Start Where You Are, Use What You Have
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. This is a subject I often struggle with as a healthcare provider. The holiday season can increase feelings of pressure or stress. Getting the right gifts, making sure everyone is happy, comfortable, taken care of. Often times during this season natural givers are full of joy, and full of fear. The joy of being able to give gifts freely, have friends over for dinner, seeing the reaction to a meaningful heartfelt letter. Combined with the fears: Will it be right? Will it be perfect? Will it be enough? Can I fix it for them? How do I make them feel better?
Because of this people get worn out over the holidays, they loose sight of what is important especially the idea of why presents are given in the first place: community, thoughtfulness, love, gratitude and appreciation. Instead of feeling loved and appreciated we feel pressure to do everything right, spend beyond our means, control others emotions. Which leads to frustration, anger, and feelings of loneliness. This holiday season start where you ARE! Take an honest assessment of how you are doing while considering the fact that you cannot contribute to others if you do not take care of yourself. If you are feeling rundown, schedule time for yourself based on what you need. Maybe you need to sleep in and extra hour, take a walk, enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning at home instead of rushing with a to-go cup to the car.
Secondly use what you have, avoid the urge to overspend thinking it will make you or someone else feel fulfilled. Your friends and family want you to be healthy and happy. Overspending, over committing, and over scheduling leads to feelings of pressure, resentment, and a dire need to recover. This season pick the area you have the biggest challenge with and put a self-care cap on it. Agree to yourself that you will budget your time, money, or schedule in a way that allows you to have enough to comfortably take care of yourself.
Do what you can! During holidays care givers in all walks of life think they gain superpowers. Powers that let them overextend without taking a break, without getting frustrated, without feeling rundown. How would this work with your body? If you decided that in December you didn't have to eat or sleep but you would be able to put in 3 more hours a day working? Instead of getting more accomplished you would progressively get less and less accomplished and it would be much more painful and frustrating. Sometimes the answer to the problem is the solution we least consider. Many of us believe more commitments, harder work, more time will equate to better results, when in fact the opposite if often true. If we took the time to step back, enjoy our family's company, making the journey joyful instead of simply striving to get to the destination as fast as possible.
For those of you who are natural givers and care takers here is a quote I read to remind me how important self-care is:
"It is better to build your own house and invite someone in for shelter than to hand them your bricks while you are building yours. If you keep handing them bricks from the house you are supposed to be building for yourself, you will turn around one day and the spot where you had planned to build your house will be an empty lot. Then you will be asking for bricks."
If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of others.