Originally published on Adios Barbie and cross-posted here with their permission.
It’s that time of year! Yes, the holidays have come around once again.
Most of us, at least to some degree, look forward to the holidays. It’s a chance to catch up with family, eat some delicious food, and show your loved ones how much you appreciate them.
But there are some downsides to the holidays – especially when dealing with body shaming and relatives who aren’t very understanding and when trying to navigate recovery while surrounded by food.
This can make the holidays hard to navigate.
Going home can be stressful, so you’ll probably be in need of some self-care.
Approach Food in a New Way
The food politics of Thanksgiving and Christmas are complex.
These are holidays where you are supposed to stuff your face, yet we live in a culture with a very unhealthy relationship with food.
So while we’re being told it’s okay to ignore our diets and forget about the size of our waistlines during this time (which you should probably ignore all year), then we’re supposed to feel guilty about binge eating after the holidays are over and start those diets again.
It’s a very unhealthy attitude and is a huge part of the cultural confusion that we have around food. We’re supposed to overindulge at certain times, but otherwise we should be focused on losing weight.
It can be really hard to navigate all of these messages, which are often reinforced by our family and friends during the holidays.
And it can be especially difficult if you’re in recovery or moving through your own unhealthy relationship with food.
So it’s important to look at how you’re going to approach eating.
Of course, indulging in delicious food is a part of the holidays. But it’s also important to not criticize or beat yourself up for doing so.
Keep in mind the new relationship you are cultivating with food and try to keep the holidays in perspective.
Think about your approach to eating and try to keep this in mind as you go into eating large meals.
Eat what you want, and if you’re being pressured to eat more or differently, center yourself and calmly tell the person “No thank you” and leave it at that.
Often people overeat during the holidays not just because there’s an abundance of delicious food and a lot to celebrate, but also because of how stressful the holidays can be.
There are presents to buy, houses to decorate, cards to send out – the to-do list can be never-ending!
It’s common to use food as a coping mechanism for stress, and it’s something we’ve probably all done before.
If you’re feeling like this is the case for you, practice some self-care and put your needs, like sleeping, having leisure time, and resting, above the chaos.
Give to Yourself
The holidays are about giving to other people, and showing them how much you love and appreciate them.
But what about loving and appreciating yourself?
Self-love is something most of us take for granted. But it’s so, so important.
Take some time out this holiday season and do something just for you!
Whether that’s giving yourself a day off and just lying around in your PJs, or buying yourself a nice present, or turning the 12 Days of Christmas into the 12 Days of Self-Care.
If you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can also transform the 8 Days of Hanukkah into the 8 Days of Self-Care. Or, you could just make sure you give to yourself, whatever your beliefs!
Do something for you, whatever that might be.
You know in your heart what you are in need of. Listen!
It can be exhausting to be around your family for such a long time, especially if you’re staying at home or coming to visit for a week. It’s a lot of family at once, especially if every cousin you have stops by for a visit!
You might want to take some time away from your family, and that’s perfectly okay.
Have a conversation with a family member you feel close to and just tell them that you want to have a few hours to yourself. They’ll probably understand the feeling of being overwhelmed!
Beforehand, think about some self-care activities you enjoy, and then create a list you can keep handy. Consider doing things like going for a walk, finding a yoga class, meeting up with some old friends for lunch, or even visiting new places or your old high school!
There are so many ways to take advantage of going home for the holidays, so try to include things on your list that you may not otherwise have the opportunity to do.
We usually feel guilty for wanting some time alone, especially if we haven’t seen our family or friends back home for a while. But we all need to step back and take a breath or a moment to get back in touch with ourselves.
Nurture yourself if you feel the need!
Take Time to Check In
During the holidays, you’re often around people 24/7.
You’ll probably be bombarded with questions about how your job, your relationships, and your life are going. This can be overwhelming.
Take time to check in with yourself and see how you are doing.
Are you anxious, frantic, or scattered?
Consider meditating or maybe just taking a walk every night alone so that you can relax and breathe. It can help you to de-stress, center, and ground.
Is everyone stressed and bickering?
Organize playing a board game or something fun and relaxing together.
If you have friends or a partner that you didn’t bring to the festivities, take some time to connect with them as well.
You can vent about your families together and even find humor in your shared experiences!
Be Honest About Where You Are in Your Relationship
December is the most common month to get engaged. It’s also the month you’re most likely to get pregnant!
If you’re in a relationship, set aside a time to talk about your relationship – where you are with it and where you’re going.
Talk about your struggles and triumphs over the last year and create how you want the next year to look together.
Use the holiday season as a time to cherish and communicate with one another.
Also, if you think your relationship has run its course, this is a good time to talk about ending it.
You don’t want to visit their family and then guilt yourself into staying with them, or end up forming and solidifying a friendship with their mom.
Be honest with them and with yourself.
Listen to your intuition, as it’s a powerful form of self-care.
So whatever you’re doing this holiday season, remember to care for yourself. You know what you need better than anyone else, so listen.
Erin McKelle is a Contributing Writer and Online Community Manager for Everyday Feminism. She’s an e-activist, video blogger, student, and non-profit advocate and has launched several projects including Fearless Feminism and Consent is Sexy. In her spare time, Erin enjoys reading, writing bad poetry, drawing, politics and reality TV. You can find her blogging at Fearless Feminism, Facts About Feminism, and Period Positive. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMckelle and read her articles here.