Is self-care the first thing to go as the holidays approach? For many, the answer is yes.

photo-1444220451343-9fcc0681ff8dThe holiday hustle begins, our lists grow, and we lose sight of our needs in an effort to create the perfect holiday. The result? We get worn down, making it hard to enjoy this joyous time of year.

I get it. As my oldest son’s birthday comes and goes each year, the intensity of life’s pace grows exponentially. His birthday is in mid-November and after it’s over I completely get blindsided by the holidays.

Maybe it was the holiday music playing in the stores or the abundance of Christmas decorations for sale the weekend after Halloween (?!?!), but this year I felt anxious. I felt like there was so much to do before his birthday and the holidays. Immediate stress set in.

Luckily, these days, I feel much more in tune with my body and what it’s telling me. I felt that tightness in my throat that I get when I get anxious. So, I slowed down and became aware of what I had been thinking of prior to the anxiety setting in… What was it?

Oh yeah, my to dos and that perfection and list.

photo-1431949662802-397529a8a873Once I became aware, I knew I could change course. I can set the pace.
In years past, especially last year during a tough time, self-care and my needs went far to the wayside. Who suffered? Everyone. As moms we run everything, and if we are sucked dry – what do we have left to give? And isn’t this the season of giving?

Maybe we have it all wrong.

Our intentions are good, in fact I’d say valiant. But here we are striving to give the perfect gifts, to create the best holiday memories full of our catalog worthy decorations, making ourselves stressed out and anxious in the process.

What if we slow down? What if we slow down long enough to ask ourselves what we all really want?

Deep down we know our kids, husbands, partners, family and friends just want our time, our presence, our undivided attention. They want to share belly laughs, toasts to good times and long, authentic hugs.

I like lists and I get the drive for perfection. I can easily get sucked into all of it. I have stressed myself out striving for the perfect holiday. I love decorations, baking, and gathering at holiday parties. I love all of it. There is only so much time in our days, and only so many days during the holiday months. If I stretch too thin, I stress out.

Don’t get me wrong here, if it fills you up, do it! Just try to let go of some of the holiday perfection, and set an intention for a holiday full of peace.

Keeping your self-care practice going, or even starting one, during this time of year is essential. Maintaining your overall well-being and health is what will bring intrinsic peace that you can bring with you everywhere.

“Make me an instrument of Your peace.”

                                           – Saint Francis

photo-1418833893919-fa9c83e8d69eI am making a commitment this year to stick to my self-care rituals and am going to say no to more things. I am not sure I believe there will ever be true balance… but I am learning to ride the waves and know when to coast, when to go all out, and when to take a break.

By strengthening our awareness of self, our needs and desires, we can begin to create space to fulfill those needs. We have to make it non-negotiable.

So what exactly is self-care?
The things I need for me vary from day to day. Most days I need to move, and lately this has been long walks outside which are also very meditative for me. Every day I nourish my body with wholesome foods. Some days I read. And on most days I am making space to breathe. I also believe living a life on purpose is part of self-care. I know I am here in this world to be in the service of others. I feel a strong pull to serve moms, to help them love and care for themselves and feel good about it. That feels good and what feels good, is good for you.

Will you join me in slowing down this holiday season?

Sarah from Highlands Ranch, Colo., is an exercise science and nutrition maven and mom who’s passionate about eating nourishing foods and being active every day. Read her blog, Life Powered by Mom and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.