Reclaiming Joy During the Holiday Season

Reclaiming Joy During the Holiday Season

Over the weekend I watched he same Best Buy Christmas commercial 87 times. Not on purpose, Hulu just likes to repeat the commercials. By the 900th time seeing the same commercial, my inner scrooge came out. The commercial was so materialistic. Everyone was opening expensive and fancy presents. The narrator stressed the importance of last minute gift buying.

I get it, I’ve still got some last minute stocking stuffers to buy, too. And with gift giving being my love language, I’m all about this holiday season. Mr. M usually has to hold me back because I want to buy Christmas presents for EVERYONE. And our budget only supports our close family – and those are even Secret Santa gift exchanges. (We have nine siblings between the two of us!)

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love the hustle and bustle; I love the Christmas music, the holiday parties, and the joy.

But in the stress of gift buying, scheduling life around holiday parties and family functions, it’s easy to lose sight of our joy.

For the first time in my life, I found myself sitting on the couch, staring at our Christmas tree, and only seeing the presents cluttered around. I dreamed of putting away the Christmas tree and putting a book case in its place. This is a very different attitude from the girl who was sad about taking down the tree before she had even put it up. Granted, Mr. M and I have spent (and will spend) all but one night out doing something until New Year’s Eve Weekend.

The busyness of the holiday season can take a toll on our minds and our bodies. So this week, I’m reclaiming joy.

Reclaiming Joy During the Holiday Season

Find Silence 

While I was watching said Best Buy commercial, I got increasingly annoyed by the materialistic chaos. There were flashing lights, there were cats on robots. There was countdown, wrestling music. (I don’t know if it was truly wrestling music, but I imagine it’s what the UFC fighters listen to to pump up.) Instead, I’m going to cherish the few moments of silence we get.

I was thinking about the song, “Silent Night.” All is calm, all is bright. Christmas doesn’t have to be chaotic. It is as chaotic as we allow ourselves to be. Even in the midst of chaos, we can find a moment to center ourselves around peace.

Enjoy Presence

Like I said before, gifts are my love language. I feel the most loved when my husband brings home one of my favorite foods, or when a friend buys me a cup of coffee. So when Christmas rolls around, I’m all about the gift giving and gift receiving. But gifts are not the purpose of the holidays. This is a time to love on people you don’t always see. This weekend Mr. M and I are holing ourselves up in a cabin with 30 people (and this is just his family) and then next week we’re settling into my parents mountain home (it looks like a log cabin on the inside and I just love it) with 20-30 more people (and that’s just my family!)

As an adult, I am of course excited about the presents, but I’m more excited about the presence of family members I only get to see once or twice a year.

Remembering Reverence

I love evening Christmas Eve services: the air is filled with music, it is  holy, worshipful, and there is a reverence in the air. Because I am such a fanatic about all things commercially Christmas: the movies, Santa, the trees, it’s important to me that I also take a moment each day to remember why we celebrate Christmas. I love following along with She Reads Truth’s Advent Study. It is a time I get to take each day to quiet down, settle my soul, and focus on my Savior who came in the form of a baby to eventually die and be resurrected for our sins.

What are some ways you take care of yourself during the holidays?

Reclaiming JOY During the Holiday Season

Check out my calm, quiet Christmas playlist that has been on repeat this season!

Be Kind to Yourself

Be Kind to Yourself

Self-care posts on the internet are a dime a dozen. Each and every person has their own strategy to establish and implement self care. I even have ’em. Face masks at night, reading a good book, going on a walk, etc.

But perhaps the most important self care tip I have to reiterate to myself is kindness.

I am a bit of a perfectionist. Don’t do the white glove test at my house – because I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning. But when it comes to doing it all and being the best I can be, I leave little room for grace.

I overload my weekends with chores. I make a to-do list that is impossible to accomplish, and then on Sunday night when I’ve done nothing out of the twenty, I feel overwhelmed. It’s hard to even start when there is so much to do.

Be Kind to Yourself

Monday’s are my favorite days in the office. I go into work with my coffee and I sit down, schedule out a few things, and open up my email, and then make a to do list. Sometimes the list is incredibly long. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but like my dad always says – you’ve gotta eat your pancakes. You eat that elephant one bite at a time. etc.

Unless of course, your body says no.

I woke up from an unexpected two hour nap at 6pm. On a Sunday night. I You know what my Sunday night plans were? To cross off all the chores on my to-do list because I hadn’t been at my house long enough to do more than sleep in a week. My pancake stack was 50 pancakes high. Clothes were everywhere (they’re mine.) Books were everywhere (also mine.) And what was one my pristine office is suddenly overflowing with STUFF. For someone who has been on a material purge lately, I turn around and stuff is still everywhere.

But instead I accidentally took a nap. I never nap. So when I fall asleep unexpectedly, I know it’s my body telling me I need more rest. Rather than be annoyed that I accomplished nothing, I have to allow myself that space. If my body says, “SLOW DOWN YOU ARE TIRED” then I have to slow down. I spent a collective 30 hours driving in a car last week, battled a sinus infection/cold, spoke on a panel and attended two fundraising dinners. Without stopping. There was a lot going on.

I just want to insert a shout out here to all my mom-friends. I don’t know how you do it. I’m so whiny when I’m tired, and I know the tired I experience is not anywhere close to the sleep deprived exhaustion you face every day. Y’all are the real MVPs.

What I’m saying is this: keep yourself healthy. Listen to your soul. Does your soul need a social media break? Does your soul need a mental health day? Listen to your body. Does your body need broccoli? Does your body need a nap? If you can’t take care of your soul and your body, you can’t be kind to yourself. You can’t be 100% there for your friends and family. You can’t 100% enjoy your life.

So be kind to yourself. Throw away the to do list and take a nap. (Or just put the to do list off to the side until later.)

Be Kind to Yourself

2 Little Ways to Breathe Easier this Week

do 1 important thing

Millennials are the generation of self-care. We believe in self-care because we believe that in order to raise to our full potential, we have to take care of ourselves. What a foreign thought. You’ll read self-help and self-care blogs that say lots of things. Drink water first thing in the morning, do a face mask in the evening. Eat healthy. Put down those french fries (NEVER!) You get the gist. But I have a new idea and it involves procrastination.

Implement Little Things Throughout Your Day

In the summers at my job I get half days on Fridays. It’s an amazing morale booster. I can’t believe how I ever do anything working 8-5 M-F during the rest of the three seasons because I get so much done on those half day Fridays. Granted, the first two half days or so I spend lazing on the couch watching Netflix. But then the rest of the summer I ban myself from Netflix and make myself do something productive and I never regret it.

I’m the type of person to get quickly overwhelmed by chores, mess and chaos when there is already a lot going on in my life. I’ve started implementing little things throughout my day to make the rest of my life more enjoyable.

i.e. Making the bed in the morning – I am much more likely to keep a clean bedroom if our bed is already made. Or I will do the dishes right after a meal rather than letting them pile up and doing them at the end of the day. When I let the dishes pile, I get overwhelmed by the amount and procrastinate which creates more dishes. . . and more dishes. . . and more. . . and you know how it goes. Suddenly I’m spending an hour scrubbing oatmeal off yesterday’s breakfast dish and I’m not a happy person.

By implementing these little things that I’m doing throughout my day and throughout my week, I find that I have the brain space and energy to accomplish the bigger tasks.

do 1 important thing

Accomplish the Bigger Tasks

There have been 2 chores on my monthly goal list since January that didn’t get accomplished until this month. I eventually stopped putting them on my to-do list because I was so frustrated that I couldn’t carve out the time to get it done.

Our dining room and office both looked like the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. There were wedding gifts (that still) needed to be returned, items that needed to be taken to the local thrift store, etc. It was such an overwhelming venture that I kept putting it off and putting it off until one day I just decided I have to do it. I didn’t try to do both of them at once. Instead, one day in a frenzy, I cleared off our dining room table that hadn’t been used since we got married one night when I realized we needed more eating space. I piled everything that needed to be sorted through and made the room look semi-decent. That allowed me to go back into the room a few days later and knock everything out in 4 Gilmore Girls episodes.

With the dining room cleared, I gained momentum. This weekend I coerced my husband with a few episodes of our favorite TV show and ice cream as a reward to go through paper piles with me in our office. Now all I have to do is go in there on another day and clear out the stuff that needs to go into storage or to the local thrift store. It is a huge task if I try to do it all in one fell swoop, but I break it up by doing one important thing in each day.

Do 1 Important Thing

When I do one important thing, I waltz into the next day feeling relaxed and motivated to do something else. It’s amazing how the momentum keeps going! Rather than stockpile and procrastinate like I tend to do, I’ve noticed that doing one important thing each day gives me the space to breathe. Some days it’s cleaning out an entire room, some days it’s dusting the furniture in the whole house. Other days it’s taking a bubble bath and reading a good book or spending some quiet time journaling.

Whatever your one important thing is, stop procrastinate. Like Shia LeBeouf says, JUST DO IT.

2 Ways to Breathe Easier this Week

5 Cheap, Easy Ways to Treat Yo Self

I am a big fan of rewarding myself for the little things in life. For instance, yesterday I really had to go to the bathroom whilst I was sitting very still and not looking at my phone and typing out my preliminary work for my portfolio. I told myself that once I finished my tenth bullet point that I could go to the bathroom. A bathroom break had never been so exciting. 
I think it’s very important to self-indulge sometimes, beyond bathroom breaks and beyond that exciting cuppa joe in the mornings. Although, I do find immense joy in a well-brewed morning coffee. Therefore, I think I will change “cuppa joe” to “cuppa joy” in my life. 
If you’re like me, you might only have $10 for the rest of the month. (Eek!) 
So here are 5 easy and cheap ways to . . .
1. Bubble baths. I would never take a shower ever again if I could take a bubble bath everyday. For me, bubble baths are exceptionally special because I only have a shower in my apartment. I’m so lazy I hate taking showers because I hate standing that long. Sometimes I sit in the shower, but then I get cold because there’s always a tiny frigid draft that escapes through the curtain. So when I go home, I always try to reserve time for a bubble bath. And if I have extra time, I take the bubble bath in my mom’s jacuzzi. Life goals: Own a house with a jacuzzi.
2. Book therapy. I can count on one hand the times I have personally bought from Barnes and Noble. My preference is second hand book stores, and for multiple reasons. 1) They are cheaper. 2) Most books have that old book smell. 3) They have an extra story. They were owned once; maybe they were loved and lost. Maybe they were hated and tossed. Second hand books have extra character to me. Score if someone has already highlighted and written in the margins. It’s like eavesdropping on a conversation someone once had with himself.
3. Working out. Okay, so you may not think that working out is a very good way to treat yourself, but think of all the endorphins that will swarm you afterwards! Endorphins make people happy, and happy people just don’t kill their husbands. Spare a life, and work out. 
4. Lattes. It is my goal to have my own espresso machine, but for now I settle for espresso machines from friends, and $4 lattes from local coffee shops. I will go to Starbucks when I have gift cards, but there is a coffee shop in my area that has a much more happy atmosphere, as well as real coffee. Lattes are like little hugs to yourself. My new personal favorite is a cinnamon mocha. I don’t like a lot of cinnamon, but just a hint of spice goes a long way. Another great one: cinnamon and honey. If they don’t use syrup, then it is way healthier than all the sugary lattes you can get. And a healthier you = a happier you. 
5. Take a hike! All you need is a pair of sturdy shoes and a good conversationalist and boom! You’re set. Being out in nature, in the brisk air (or hot air if you live somewhere warm. If you live somewhere warm, #jealous) does something to boost morale. Your body needs that Vitamin D.
I’ll admit, sometimes I will use a Netflix binge as a way to treat myself, but after watching 7 straight episodes of Friends, I really begin to hate myself. I sit up, groggy, with a headache, and with a desire to never scroll through Instagram again for three hours (because lezbehonest, do we ever just straight *sit* and watch a TV show nowadays? No.) So these five ways to cheaply treat yourself are not only fun, but are healthy for your mind, body, and spirit. 
Now tell me, what do you do to treat yourself?