4 Ways to Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

Joanna

No matter your situation, being a military spouse during the Holidays can be difficult. Whether your spouse is deployed, training, or a geo-bachelor, you’re missing your hometown and family, or you’re a new spouse who’s never cooked a Thanksgiving dinner before, the stress can take a toll—both on yourself and on the fun of the season. Often, we’re left to our own devices and can’t necessarily call on friends or family to help out when the going gets tough. We’re so busy taking care of other people, that it’s easy to neglect ourselves.
This holiday season, give yourself a break, a little love, and a lot of self-care. Here are a few ways to do that:

Be Kind to Yourself

Easier said than done, right? My mom’s a Home Ec teacher—so when it comes to entertaining and cooking, I hold myself to a pretty high (read: unattainable) standard. I like when everything is perfect. PERFECT. And I will work as hard as I can to make sure it happens. (And get frustrated when my best-laid plans go awry.)

No matter how much we say Semper Gumby or remind ourselves that we’re only human, when deployment throws a monkey-wrench in celebrations, when Murphy’s Law has made a mess of things, or when we just don’t feel like we can go on another moment, it can be really tough to accept our humanness. After all, we want the holidays to be wonderful—and a lot of the time that responsibility falls squarely on us.

So have an ugly cry (we won’t judge you), take a long bath (break out that bubble bath you haven’t used yet), or sit the kids in front of Sesame Street for an hour (and don’t feel guilty) so you can collect yourself. Be realistic in your expectations for the season. And remind yourself that you are enough. You are strong. You can do this.

Don’t Gobble (Get it?) Everything in Sight

This has nothing to do with weight and everything to do with the way you feel after the holidays are over. It’s easy to eat mindlessly or emotionally during the stretch between November and December—but if you don’t want to feel stuffed, shift your perceptions. Instead of thinking, “I deserve that,” when you see the dessert table—that’s my weakness—think, “I deserve this,” and imagine yourself feeling fantastic after not over-indulging.

Other easy ways to cut back without sacrificing? Don’t eat while you’re cooking. Those chocolate chips look great by themselves, but they’ll be even better in the cookies you’re baking. Replace sugary drinks or alcoholic beverages with glasses of water or Lipton® tea. Hold out for the good stuff. If pumpkin pie’s your thing, go for it (and top it with a scoop of Breyer’s®). Just ignore the mediocre desserts—you know, the ones that look promising but are just a mouthful of disappointment and sadness.

Dwell on the Good

This November 27th, I’ll be celebrating my birthday and Thanksgiving by myself. When my husband and I realized he was standing watch on both holidays (yes, I’m counting my birthday as one!), we were both a little bummed—we love blow-out celebrations. And this year, we just won’t be able to do it up that big.

But that’s okay. I’m choosing to look at the good side of this annoyance. (Because really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s all it is. An annoyance.) I’m excited to turn on the Macy’s Parade and watch it all in my PJs, without worrying about cooking a darn thing until later in the afternoon. And I’m so glad that he’s coming home at all that day. That means more to me than anything else. There is always a silver lining to every rain cloud (and many times, there are a whole bunch). Find and dwell on them. Then find more.

Be Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving, after all! In the day-to-day bustle, it can be tough to take time to reflect. However, studies have shown that people who are intentionally grateful are happier and are able to transition through difficult times more easily. (Really!)
Spend a little time being thankful for everything in your life: the good, the bad, the goofy, the wonderful. Even if it feels like everything is falling off its hinges around you, life is fantastic and so is this time of the year. Practice gratitude for what you have and the people who surround you.

This season, be proactive and take control of your self-care before you feel burnt-out. You deserve it!

(If you find yourself feeling alone, hopeless, and helpless, know that there are people that will listen and help. Call The Military Crisis Line (800-273-8255) to speak to a counselor confidentially and free-of-charge. You are not alone.)

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