Winter. It brings up memories of shorter, darker days. Reaching into the closet for scarves, cozy sweaters, and those thick house socks to pull over your regular socks. Getting out a bed a little bit later because under the covers, with your partner and all those blankets just feels so damn perfect. It’s that warmth spreading throughout your body as you wrap your hands around a warm mug of tea, soup, or a steaming bowl of your favorite comfort meal.
Or that’s what I’d like it to be most of my winter.
Winter, for myself and most of us, looks something more like this: Struggling to get out of bed in the dark after later nights either with loved ones or working on holiday things. Looking at the extremely filled calendar, from family events, work parties, and gatherings with friends, with a feeling of excitement and a growing feeling of dread. Meals become all sorts of wonky, from the nights out to the crazy busy weekends, meal prep becomes a “nice to have”. The to do lists keep multiplying, from gift lists, cards and packages to send, holiday things to do, and oh yeah, the normal things you’ve already got on there.
When things finally die down, whether on the last week of December or the first week of January, you feel wiped out, bone tired, and like a hot garbage fire. Maybe something in your health flared up, like eczema, a nagging stomach pain, acne, or you got super sick. Again. And you’re mad. You’re mad that you know all the ways to take care of yourself, but you let the holiday season get the better of you.
I’ve been there. So many times.
And we don’t have to be there, feeling that level of exhausted, upset, or wrecked.
We can come into the holidays with clear intentions, boundaries, and more self care than we have in seasons past. And still doing fun things in the season as well. Enter: the Season of Self Care.
What is Season of Self Care?
The Season of Self Care is a new way to approach the holidays. By getting really clear on how we want the holiday season to feel, what really works for us, and adjusting our expectations around this time of year, we can make this season feel a little better and not a repeat of the depleting seasons of holidays past.
By gaining an awareness around how we’ve done it in the past, getting clear on how we want to approach the holidays this year, and continuing to stay aware while we’re in it, we can shift from feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or resentful to content, calm, and in the present moment.
This looks like so many things, from more intangible things like mindset work and goal setting, to more tangible strategies like how to deal with travel, holiday parties, and simple weeknight meals and holiday dishes to eat in a way that you feel good.
The Season of Self Care is also a reminder that, even with social and maybe even family obligations, how you spend the last months of the year is up to you. You get to choose how you spend your time, how you show your love, how you celebrate, how you give gifts, how you eat, how you cook for others and prep. Just because “it’s always been done this way” has been the default doesn’t mean you have to do it, especially if you don’t connect with it anymore.
You’re also allowed to take care of yourself, in whatever way works best for you. That look like turning down some plans because you need to rest, or leaving early because you need some downtime or sleep. That could be giving yourself permission to adjust your expectations for this time of year, to do a little bit less than your usual high standard. That could be taking a pause to ask yourself if you really need to go that big with the thing you’re buying, gathering you’re hosting, or idea you have.
It’s about remembering this a unique time of year, and the rules of the game are different. Holding yourself to the same standards that you hold yourself to the other 8 months of the year doesn’t quite match up. Things are different, and it’s okay to adjust. Adjusting does not mean failure.
Photo by Taylor Gage
Where do we start with the Season of Self Care?
It starts with awareness and reflection. If you’re not aware of what the past has been like, it can be hard to know what to change in the future. It’s also helpful to know what’s going on for you right now, too. Set some time aside and think on, or write out the answers to these questions in a journal or notebook. If you don’t have one, or want to keep these all in one place, click here to get printable version.
What was last year’s holiday season like?
What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it?
What did it feel like?
How are you feeling right now?
What are you working through right now, if anything? (health things, emotional things, other life events)
What is coming up this holiday season (events, trips, etc)?
What are non-negotiable things this holiday season (confirmed/annual commitments, traditions, events, etc)
What do you have control over?
How do you want to feel this season?
Some of your answers may take a little longer to come up, and you may have more thought later, especially on future stuff. You can definitely come back and write more notes later. This can be a living breathing document.
Take whatever things that jump out to you and use as many or as little as you like.
If there’s something you want me cover specifically, leave a comment here or in the Facebook group! As the Season unfolds, if you want to share what you’re doing or any wins you’re having during the season, tag me on Instagram at @small_eats and use the hashtag #seasonofselfcare.