Surviving the Holidays as an HSP – Part 3, Self Care
Welcome to the third part in my Highly Sensitive Homeschooler series on surviving the holiday season.
The first two parts can be found here:
Surviving the Holidays Part 1 – The Homeschooling
Surviving the Holidays Part 2 – Know Your Lines
This third part will focus on something I know so many caring, sensitive moms have trouble with – self care.
I think there are a lot of reasons we shy away from self care:
- We see it as selfish
- We think we should be able to do it all without help and care
- We are just too busy and our family comes first
- We compare ourselves to the people on Pinterest and Facebook — where we can only see their perfectly presented outsides — and see ourselves as lacking, so we beat ourselves up instead of gathering ourselves in
As highly sensitive individuals, we’ve probably also been told that our *real needs* for a certain atmosphere are just us “being picky” or “too sensitive”. We may start to believe that that is true, to our detriment.
In this busy, self-sufficient, self-contained society, however, it’s likely that if YOU don’t take care of yourself, no one will. There is much less “chatting over the fence” and multi-generational housing where there were outlets for stress and built in “extra hands.” Husbands are busy, friends are busy. It’s up to you to care for you.
Care of the Body
Check in often with how you are feeling. Are you hungry, thirsty, shoulders tense, stomach clenched, tired? Beyond tired? If you can not just stop what you are doing to, say, make a meal or take a nap, see what you can do to help yourself in that moment. Sometimes stepping outside to turn your face to the sun and deep breathe for a minute or two can do wonders. Take a brisk walk around the outside of your house or apartment. Have a glass of water if it’s been awhile since you have had any.
Get to bed as early as you can. I know many of you stay up late because it’s “your time.” I do it too. But sometimes it’s ok to go to bed lonely and feeling put out because you haven’t had your alone time. You may not *need* as much alone time if you feed your need for sleep, since emotions always get intensified with exhaustion.
Understand yourself when making up your to-do lists for the day or week. Do you do better with doing one errand a day or staying in most days and going out all day to get everything done? Remember, during December it will seem like everyone in the world chose the same day as you to go out and do errands, so that may change your answer. 😉
Care of the Spirit
Find the beauty in the moment, in the season — each person is different! I love having lots of Christmas lights in the house and will put up with a lot to see that beauty, but I have one friend that gets driven crazy by it. I get put over the edge by noise, for example right now my kids have turned the air purifier way up because the tree is dusty, and they turned up the radio to hear it…then one child tried talking to me. Melt down,…my stomach tightens and my breathing shallows, and I start sounding exasperated when I talk. Another person, even another HSP, might not be bothered by the noise half as much. So do what works for you to spend time in beauty this season, indoors and out. A walk in nature, a drive for Christmas lights, a kitten video on Facebook, maybe some fresh flowers might be nice.
Grab all quiet time you can – turn off the TV, radio, step away from “social noise” of social media. Not forever, just for as long as you can stand. Crack a window and listen to the wind blow or the birds chirping. And I’ll say it again – breathe deep. It’s amazing how much held stress that releases.
Always have something to look forward to every day, even if it’s just that yummy cup of coffee or the smile on your son’s face when your husband comes home.
Stop talking to yourself in ways you would probably never ever talk to another human to their face – “Idiot,” “That was stupid,” “I can’t do anything right!” “You did it again!” “I am so fat and ugly.” Just. Stop. Even if you DO mess up every day (and I know I do), you deserve the care you would give another human. Be gentle. You are worth it!
Lose yourself in some good fiction instead of baking that 10th dozen cookies.
Laugh! find something on Netflix or YouTube you find funny.
Cry – a good release can do wonders.
If you see a therapist, schedule an extra session!
Accept what is, right now…stop for awhile all your researching and mulling over every issue, every difficulty you are dealing with. It will all still be there in January! Set a date to revisit it, after the holidays.
See if you can ask for a little more support – I know it’s hard to ask for help (especially when you think you won’t or can’t get it because of past experience), but it doesn’t have to be extensive. Maybe you can get others to do little things – “Hey Sis, I’m going to text you once a day, could you just say ‘atta girl or something?” “Dear, could you pour me a cup of coffee when you pour yours, until Christmas? It would really give me a lift.” Maybe a thread in a favorite Facebook support group could be dedicated to people posting their tough moment and getting virtual hugs … even just a small extra thing each day can be a rejuvenating little dose of “someone cares.”
Don’t feel guilty for one second about caring for yourself!! It is not healthy to feel stressed all the time, and so whatever care you give yourself to get back to some kind of middle ground (instead of stressed all the time) is necessary for health. It’s as necessary as eating and breathing, we just don’t see the damage we are causing until it is too late.
We as HSPs need it more than the average person, because we absorb so much extra stimulation. It’s a real need. We have to erase the shaming messages we may have grown up with , and probably still get from the world at large.
Please don’t look at any of these as another “should” put on top of your already overwhelmed spirit. That’s like the opposite of self care, totally not what I intend.
Simply do what you want with what you’ve read – if something sparks a little joy in your soul, do that one if you can. No pressure, no “shoulds,” simply love sent from me to you…and from you to yourself.