posts so many of you are probably rolling your eyes, but... creating a calm bedroom is so huge which is why I am sharing photos of our festive master bedroom in this post. I always treat myself to a brief cleaning spree, (again, this can take half hour tops so don't feel overwhelmed) where I dust with a nice smelling cleaner like Mrs. Meyer's orange clove and toss out clutter. (We don't tend to keep much clutter in our bedroom, so this doesn't take me long because of that life habit. I realize that isn't everyone's story but don't beat yourself up if you have two hours (or more) of work to do in your bedroom in order to create calm.  Simply pull yourself up by your bootstraps, grab a trash bag and get er done.  You'll be glad you did and if it's the only clutter free space in your home during December at least you've got an oasis to enjoy now, you know?)  I like to quickly tidy drawers and closets, (okay this one can take a while so just close the doors if it will be a long project and you don't have time.) freshen linens, clear under bed areas and bedside drawers, restock depleted or tatty looking towels in the master bath and add some fresh and seasonal elements for that bit of romantic sparkle.  I think candles that smell lovely and twinkle lights are never out of place in a master bedroom.  I've pulled cozy throws and quilts into our master, and moved art work around for a fresh feel.  It can feel like the calmest of havens or the most stressful storage space in your home, depending on how you treat it but it's where you spend almost half your life and half your holiday time, attempting to refresh and restore so it's probably worth a small time investment, yes?
Self care can often be found in preparedness.  My very favorite, practical way to prepare for a calm Christmas is the gift wrap preparing.  Firstly, I wrap each gift as I go.  I wrap them as they arrive or as I purchase them.  That way I keep calm because I know I haven't got a mountain of gifts waiting to be dealt with at some point.  Don't procrastinate on this.  If that's not your style, one fun way to get them done is to have a wrapping party with girlfriends where you all watch a holiday movie and wrap your presents together.  I did this one year and it was a blast.  It also helps to to gather all of your wrapping supplies and gift toppings together in one easy to grab tote. I get mine ready each November as I like to have all of my shopping done before December hits. (To me, that is self-care!)  I find my heart calming as I'm not always frantically hunting for the scissors or tape.

Finally.  Saying no, being honest, voicing concerns and being practical with others about what will or wont work can be the biggest form of self care there is. It's hard to have a voice when you know your voice with disappoint another.  After reading the comments on Instagram the other day when I asked what stressed people out, this was the common theme- Some were stressing about gatherings that were hard for littles, some were trying to balance obligations and events they didn't want to attend, finances they lacked, some were stressing because they were being asked to donate and give and some simply put too much important on their own expectations of what they were able to give and do.  In all of these, there is (yes really) an opportunity to evaluate and bow out. (If you haven't checked out "The Best Yes" by Lysa TerKeurst you might want to grab it from the library now.) If it's not going to work, voice it.  If it's too expensive and you simply need to stop doing a gift exchange, voice it.  If an event wont work for your kids, suggest an alternative.  If you don't want to go but it's expected, be honest and say that you're really in need of some down time so you can be your best for your immediate family.  I've done all of the above and I am an absolute people pleaser to the you CAN learn to say no and just let some of that stuff go while you stick to your guns and make people mad.  If they truly love you they will get used to your newfound backbone or boundaries over time. Have a sweet heart, be polite, gracious and respectful but be honest and stand up for yourself and your family.  You won't regret that in the long run.

How do you best care for your self in this season?  Feel welcome to add your voice to comments in this precious community so others can benefit from your wisdom and encouragement for a
C A L M   C H R I S T M A S. 

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33


  1. Great post...I need to work on a little something extra in the self care department. Thanks for the inspiration. Have a blessed day!

  2. I enjoy all your posts!! what size is your letter board?