While December can be full of all of the healthy loving moments that make life meaningful and special, it is also well known to be a time of burn out and exhaustion. Regardless of your spiritual background or religious belief system, this time of year can be overwhelming for anyone. The beginning of December is a good time to reassess your boundaries and recommit to yourself through the next month. With the right boundaries, you will be more likely to find the meaning and connection that this time of year can be about. I will run through a list of traditions this time of year that can be healthy or harmful depending on your boundaries.
There is something so special about family recipes, cozy foods and special treats that only tend to come out this time of year. To be extreme and say you wont partake in any of these items can leave you feeling isolated and sad about missing out. On the other hand, saying yes to all of the goodies can leave you feeling poorly in your own body, tired, frustrated, and can lead so some real health issues. You can do things like being sure to eat really healthy around days where you know you will indulge instead of indulging every day. Pick the foods that really do mean a lot to you and be willing to say no to the extra treats just because they are there. You can also see if there are any new healthier recipes that are also fun and yummy. Find the balance for yourself for what is actually fun and meaningful to let yourself savor and enjoy and where its ok to say no because the treat will feel like empty calories, cholesterol and pounds tomorrow.
There is a lot of pressure to see people this time of year. Whether it's your job's holiday party or a traditional family get together, it can all be overwhelming. It is ok to choose the events that are most important to you and say no to some of the others. Sometimes the event itself can be a fun a positive way to reconnect with people but the food prep, gift buying and dressing around it can make the event become more of a stressor than any fun. If it is an event you want to go to, don't put pressure on yourself to make the most elaborate anything or to buy the best present. Give yourself permission to make it simple and easy, and turn the focus back towards enjoying the people. Some events may feel necessary even if you aren't interested in attending. Give yourself permission to say no if you really need to, give yourself a way to leave early if you get overwhelmed. Even with family obligations, give yourself time and space to prepare, step away or recover if you need to.
There is so much pressure to give the perfect gift. Gift giving can be so much fun, bring joy, laughter, and appreciation, but it can also be full of disappointment, resentment and anxiety. Gift giving is an expression of love and caring. If that is the main goal when you give or receive a gift then you are getting the real meaning out of it. If you start to feel pressure to buy more, or get someone a gift just because they got you one, or stress about spending enough, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to just not right now.
Like all other times of the year, if eating, socializing and giving of yourself comes from a place of intention and a conscious decision, then you are probably going to enjoy it, and it will be worth it. The minute we take on all of the holiday chaos from a place of just tying to get it all done, then we are going to start to loose the meaning and start to feel the stress. Give boundaries a try this season and see if you notice a difference in how your body feels.