Q: Hi, Tobi. I’ve been really enjoying your self-care message, but I have to admit that it has been really hard for me this holiday season to take care of all of my own needs in addition to the needs of my houseguests, my family, my pets, etc. It seems like I should be putting all of these things first because it’s Christmas and to do otherwise would be selfish. Can I get your input on this? I’m a beginner in my self-care journey, so this is my first holiday trying to reprogram my way of doing things.
A: Don’t worry! It’s NOT too late in the holiday season to start taking better care of YOU!
First of all…don’t start getting down on yourself for falling off the self-care wagon as things got busier and more hectic; just get back on! The last thing we need is you beating-up on yourself about not taking care of your own needs.
The SAME THING happened to me just around Thanksgiving this year. I was feeling like there was more to do than I could get done. I was feeling the “old me” creep back in as an impatient, irritable, over-committed mom, business owner, designer, and daughter.
And you know what happened? Thanks to my health coach, Julianne, I realized what I was doing. And I stopped dead in my tracks and made a different choice. Or several different choices that would help maintain my calm and happy existence.
It really is as simple as that: just making a different choice. But so often we don’t believe we have a choice. We don’t believe we have any option but to do all the things we have already over-committed to. So we do them anyway with frustration, or resentment, or even anger. And that’s not what giving or sharing or caring for others should be like.
But you see, it is REALLY as simple as just using the 4 Ds. I heard about the 4 Ds on Oprah a few years ago; she tell us to “Delay, Delete, Diminish, or Delegate,” and I add to that my 5th D…”Do” it and get it over with. Just only have to decide which “D” applies in each situation and then take action.
So two days before Thanksgiving, I jumped into action and I immediately delayed or deleted several things that just weren’t making me happy. I postponed a photo shoot and interview right off the bat. Although I was VERY honored to be included in the feature, I just couldn’t squeeze it into my schedule without multiplying my stress or taking time away from my family. So that one got pushed back until Spring….1 down, several to go.
The next thing I did was call my husband AND a sitter and made arrangements for me to go to yoga TWICE! That’s right, I was feeling stressed so I went Tuesday night while my husband helped me get my daughter to dance and Wednesday morning for an hour while my daughter played with her FAVORITE teenage sitter even though I had tons of things to do to prep for Thanksgiving.
This is a BIG shift for me because my old pattern was to cancel everything that would help my mental or physical health like yoga, working out, or massage when life got busy. I thought those were the last thing I had time for which I now see was so counter-intuitive to staying healthy while busy. But NO MORE! Now I will take care of me FIRST before anything else, especially things that don’t have to be done.
The next thing I did was come home in the middle of the day and get on the treadmill for a run. Yes I had already had a shower for the day. And yes I would have to dress again, but who cares?!? I was feeling over-stressed and I know that working-out is a big stress reliever for me, so I stopped what I was doing and immediately got on that machine for an instant attitude adjustment. It was a GREAT idea with instant results.
Next, I began to examine my feelings and thoughts and realized that they were getting negative for the first time in a long time. So what did I do? I changed them. Just like that. I got out a piece of paper and first started writing down all the things for which I was grateful (yes, there’s that gratitude thing again). I started to count all the blessings that were coming up: a trip to New York with my mom and daughter, a girls’ shopping trip to Atlanta with mom and my sister-in-law that we take bi-annually, going to my daughter’s school Christmas party which she was SO excited about, seeing her perform in our Church Christmas Pageant in a few weeks…the list was endless.
What’s more, I used a visual that I learned in church that Julianne and I have applied to life in general. It is a tree that has roots as deep as the branches are tall. And the concept is that if we don’t take care of Self and get grounded in our lives–stable and secure through self-love, self-care, and healthy living–then we can never grow our branches out to take care of our families, our businesses or the world. So I began reciting my mantra “Roots before Shoots” so I would remember to take care of me (my roots) first and the shoots will thrive.
Julianne reminded me that it’s like the safety precautions on an airplane…put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. During the holiday season, we all need to be putting on our oxygen masks so we can JUST BREATHE. Then we can be prepared to accomplish all the other things on our plates.
And I believe that YOU can do the same thing for yourself in these last few days before Christmas. It’s a time of peace, not anxiety. Remember that and do what you can to choose not to be frazzled. Best of luck to you; I KNOW you can turn it around.