Preparing for the Holidays: A MilSpo's Guide to Self Care

Have you ever felt run down during the holidays or gotten sick over Christmas break? If so, you may have experienced the classic “holiday hangover”.

Sometimes we may blame those feelings or getting sick on being inside more or on the cold weather. However, that’s not usually the cause. During the holidays, we are

eating more (and not always the best options), socializing more (germs! yuck!), trying to get our enormous to-do lists knocked out (anxiety!), and spending more money (a whole other stress trigger).

One of the first things to be neglected at this wonderful, but stressful, time is self-care.

We get so busy planning, shopping, cooking, and celebrating (usually on our own with no family support) that we tend to push aside our own well being. Then, add a deployment into the mix and it can be even worse! That's when holiday fun becomes holiday stress. We need a break the cycle! Are you searching for ways to better care of yourself during the holidays?

Here are SIX Simple but powerful ways for MILSOs to practice self-care when preparing for the holiday season!

Create Boundaries ahead of time. It is really important for boundaries and limits to be set ahead of time. Family has a way of pushing our limits,even though we love them with all our hearts. When you add in the stress that the holidays bring, it can be even harder to keep our wits about us at times. So maybe take some time to think of these questions as you prepare and set boundaries.

Are you going to visit family? Or will they be visiting you?

Is there anyone that is taxing on your emotional or mental well being?

What will the sleeping or hotel arrangements be like?

Who is in charge of the food?

Will there be activities?

By setting boundaries (and expectations) ahead of time and expressing those boundaries with your SO and family members, you will better set yourself up for success.

Find an Escape. Just because the holidays are upon us, doesn’t mean you can’t take time for yourself. Giving yourself an escape when you find yourself in a situation that is pulling on you negatively will be a lifesaver. Escaping does not mean ignoring the circumstances or pushing the emotions away. Instead, it means giving yourself time to process and brings your emotions down in order to better address the situation later. Some escapes may include: going to the store alone, taking a nap, meditation, or taking a drive and calling a friend to vent. Your escape may look different than the person next to you, but the important thing is determining what it will be ahead of time and allowing yourself to take the time you need to go there.

Maintain Routine. Lack of routine is definitely difficult, especially if having a routine is a big part of your lifestyle to begin with. Having kids, you KNOW that if you disrupt their routine too much, you will pay for it in the end. But routine definitely can get disrupted with all the travel and late night Christmas tree lightings, holiday cookie exchanges, "Friendsgivings," etc. So, how do you counter that? Hold on to some of the key parts of your routine.

For me, having a routine is a big part of self care, and coping with anxiety issues. So, do your best to maintain the important aspects of your routine. This can really help you feel more stable and normal.

Perhaps you read a chapter of a book before going to sleep. Make sure to download or pack a book to keep that going. If you have a skin care routine for morning or night, be sure to keep doing that! Just because it is the holidays, doesn’t mean your ENTIRE routine has to go out the window!

Say "No." This is pretty self-explanatory: Allow yourself to say NO. I know...the school holiday bake sale is super important and, even though it is also on the same day as two other commitments, I am sure you “can” squeeze it in. But what if you didn’t? Instead of filling your calendar with every possible commitment, say "yes" to the most important and no to the rest. Don’t worry, they will find someone else to set up and man the donuts table at the bake sale.

Give and Serve. As a military family, we sacrifice A LOT of normalcy when it comes to our lives. This can be done in a hundred different ways. There are so many opportunities to give and so many people and organizations in need. Find a cause close to your heart and give the way you want to give. Don't worry about giving the way others think you should give.

It doesn't even need to be financial giving. While donating money to people or causes can be beneficial, volunteering your time can also provide significant benefit to the cause as well as to yourself and your family! This helps by reducing stress and providing a greater feelings of happiness and well-being.

Give Yourself Grace. There is an expectation as a military family to try to having everything be as “normal” and perfect as possible. After all, there is usually nothing “normal” about our lives. But this is not always possible. Maybe this year you won’t be able to travel to see family after all, or maybe your SO is deployed and unable to be home for the holidays. Your kid may throw a tantrum or cry the entire time you are visiting Santa or maybe that ONE item your child asked for is completely sold out.

Instead of allowing those feelings of failure or frustration take over, give yourself some grace. I know, easier said than done sometimes. What may help is preemptively to lower the expectations and give yourself the grace you need to smile through the chaos.

Don’t Allow Yourself To Burn Out!

Practicing self-care during the holidays takes a little discipline but is well worth the effort. We can't expect to take care of others' needs if the cup of our own replenishment has run dry. This is where making time for self-care becomes critical to our enjoyment of the holidays.

BIO: Hi, I'm Noralee! I'm a military wife of 10 years, mother of three under 4, and lover of southern comfort food, my planner and dark chocolate. In between our 7 deployments and 4 PCSs, when I'm not reading kid books, changing diapers or grocery shopping, I love to run, read and cook freezer meals to feed my family. Military life has a way of bringing out the worst or best in us and I want to help everyone be their best even on their worst day! I am passionate on how to manage home and family while focusing on self-care and finding a tribe in this crazy life! Connect with me at:


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