Tis the season to be …. stressed out?????

I feel ya.

The holidays can be an especially difficult time of year when you struggle with anxiety, depression or a crazy mother-in-law.

There’s financial strain, social gatherings, family expectations - not to mention the triggering of loneliness, shame and grief emotions.  It’s enough to make you want to climb under your flannel sheets and hide.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Trust me when I say you can THRIVE during this challenging time of year.  

That’s right.  Not just survive, but thrive.  

And it starts with setting boundaries for yourself.  It starts with recognizing that this is just as much YOUR holiday as it is everyone else's and you deserve to enjoy it too.

Listen mama, I know your heart.

The heart that wants to make it the most special time for your kiddos.  To try one more time to please your parents or meet your in-laws expectations.  

Your heart that fears not having an Instagram worthy tree or fitting into your little black dress for the office Christmas party.

But mama, that heart needs protection.  Protection from the demands of others - but also from the expectations you put on yourself (or allow to be put on you.  Yes, I said allow).

So in an effort to help you truly enjoy the holidays I’m going to give you some boundaries - boundaries to put on yourself.

Boundaries to help you thrive this holiday season

  • Guard your sleep.  It doesn’t matter what hip and happening parties are out there.  Sleep is a crucial element of stabilizing your mental health. Aim for at least 7 hours. To help with that create an inviting environment in your room and get off devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
  • Move your body.  Exercise may not feel like fun, but getting just 30 mins of heart pounding movement will help you to relieve the stress of the season while flooding your body with much needed happy hormones. And you don’t need a fancy, expensive gym membership to move - I do all my workouts in my basement!
  • Practice gratitude.  This habit keeps your brain focused on what is going right instead of wandering to what might go wrong.  Gratitude lifts our spirits, relaxes our bodies and centres our minds. Start your morning and end your night by being thankful for specific things that happened that day.
  • Go where you want, leave when you want. Establish in advance what functions you will attend and when you will leave.  Create an exit strategy for yourself and communicate your departure time with the hostess in advance to avoid drawn out goodbyes or pleas to stay.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a depressant and impacts your brain's natural level of happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. This means that while it might help give you a boost the night before (or liquid courage), it will lead to feeling more anxious or depressed the next day.
  • Get outside. Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has shown a strong connection between time spent in nature and reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Go for a walk and take time to notice the nature around you, from freshly fallen show to the cloud patterns in the sky.

And here’s a little secret I’m going to share with y’all.

These boundaries?  For yourself?

They don’t just work for the holiday season.

Want to be able to cope with the stresses that come with everyday life? To be a more patient mom? Then you need to keep these self care boundaries in place year round.

So here’s to being brave and creating a happier holiday for yourself - and your family - this year.