Holidays are filled with meaning. While friends and family members are focused on giving gifts to others this holiday season, take some time to give yourself the most important gift of all: the gift of self compassion.
The year of 2016 has been difficult for many people around the world. It's often easy to overlook your own mental, physical, and emotional needs when focused on working hard, providing support for others, and trying to stay calm as an inner storm of emotions drains your emotional energy.
Instead of prolonging the suffering by ignoring your emotional health, take the time to give yourself the gift of self-compassion this holiday season. Learn to love yourself, so that any gift you receive is a bonus, a joyous expression from people care about, rather than something that you need to fill an inner void.
Here are ten easy ways to give and receive the best gift of the year:
1. Practice saying no before you become overwhelmed (not just after).
Setting appropriate boundaries is challenging, but necessary to sustain growth. If you want to prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing during the holiday season and beyond, you must practice saying no to all of the extra activities that you'd like to do.
The fact is--when you're operating from an energy deficit--continuing to take on extra activities is only contributing to your demise. Don't wait to start saying no to extra events and tasks when you're overwhelmed, practice developing the healthy habit of setting boundaries with yourselves and others right now.
2. Ask for your needs to be met instead of expecting others to read your mind.
Disney movies did us all a disservice--no matter how much someone loves and cares for you, they can't read your mind. To expect them to do so is unrealistic and setting yourself and your relationships up for failure.
Part of becoming a mature adult is asking for your needs to be met. Be clear and concise. Stop waiting for your friends and family members to follow the breadcrumbs, and instead practice being courageous by telling them what you need.
3. Say or write three things you are grateful for each day.
First thing in the morning or the last thing before falling asleep, take the time to acknowledge your gratitude. We all have something to be grateful for--it's just a matter of perspective.
The more practice finding and expressing gratitude in your life, the better mindset you'll have. Extra Credit: have your spouse join you--it's a great connecting point.
4. Challenge your inner critic when it's being overly harsh.
You know that mean voice that tells you that you're never good enough? Tell it to shut up. Sometimes this voice appears to be helpful by igniting motivation for achievement and success, but the truth is that it's drive comes at a cost--your self-esteem.
When your inner critic rules your mental world, you develop a sense of emptiness and a never-ending-drive to fill that inner void. Find alternative motivation from love, meaning, and purpose rather than from something that creates a deficit that cannot be overcome.
5. Delegate tasks to others with intentionality.
Another part of setting boundaries is learning how to delegate when appropriate. While this is especially difficult for perfectionists and high-achievers, it can decrease stress and anxiety, providing you with additional emotional energy to use elsewhere.
6. Say or write three reasons you are proud of yourself each day.
Similar to practicing gratitude, a great way to build healthy self-esteem is to acknowledge things that you do well. Whether you prefer to write in a journal or share with your partner, allowing yourself to feel pride can ignite a force of positive motivation.
7. Integrate exercise, proper nutrition, and sleep into your weekly tasks.
Holistic wellbeing means balancing your mind, body, and spirit--each of which are interconnected. The foundation for success is establishing a healthy routine that covers all of your bases.
To get out of a state of emotional burnout, start getting back to the basics that sustain physical wellbeing, and notice how other areas of your life improve too.
8. Give yourself permission to be selfish so you can better help others.
If you ever cross into the danger zone of feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally drained every single day you need to formulate a plan.
Start by giving yourself permission to focus on your own needs before others--because if you aren't feeling well, you won't be able to be the parent, sibling, friend, or spouse that your loved ones deserve. Be selfish so that you can be present in your full capacity.
9. Amplify your courage and commitment by entering therapy.
Sure, you can keep putting Band-Aids on your wounds, but at some point you need to see a doctor. When you're not feeling well for a long time or are going through something difficult, seeking out a therapist is a great long-term solution.
Entering therapy is a sign of strength. It shows that you are truly committed to self-growth, self-improvement, and being the best person you can possibly become.
10. Put aside time each week to reflect and focus on all of the blessings in your life.
Cherish the ups and acknowledge the downs. One of the most rewarding things about being human is the ability to reflect on your life's journey.
This holiday season, treat yourself with the compassion and love that you would like to give to and receive from others.