The holiday season is officially upon us. With all that’s happened in the U.S. and in the world at large over the past few months, I feel especially unsettled going into Thanksgiving. There is a weird tension for me, between wanting to blissfully participate in national and religious traditions and wanting to wallow in the reality of our current political situation and the implications that all these traditions hold for those politics.
I also want to make a lot of delicious food and eat it.
This past weekend, I finally had the time to sit down and plan my holiday eats. I sat on my couch with my laptop and my collection of cookbooks and after about an hour, I had planned a solid Thanksgiving meal that would probably feed about 30 people and that would cost me somewhere around $250 with all the bourgie ingredients that ended up on my shopping list. Something that I was initially excited about how so quickly turned into an overwhelming, laborious task – just more added to the list of obligations. It was in this moment that I realized something that I often realize about myself – I was doing too much.
Doing too much is my default way of being. I build grandiose plans in my mind without taking time and energy into account and I either end up drained and unexcited or I crack under the pressure and end up in bed.
Instead of letting my planning overwhelm me, I decided to scale it back and find the beauty in a simplier agenda. I chose 3 less elaborate recipes with overlapping ingredients that wouldn’t cost a ton of money and I got back to being excited about being in my kitchen and trying so new dishes.
This moment reminded me that I will have to work to relieve stress over the next couple of months and begain thinking of strategies to stay even throughout the holidays. Here’s what I came up with.
ONE. Put personal care on my official To-Do List – Usually when I make a task list, it’s full of “serious” things related to my academic work, teaching, or adult life more broadly. This holiday season (and beyond), I am pushing myself to consider self-care as a “serious” task – because it is. I will include self care on the list and hold myself to completing it as I would any other project. I will cross it off with a sense of pride in knowing that I’ve carved out time for restoration. Some serious items of self-care that ended up on my list for today were conditioning my hair and researching how to build a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon!).
TWO. Talk to myself – Throughout any given day, I convince myself that certain things HAVE to get done. I HAVE to go to this place. I HAVE to complete this activity. When I actually take a step back, however, there are very few things that actually HAVE to happen on any given day. Sure, there are deadlines and other parameters that add pressure, but those usually only apply to a few things. Lately, I’ve made a habit of actually asking myself, often out loud (perks of living alone!), What do you actually HAVE to get done today? What could wait until tomorrow? What’s at stake with not getting this done today? Answering these questions usually relieves the pressure for me. Asking them doesn’t necessarily mean that I don’t still try to complete all of the things that I have on my list, but I do so with less anxiousness and a sense of control. I am not overly concerned with not completely everything because I know that it is ultimately of little consequence.
THREE. Protect my energy – I have to acknowledge that the holidays might require more of me energetically. In addition to having more on my plate (literally and figuratively), being around friends and family can also be draining. As an introvert, I experience this more intensely than some but regardless of your personality, being social still takes an energetic toll. I can’t forget about this as I plan my days over the next six weeks. I won’t be hard on myself if I’m more tired than usual or if I find myself in need of more personal time.
Happy Holidays everyone!