• Mandy Meyer

Giving Back to Yourself as well as to Others during the Holiday Seasons

During the holidays, most of us are busy hustling and bustling about to try to find the perfect gifts for our loved ones, tending to the needs of others, and attempting to partake in as many holiday festivities as possible before the season passes. The holidays are only with us for a short time and we want to relish in their joy as much as we can, right? While it feels wonderful to give to others and to get swept up in all of the festivities the holiday season has to offer, it is important to remember to take care of ourselves. When you neglect to take care of yourself you are setting the scene for various health ailments, including fatigue and depression. The last thing you want is a series of body ailments or a health dilemma tarnishing your holidays, so lean back, get comfortable, kick your feet up on your office chair with footrest, and read on to learn how to take care of yourself this holiday season.

Check your posture. Proper posture is something we tend to keep in mind when hacking away at our keyboards, but not so much when it comes to holiday tasks, such as wrapping presents. Be this as it may, hunching over again and again to wrap Christmas gifts can be torture on your back, neck, and shoulders. To maintain healthy spine posture, consider doing your gift wrapping while sitting at a table or desk. If you really want to kick your proper posture up a notch, think about adding a foot rest under desk or table while preparing your gifts. A desk foot rest not only allows you to maintain proper posture, but it also keeps your feet and lower limbs in a proper position that improves circulation and is downright more comfortable!

Do a wellness check. With the busyness of the season, it’s easy to get swept up in holiday madness. You are so focused on making sure you have everything done and that you attend everything you can during the holidays that forgetting to check in with yourself is not only possible, but probable. Take a step back from all things festive and think about yourself and only yourself for a minute. How are you feeling? Are there any new aches and pains that you notice, ones that you have probably been ignoring with everything else that’s been going on during this busy time of year? Is the stress of the holidays weighing you down and fueling you with anxiety and depression that goes beyond the typical “holiday blues?” If you answered yes to any of that, consider reaching out to your doctor. Obviously the idea of squeezing in a doctor’s appointment now while trying to tackle a myriad of holiday to do’s may sound preposterous, but remember:  the holidays are only here for a short time but your body is yours for life. Take care of you first, otherwise you won’t have the energy or ability to enjoy all that the holidays have to offer.

Don’t go into debt trying to buy holiday gifts. When it comes to gift giving, many of us fall into a nasty habit of overspending. If you are anything like me, you’ll scoff at the idea of paying thirty dollars on a sweater for yourself, but have no problem shelling it out to buy that same sweater as a gift for someone else. Many of us go above and beyond with gift giving because we love giving to others, and while that may be a great, noble concept, doing so to the point where you can’t afford to pay your bills or buy simple necessities or are racking up a significant amount of credit card or loan debt can hurt you significantly. Not only will spending excessively during the holidays hurt your bank account, but the stress that comes with worrying about money can be detrimental to your health. You don’t necessarily have to clench your purse strings tightly, but don’t break the bank trying to give to others. We all want to give our loved ones the world, but if that’s not within your budget then don’t beat yourself up about it or try to do it anyway and end up hurting yourself in the long run. It’s also not a bad idea to consider giving homemade gifts. The cost of supplies is usually far less costly than a store bought gift, and the recipients will love the personal touch of having something you personally created.

Pay attention to your diet. The idea of eating healthily during the holidays is almost an oxymoron. It’s hard not to indulge in all of the yummy holiday goodies, and you absolutely should enjoy some of the festive treats, but do so in moderation. Eating an abundance of sugary foods not only can pack on the pounds, but it can also leave you feeling drained and sluggish. It’s totally fine to have some of grandma’s fudge, to snag a few pieces of holiday candy, and to have some baked goods at holiday parties, just don’t overdo it. Also, be weary of stress eating. Being mindful of what you consume during the holidays is a task all in itself, but with the holiday hustle and bustle can come stress and with stress can come stress eating. Just be weary of what you are putting into your body and if you feel your eating habits are getting out of control then separate yourself from the goodies and try focusing on something else.

Don’t forget to exercise. Just as it’s important to be mindful of your diet during the holidays, it is also important to keep up with your regular exercise routine. The holidays are busy, I know, but you can’t allow everything else to fall by the wayside just to keep up with all of the celebrations. If you have to miss a few trips to the gym here and there, that’s no big deal. But if you were exercising three days a week then suddenly haven’t worked out in a month then that is a problem. Regular exercise keeps you healthy and releases endorphins, which boost your mood. Failing to keep up with your exercise regimen can cause fatigue, weight gain, and depression. Skip a few workouts if you must, but get back on track and don’t neglect to exercise altogether or you will regret it in the long run.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. While we aspire to make the most of the holidays for the short time they are here, committing to an abundance of holiday festivities can be exhausting. Between family get-togethers, office parties, going caroling, adding festive décor to your home and office, ugly Christmas sweater parties, cooking holiday meals for everyone, hosting holiday events, baking holiday goodies, attending religious ceremonies, attending Christmas plays and pageants, shopping for gifts, wrapping gifts, and whatever else may arise on top of your already lengthy to do list, the urge to do it all is overwhelming. You don’t want to miss out on anything, but you also don’t want to get burned out, either. Pick and choose your holiday events wisely, and don’t be afraid to turn down invites if you have prior engagements or simply don’t have the time to make it. You can’t please everyone and you can’t do everything, so choose the events you truly enjoy and consider skipping the others. You can’t give all of your time to everybody else at the cost of losing yourself or causing yourself pain. Your friends and family will understand if you can’t attend something, just be honest with them and be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do.

Taking care of ourselves oftentimes falls on the back burner during our regular day to day routines, but we especially neglect to tend to ourselves during the holiday season. Contrary to popular belief, you actually can survive the holidays, have meaningful interactions with your loved ones, and take care of yourself at the same time. If you need to leave the house without brushing your hair so you can get that early morning deal on a great gift, that’s fine. If you haven’t been able to brush your hair for a week because you’re so stressed out by the magnitude of things to do to keep up with the holidays, then that is not okay. Our physical needs are more obvious because you can see if you’ve put on some weight or smell that you need to take a shower, but we must also be in tune with our mental health, especially during the holidays. Don’t be afraid of not making every event or letting others down at your own expense. The holidays bring up a lot of joy for many people, but they also can create turmoil. Be cognizant of both your physical and mental health and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.


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