December 23, 2015
Postpartum Support International Blog
How to Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season
by Andrea Bates
The holiday season is a beautiful time. Filled with joy and laughter, music and excitement, cookies and presents – what’s not to love?
The holidays can be the most stressful time of the year for families. Whether it’s financial obligations, the logistics of traveling, too much time with family (yes, this is a thing), or simply an overload of emotions, the holidays can leave us depleted beyond what we might expect.
I’ve got a few reminders for you to get you through the holidays without disregarding your mental health.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Eating is a part of everyday life, how could you possibly forget? But trust me. You’re going to forget to eat. You probably won’t remember until you’ve got yourself one killer of a headache or find yourself ready to run and hide. Eat something. Start with breakfast. You feed your kids every morning, right? Feed yourself, too. And I’m not talking about table scraps. Eat something.
I’m sure you’re laughing now, and that’s fine. But please. TRY to get some sleep. I don’t just mean rest. Don’t sit there on your phone or make grocery lists. Take a pause. Sleep. Ask your partner or a family member to help with the baby for a bit and take a nap. Do it. Don’t let yourself crash and burn due to lack of sleep.
Planning often feels futile when you have kids. Especially very young ones. We all know that the likelihood of things happening exactly the way we plan for them to is slim to none. But plan anyway. Plan your schedule. Look at the events you’ve got coming up – or the things you’d like to take the kids to but just don’t know if it’s possible. It probably is possible—just plan for it.
Plans don’t always work the way we want. You know it and I know it. Just because I’m encouraging you to plan things in advance doesn’t mean I want you to beat yourself up if they don’t work out. You’re a mom. Babies don’t know that plans matter. They only know that they need/want/have to do or have that thing right now! Ssssh, baby. Mommy’s resting. Or trying to.
I don’t mean when you’re sleeping. I mean carve out even the tiniest bit of time just for you. Go get your nails done. Grab a coffee by yourself or with a friend. Watch a movie (even if it’s upstairs in your room…alone) or catch up on your favorite TV show. Read a book you’ve been dying to pick up. Go sit out on the porch and watch the sunrise. Do something just for you. You’re entitled. Make it happen. Consider it a holiday gift to yourself.
The holidays are truly beautiful. There’s nothing quite like family time, or baby’s first holiday, or sending out that first family photo to everyone you’ve ever known. But don’t forget about you. Maintain your doctor appointments. Go see your therapist. Take your medications. Don’t drink too much alcohol (it’s a wonderful way to celebrate, sure, but be aware of how it impacts your mood and interacts with any medications you might be taking). Eat whatever you want, but pay attention to your body’s needs. Go for a walk if you can’t get to the gym. Take your sneakers with you wherever you go. Lace up and head out into the sunshine and fresh air. It won’t be a cure-all, but it will help you clear your head some.
And most of all? Talk to your loved ones. If you’re feeling overwhelmed it’s important to let them know. Don’t shield your partner from what you’re experiencing. He or she won’t be able to support you without knowing what’s wrong. You might be worried what your in-laws will think if you take a nap in the middle of the day, but they’ll be more than happy to spend time with their precious grandbaby. Let them. Let your mom come over and feed you. Permit yourself to accept help. There is nothing wrong with you. We all need help now and then. Let others in.
I wish all of this for you. I wish for you the strength to open up if you need to. To remember you matter. To take time just for you without any guilt. And above all else – I wish you a beautiful holiday.
Andrea is a native New Yorker living in NC who has become quite accustomed to wearing flip-flops year-round. An LCSW, she works part-time, benefitting her social media addiction, and volunteers regularly for several non-profit organizations helping women in need of support. Andrea has been published on sites like Carolina Parent, Postpartum Progress, Scary Mommy and Midlife Boulevard. You can also find her at her own website, Good Girl Gone Redneck, writing about her life as a mom, her family, important causes, and incredible books you absolutely must read
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