This time of year includes more weeknights and weekends filled with get-togethers of family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances and other assemblages of people you may not see all the time. Throw in all the additional cooking, baking, shopping, spending, eating, drinking and general merriment and the entire end of the year is slipping by in an instant.
No matter what time of year, it is difficult to have added obligations without added stress.
When I talk about taking care of and finding ways to prioritize you in all of life’s craziness, there will be some groaning and eye-rolling. No one wants to take time to worry about things like this; we live in a society that thrives off of how busy we all are.
Think about it like this: When you are driving down the road and see your gas gauge heading toward “E,” you may be annoyed and mutter some choice words into the universe, but you do not question the fact that you will have to stop and fill up to be able to keep going.
The same can be said of yourself. When you are emptied out, you should be able to stop and refuel. Do not feel guilty about finding moments to prioritize yourself. Let’s take a look at ways of keeping yourself ready to tackle not only the rest of the holidays, but also life in general. These suggestions, from the University of Missouri Extension’s “Taking Care of You” curriculum can serve as reminders of things to continue, begin or restart.
Move your body in ways that you enjoy and are safe for you.
Incorporate physical activity into your daily life.
Eat attentively, slowly and strive for variety, balance and moderation of food choices.
Get enough sleep each night.
Plan short times of rest and relaxation into daily life.
Preserve your body by being mindful of medication and supplement use, alcohol intake and keeping tobacco products out of your body.
Nourish and exercise your intellect by exposing yourself to stimulating environments and activities.
Accept and meet new challenges willingly. Learn something new every day.
Become aware of and accept your feelings and emotions.
Manage stress with healthy coping strategies.
Maintain a healthy self-concept. Be realistic, focus on what satisfies you and choose to grow from experiences.
Identify your interpersonal needs.
Develop a supportive network of family and friends.
Watch out for taking on too much responsibility and only doing things to please others.
Contribute in meaningful ways to the wider community.
Find meaning and purpose in your life.
Identify your beliefs, values, ethics, guiding principles and priorities.
None of this will be an absolute to eliminate stress and obligations. It may seem insurmountable in a given situation. All of that is fine and understandable. Let this serve as a reminder to prioritize yourself and not feel guilty about doing just that.
Mary Metten serves as the health and well-being educator for the Kenosha County UW-Extension office.