peace on earth & goodwill to men (especially yourself)

The holidays are supposed to be all about family and fun, giving and love… But if we’re being honest, how often do we find ourselves focusing on feelings that are anything but festive and cheery? Between the long lines and crowded parking lots (if you’re willing to brave the actual mall, you’re better than I am), holiday traffic, and a little too much family time – it can be more stressful than cheerful.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes the hustle and bustle gets the best of me. Not to mention that despite living in a warmer climate, thanks to my vitamin D deficiency, seasonal affective disorder is in full swing… And, while my vitamin D levels play a big part in affecting my mood, going to work before the sun is fully risen and leaving after dark certainly isn’t a huge help either. (Your girl is a summer baby, okay?)

If the holiday season has gotten you run a little ragged, let this be your sign.

You know how on airplanes, while the flight attendant is giving the safety speech, and they tell you,

“Before assisting others, put your oxygen mask on first.”

It’s time to put your oxygen mask on, and take care of yourself this holiday season.

That’s a HARD thing to do. I get it, believe me. I’ve shared about how hard it was for me to make the decision to put myself first, and really take care of myself. It’s been four months, and I’m still working hard to remind myself every day that you can’t pour from an empty glass. Makes it a little easier to visualize when you put it that way isn’t it? It was for me, in any case. So I’m asking, is your glass empty?

The biggest thing that has helped me hold myself accountable for filling up my own cup, is that each time I meet with my therapist, she asks me “what are you going to do for yourself in the coming weeks?” It’s so easy to say, “Oh, I do plenty for myself” without ever really taking the time to consider exactly what it is that you’re doing for yourself. I challenge you to ask yourself (at least) once a week – I do my best to ask myself on Monday mornings – “What am I going to do this week to take care of myself?”

Some weeks my answers are a little more ambitious, including making time to exercise 4-5 days a week, doing yoga, eating healthy. Other weeks? The best I can promise is to take a few quiet moments of mediation, and make sure I’m drinking enough water. And that’s okay, that’s enough.

Maybe your goals for the week include things like taking a walk during lunch to enjoy the sunshine, or making time to read the book that’s been sitting on your shelf. Or maybe they’re a little more ambitious, and you plan to clean your house and sleep a full 8 hours each night. It could be to remember that it’s okay to say no, because (if you’re anything like me, as much as you’d like to) you can’t do it all.

Maybe all it will take is to look in the mirror, and remind yourself that you are strong and capable.

This holiday season, I challenge you to remember to put your oxygen mask on first.

Do some yoga, the presents and wrapping paper will still be there when you’re finished. Have an honest conversation with a family member who is being too extra, it’s a better option than lashing out. Add in a few salads and extra glasses of water in between the Christmas sweets, and focus on taking care of yourself not just emotionally, but physically as well. Fill your own Vicki Gunvalson-style love tank.

Luke 2:14 calls for peace on Earth and good will toward men, and that goes for inner peace and good will toward your own well-being as well. In a season full of giving, don’t be afraid to give to yourself, too.