Changing Your Priorities For the Holidays

Have you recovered from the holidays?

The holidays can be challenging for survivors, for many reasons. I used to feel exhausted after the holidays. Then I started to question why I was running around doing all the things I felt that I "should" be doing. Baking varieties of cookies, washing and ironing all the table cloths, scrubbing the floors, washing the windows, decorating every corner, planning every meal...the list goes on! Was it really something that I wanted or even enjoyed or was I doing it all because it was what my family did growing up or what my culture dictated was the "right" way to prepare/celebrate the holidays? Either way, it was exhausting!

I know I had good intentions and wanted to create good memories for my family but looking back, I can see I used to be so controlling and rigid with how things should be. Looking back, it makes me cringe and I feel bad for my kids. Yes, they do have fond memories but I know that some of my controlling ways would take all the joy out of it too. I felt bad once I realized this but I have compassion for myself now. I did not know that this is what I was doing or what it was like, I couldn’t truly see at the time because I was still operating out of past habits and aspects of my trauma. Being controlling felt safe but it didn’t feel good and it took me time to see that it wasn’t benefitting me or my loved ones anymore.

The good news is that I have come a long way. I did change and I changed for the better. It started with awareness, when I started to connect with “why” I was doing things.

For so long, my life was on autopilot. Looking back, it was as if my body was just running everyday on the action of taking care of others, doing what I should be doing, running in circles and never feeling like I was getting ahead or even making a difference. I was always so critical of myself, tense and rarely being intentional about my day, not taking care of myself first or evaluating what goals I had moving forward, that day, that week, or even that year.  

One day, it dawned on me that I did not want to spend the rest of my life like this. I realized that I had a choice and I finally could see that unless I was actively choosing myself and choosing what I wanted, my goals would never be realized and I would fall back into my old coping skills or habits to take care of everyone else first, and feel resentful at the end of the day that I had nothing left for me. I had a choice to end this cycle of misery. It didn’t control me, I controlled it!

This holiday season was the most relaxed, non-traditional holiday we have ever had in our house. And you know what? It still felt like Christmas. We had lovely meals and ate too much, we played lots of games, and enjoyed plenty of down time.  

A part of it being so laid back was because I was dealing with back pain and could not do as much as usual. I fell while walking in the rain on a dark evening, on the crooked and uneven sidewalks in Portland and landed on my back, needing 3 visits to the chiropractor, rest, and icing for over 10 days. I am better now and still easing back into the new year, enjoying slow stretching and TRE to help my body heal. (Check out my other blog about TRE here!)

I did feel bad that I could not contribute as much as I wanted to, at first, but now I am grateful that we made it our priority to be together and enjoy our time, not spending money on things we don't really need. Instead of feeling frantic over buying gifts and giving love with things, we gave each other our time, laughter, and love. We felt grateful for a peaceful home and loving friendships with one another. We shared our struggles and our wins over the past year and set our intentions for ongoing, loving support for the new year. And we realized that is what the holidays should really be about: time spent with the people you love!

So this year, the holidays weren't something we needed to recover from but something that was affirming and healing and I think we have created a new tradition. To keep it simple and remember what we enjoy the most, each other’s company, expressing our appreciation for each other over a delicious vegan meal, and playing games that bring us joy.

I write this as a reminder to you all that the holidays don’t need to be exhausting or overwhelming. In fact, they shouldn’t be! If you spend the first week or so of each new year recovering, you might want to take a closer look at how you spend your holidays. I give you permission to acknowledge that you might be doing things that other people want to do or that you think you have to do, out of tradition or nostalgia. You can make new traditions that better suit who you are now, not who you were as a child or a young adult. You can mold the holidays to be about your top values and priorities as you grow and change and heal, making it a time of rest, reflection, self-care, love, and relaxation.

And most importantly, if the holidays are about giving, you can give yourself the gift of freedom each holiday season, the gift of prioritizing yourself and being free to do what YOU want. Because making yourself happy is a gift. And you are worth it.

Ready to change? Are you stuck? Don’t worry. I can help! Just follow (this link) or call 619-889-6366 to reserve a one-hour coaching session with me ($125). Let me help you with the next step to heal your life. You deserve it! Reserve your spot NOW! 

Are you looking for more support? I have created a closed Facebook group for the readers of “Releasing Your Authentic Self."  If you are ready to dig deep, and want to experience the daily support, encouragement from others like you. Follow this link to learn moreReleasing Your Authentic Self Support Group.

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