I just got back from the mall, where I finished all my Christmas shopping. Whew, is that a good feeling! Sometimes I have trouble staying focused while shopping for others because I get distracted by things that I would like to buy for myself. But this year, I vowed to stick to my list and, for the most part, did a pretty good job. As part of my effort to stay on track with my holiday budget, I've been thinking about what gifts we can give to ourselves during the holiday season that don't cost any money. We are often so focused on doing things for others this time of year that it's easy to lose sight of our own needs. Yet, it is critical that we replenish our own internal resources. So, without further ado, I present my gift guide for the most important person on your shopping list this year: yourself.
As women, we fulfill so many different roles, especially around the holidays. More often than not, we are the chief gift buyers and wrappers, card writers, meal makers, cookie bakers, party throwers, holiday decorators, and trip planners, on top of our roles as girlfriends, wives, daughters, daughters-in-law, friends, siblings, colleagues, and the myriad of other personal and professional responsibilities that fill our days. Don't get me wrong: I absolutely love this time of year (and all of the festivities that go along with it) and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. But if we're not careful, it's easy to burn out, which is why it's so important to take seriously good care of ourselves during the holiday season. Take a minute to check in with yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Feeding yourself nourishing foods? Taking time for yoga, running, or whatever exercise gives you energy and makes you feel great? Drinking enough water? These might seem like basics, but for me, they're the first things that slip when I'm stressed or short on time.
2. The word "No."
The ability to say "no" is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, not only during the busy holiday months, but throughout the year. It's also something that a lot of women struggle with. As Nina so eloquently wrote in her guest post for Totally Tay, "a lot of us over-extend ourselves and try to please others...I believe this is a symptom of an underlying anxiety that we are not enough as we are." It's so true. What would your life look like if you were able to say "no" to the people, situations, and activities that don't fulfill you or bring you joy? Imagine how wonderful that would feel, how much space and time and energy it would free up. Granted, there are a lot of things we do in pursuit of a larger goal. For example, researching 401K options might not exactly bring us joy, but it's something we do because it moves us toward a larger goal of financial security. That's not the kind of thing I'm talking about though. I'm talking about saying "no" to the stuff that depletes our energy and doesn't give us anything in return. The drama queen friend that leaves you feeling exhausted and drained. The co-worker who tries to pawn off his or her responsibilities on you. The time-consuming project that no longer aligns with your interests or dreams. What better time of year to free up some mental space and energy for yourself by learning how and when to say "no"? (You can find some great strategies for saying "no" here and tips on setting boundaries here.)
3. Mini bursts of luxury
Once you get into the habit of saying "no" to toxic people, situations, and activities, you'll may find yourself with some extra time and energy on your hands. What to do with the newfound freedom? Indulge in a little bit of luxury, of course. The word luxury might conjure up images of Ferraris, private jets, and shopping sprees. But luxuries needn't break the bank, and in fact, the best ones are often free or quite inexpensive. Write down a list of five things that make your heart sing. Once you've got your list written down, take out your planner and schedule ways to indulge in mini bursts of luxury for each item. For example, I am a dog lover, so my luxury might be to volunteer an hour of my time at a shelter or the humane society. I also love to cook, so another luxury might be to peruse a gourmet food store or spice shop and then make a fabulous meal. And so on. It's amazing how luxurious it feels to indulge in the things we truly love but don't typically make enough time for!
What gifts will you give yourself this year?
Image via This is Glamorous.