My gift to you this season is words from a good friend and colleague of mine, Stephanie Gilbert. Over the last few years Stephanie has received her licenses/certifications for Zumba, Barre, Stretching Mobility and is certified through AFAA. If you ever get a chance to go to one her classes, you will not be disappointed. She teaches in the Snellville and Grayson Georgia areas.
Stephanie: It’s Christmas time!!! The most wonderful time of the year!!!!! Right!!!???? Or is it??? Maybe for you it is a time that stirs up hard emotions, depression and lots of anxiety. It does for me. Past events, a long history of depression, and high expectations makes the holiday season seem more like a giant panic attack than a time of great excitement. So how do you make it through this time of year and actually enjoy it? I’ll share with you a few of my tips for making this Christmas season (any season for that matter) the best it can be. I really mean that….not just, fake it till you make it.
My number one rule!!! Set good boundaries!!!!! This is multi-faceted. You’ve heard the old saying that good fences make good neighbors….it’s because it’s true!! When you have clearly defined boundaries it protects you, it protects others and it allows you to not have to squirm out of uncomfortable situations (because you have protected yourself ahead of time). Let me give you some examples…
You (or you and your spouse) decide how many holiday, social functions you will attend. You know…there is his work party, your work party, the church group party, the neighborhood party, the best friends party, the sprinkling of December birthday parties, and the list could go on and on….it may even include dreaded family events. It’s an anxiety ridden person’s worst nightmare. So you decide something along these lines….there are 4 weekends in December. I will allow only 2 Saturdays to be used for social events. Decide what those two are and wipe your hands of the rest. That is not to say you don’t care for all these people but we need to claim our sanity back!!!
Give yourself some exercise!!! This falls into the boundaries category too. At the beginning of the week, decide what days you are going to hit the gym and plan it!!! Set yourself up for success. Don’t just think…oh my will power will get me to the gym, NO IT WONT!!! Pack some gym clothes and put them in your car, call a friend to keep you accountable, DO NOT let something or someone else talk you out of the boundary that you set for the health of YOU!!! Exercise has documented results that shows it will help you reduce anxiety, reduce the symptoms of depression, and helps your body cope with stress. ON TOP of that, it’s good for your physical health. I have never had anyone come to a fitness class who afterwards said, “man, I wish I had never done that.” Why??? Because exercise increases your body’s endorphins (chemicals in the brain that makes you feel better).
Make some time for you!!! Wait, isn’t that what exercise is for? NO. Take some time (even as little as 15 mins) to sit in peace and quiet!!! NO PHONES, NO TV. Me personally, I like to soak in my bath tub. Again, boundaries!!! This has been determined ahead of time, Mommy goes and takes a bath at a certain time each night which means I am off the clock for that set time. It’s not a surprise to anyone, it hasn’t caught anyone off guard. I get that time to reset my mind and my mood, or whatever else needs some resetting. It doesn’t have to be a bath, it could be sitting in a dark/quiet room, sitting on the porch swing, taking a nap (yes, I said a nap).
The things that fall under boundaries could be endless. You just have to DECIDE that my sanity is worth it and put the work into coming up with those parameters. I like the quote, “We teach people how to treat us.” I think that includes the dialogue we allow about ourselves inside of our own minds. Changing what that looks and sounds like is hard. I tell most people who ask, “How did you make it on the other side of depression and anxiety (even more so when the holidays are full speed ahead)?” Some days I’m right back where I started, but most of the time it is literally one minute at a time and each minute has a lot of grace and a lot intention – intent on making it to the next minute better than the one before.
Love and hugs!! And Merry Christmas.