Don’t be a “Holiday Magic Martyr”

managing-holiday-stressPSA! A friend recently sent me this HuffingtonPost article, to remind me to guard my self-care & mental health at this time of year. (Friend, you know who you are. Thank you!)

Melody Wilding, a licensed social worker and professional coach who focuses on helping clients let go of something she calls “emotional labor,” sees the tendency to put too much on our plates and let self-care slip during the holidays.

“Putting pressure on yourself to have or create the ‘perfect holiday’ can send your stress skyrocketing, and overcommitment can quickly lead to exhaustion and burnout,” she told HuffPost.

What my friend who sent me the article doesn’t know is that over the past year I’ve become quite good at this.

In addition to my personal yoga practice, which keeps me sane and healthy, this past weekend I went to New York City with two of my close female friends for the express purpose of celebrating all that is good in my life. (Ladies: my cup truly runneth over. I love you!) We ate amazing meals, had deep conversations, saw some incredible jazz, did yoga, ate brunch at a swanky new place and just had an all-around great time.

The trip was inspired by Tonya Leigh Rising, founder of the French Kiss Life movement, someone I’ve been following via her blog and social media for years. (Check out her podcasts – life-changing stuff). She specializes in helping high-achieving women “embrace the fun and fancy.” I booked what she calls “The Dinner Society” with her way back in August, part of her “French Kiss Life World Tour” where she has literally traveled the world hosting dinner parties in undisclosed locations in many major cities (she’s met with women in Paris, London, L.A., Dallas – you name it!). When she announced she was coming to NYC in December, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet her and partake. Here I am with Tonya, having as wildly fun a time as you’d imagine, getting into a limo right in front of the Plaza Hotel.

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(I know, right?)

So the weekend included both Tonya’s French Kiss Life Tour, and a deeper connection with my two sister-friends from home who loved the idea of a weekend in NYC that was “just for us.” How lucky am I? It was an experience I’d been craving, and one I won’t forget. I am incredibly grateful to all the women involved.

But roll the tape back to last holiday season. I was in a far different place! Last year, someone close to me told me that she wasn’t participating in one of our regular holiday traditions because “Christmas is for the children.” If I’m honest with myself, those words hurt a little. Her words made me feel silly, childish, selfish even, for my expectations around Christmas. I wanted some holiday cheer for myself too, damnit! Was that a crime?

Here’s the Conclusion I Came To

Sure, a lot of what we do at this time of year is intended to create magic and memories for the children. But I remain adamant that as adults, especially as women, we should resist becoming “Holiday Magic Martyrs.” Moms, don’t leave ourselves out of the equation!

This is an important time of year for me personally to hit the “reset” button. Who do I want to be in 2018? How can I celebrate what I’ve accomplished in 2017? Part of this I think is because of the extremely short days and “hibernation” I need to do in the cold months, which prompts reflection. Another piece I think is that my birthday also comes this time of year, so it’s a time of intense self-scrutiny. This can go horribly wrong, trust me!

This year I’ve been a bit extravagant in creating what I want the holidays to look like … some might even say “selfish” … (see the photo above). But I wanted to encourage each of you to do what you need to do to make the holidays fun, enjoyable & meaningful for YOU.

I’m not necessarily talking material things (although I’m not against giving yourself a material gift; sometimes saying “you’re worth it” is exactly what we need). I’m talking more about rest, peace, beautiful meals, downtime, rituals, and creativity. Simple things like a short at-home restorative yoga practice, meditation, lighting a candle or even putting on some mascara.

I’m a Mom. I’m also a woman with hopes, dreams, desires & aspirations. And, “if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

So create the beautiful life you know you want and deserve this holiday season! You don’t need to go to New York or anywhere really to find beauty in the every day. Here’s a list of things that give me holiday joy:

  • Going to bed early, right after I turn out the Christmas tree
  • Burning my pine-scented candle
  • Brewing a cup of holiday Chai tea
  • Getting a bright red mani / pedi
  • Taking a deep inhale when I pass the cut Christmas trees outside my local grocery store
  • Snuggling with my husband
  • Wearing a dress to every holiday party (I buy many of them second-hand!)
  • Spreading holiday cheer to my clients and staff
  • Changing my holiday to-do list from “have to’s” to “want to’s”
  • Instead of experiencing “holiday letdown,” celebrating the sacred space I get to have the week after Christmas with my family

What will you do this season to ensure you get what you need?