My goal for November was to practice gratitude.
Once again, I feel that I’m standing in front of a learning experience I didn’t expect to have. What I learned this November is that you don’t need to make a measurable change in order for you to see the change. I’m someone who is constantly striving for self-improvement, always looking for goals to set myself, and often belittling my own accomplishments.
This November, I’d say that I achieved my goal. I made gratitude a part of my everyday life. But I still feel like I didn’t make an “improvement.” Why? Because I didn’t learn some new skill or some other demonstrable factor. I’m having one of those moments where I wish I could step outside of myself and say, “Christine–you realize that because of your goal, your entire mood changed last month, right?” Yes. I realize that. And I’m, well, grateful for that. But I feel as though I didn’t accomplish much.
The holidays are wonderful in so many ways, but for every wonderful thing, the holidays also present an opportunity for stress. There’s the pressure of giving time and presents to loved ones, additional activities in your busy schedule, and perhaps some financial strain.
For me, the Christmas season has always brought on a double-edged sword of holiday cheer—I want to make the most of the season and do as many fun things as possible, but that can sometimes end up becoming a bit overwhelming. Then, if I slow down too much, I feel regret on December 26th. It’s hard to not give too much of yourself to others and the season without also missing some opportunities for joy. But you also don’t want to run yourself down and ignore your own needs.
In order to find balance, I’ve written this guide for ways you can prioritize self-care during the holidays.
It’s December 2013, and I’m sitting on the futon in my college apartment. My end-of-semester assignments are looming, and junior year is kicking my butt a little bit. I have a car, a bit of money to spare in my tiny student bank account, and something makes me say to myself, “I want to learn how to crochet.” So I drive to Walmart and buy one skein of Lion Brand Hometown USA and a hook.
So my crochet hobby didn’t exactly start in the most sentimental way. I didn’t learn from a maternal figure on a comfy couch with the smell of cookies baking in the next room. I learned from a YouTube video in an old apartment, all the while feeling guilt for all the schoolwork I wasn’t doing.
But it was this less-than-sentimental beginning that makes me want to share my story. Having this creative hobby changed my life.
When I graduated from college in 2015, I remember that one of my first thoughts was I’ll never have a summer break again. When you’ve been a student for nearly the first 22 years of your life, transitioning to working full-time year-round can be kind of daunting. Why is it that all the things that add up to the challenge of adulting only manage to reveal themselves as they require head-on confrontation? Three years into post-grad living, I’m learning that that’s life. It just keeps on coming. Then you think, Alright. Here we go. Another challenge to surmount. And then you do it.
But what happens when you get tired?