Not So Jolly After All?

By Lisa W.

Christmas is wonderful, isn’t it? Colorful lights glimmer in the street, the smell of cookies consume the kitchen, and friends and family fill your home as Michael Buble plays from the speakers. Christmas truly is wonderful; but then, just like that, it’s over.  Now, that sucks! The lights come down, decorations are boxed away, and kids go back to school. If you live in the Midwest, like I do, this also means at least three more months of gloomy, cold weather and the sun setting before dinnertime.  All of a sudden, you’re feeling… well, not so holly jolly. It’s no wonder so many people experience the winter blues. For some people, this means sinking into a funk, feeling less cheerful, or even struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Regardless of the severity, it’s important to know you’re not suffering alone. One way we can begin to tackle these dreary feelings is to start prioritizing self-care.

I know what you’re thinking, “We are already busy women, how can we possibly add more to our list of Things to Do?” Working stressful jobs, caring for families, and keeping up with daily chores cause women to be BUSY! On top of it all, our culture sends mixed signals. We are preached the importance of loving ourselves, but feel pressured into always agreeing to the unexpected project or going the extra mile.  Thus, piling as much on our plate as possible. 

I often hear women express feelings of guilt for spending time engaging in self-care, believing they could be more productive by completing another chore, sending another email… the list goes on. But, trust me, time spent healing yourself is far more valuable. When you feel well cared for, you become a better mother, friend, employee, wife, etc. Say it with me: “You can’t pour from an empty cup!” Let’s dive into simple ways you can start paying attention to what your heart and soul may be craving.

What does Self Care Look Like?

First, we need to consider that self-care looks different for everyone. Sure, it would be wonderful if we could all gather at the spa for massages and manicures every day; but my couch ran out of spare quarters months ago and no one has time for that. Self-care comes in many different forms and we want to find what’s best for YOU!

Introvert or Extrovert? What do I need?

Let’s consider whether you are in introvert or extrovert. This question is not asking if you are outgoing or shy, a common misconception. Instead, these terms point at how we recharge. After a long day, do you crave alone time or socializing? Do you feel more energized after taking a quiet bath or after engaging in conversation? Your answer will help determine what you may need to shake those winter blues. If you’re finding it difficult to determine whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, consider most people have characteristics from both categories and they are not mutually exclusive. Instead, consider when you generally feel most energized and recharged:  is it after spending time by yourself or with others?

Self Care for Introverts

Generally speaking, introverts need quiet, freedom, and space to feel rested. This need is opposite from the social demands of the holiday, especially with all that small talk. Being an introvert does NOT mean you’re antisocial, this just means you often feel drained after spending long periods of time with people. The key to recharging is to start small and to set realistic goals. Consider reading a book, taking a walk alone, pouring a warm bath, starting a new Pinterest craft, working out, meditating, spending time with your pet, or even just closing the door and taking a long shower. It can be as simple as listening to calming music on your way to work. The point is to intentionally engage in an activity that feeds your mind, body, and/or soul.

Self Care for Extroverts

In contrast, extroverts crave human contact, interesting interactions, and enthusiasm. Self-care for extroverts generally involves going to a social setting; for example,  grabbing coffee with a friend or phoning a family member. Consider volunteering, walking around at the mall, chatting with your barista, or joining clubs/organizations. It can also be very small, simple gestures throughout the day such as smiling at a stranger or chit chatting with someone at the store. Keep in mind, extroverts also need alone time on various occasions, but is not as necessary. 

Making It Happen

Now, let’s discuss the difficult part, applying this concept to your own life. Prioritizing yourself takes time and practice. It also takes experimenting to discover what activities suit you. Finally, it means saying “no” in order to preserve time for you. I would also encourage stepping away from your phone while engaging in self-care. Very rarely do I find myself thinking, “Wow! I feel so much better now that I’ve creeped on celebrities for an hour!” A large part of self-care is separating yourself from the demands of the world and focusing on what your mind and body desires. Our daily demands are important, they always will be, but we need to be recharged, fueled, and well cared for in order to face these demands with our best foot forward!

Please join this conversation with me! I want to know what self-care looks like for you. How did you determine the importance of self-care in your life? Comment below to help women like you and I feel empowered to prioritize self-care.

3 thoughts on “Not So Jolly After All?

  1. This is an area where I struggle. Caring for aging parents and their health issues as well as my own family does not leave much spare time. Thank you for your words of encouragement. I need to make this a priority in my life. Taking those first steps and getting started is the hardest part. I will keep watching for how others have accomplished this.

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    1. Thank you for sharing! You truly have so many important demands right now. Not to mention the heavy emotional component each of these demands bring… (I’ve watched my parents care for their aging parents and it is a very hard chapter of life). You are practically taking on the role of Superwoman for your kinds, husband, and parents all at the same time.
      Like you mentioned, taking that first step is the hardest part. I’d encourage you to start small. Maybe wake up 20 minutes earlier than usual and spend that time reading or diving into a devotional (do this before even getting out of bed because once you get up, you can easily convince yourself to prioritize other daily tasks).
      Or maybe find a Podcast that encourages and uplifts you and be sure to play it whenever you’re in your car.
      Another idea is to start a simple journal where you write down two good things that happened that day (keep the journal in your nightstand and jot down the good moments right before bed).
      I know it doesn’t seem like much, but the little moments matter. These are simple ways to prioritize your mental health and care for your heart amongst a busy season of life!
      Sending you love!!

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