Get more freedom by protecting your energy these holidaysDec 10, 2023
I was recently asked if I’m an introvert or an extrovert because I was explaining how I need to recharge after family or social events. And the truth is, while I present as a through-and-through extrovert, I was ridiculously introverted as a kid. I was shy and quiet outside of my family home in settings like school and social gatherings, I loved reading and would spend hours lost in books and would get told off for being anti-social when I snuck one along to a social event, and right up until the end of high school I actually hated talking in groups of more than 2-3 people and loathed public speaking (I reveal all this and how I overcame my fears in my Bonus Module - Presenting Like a Pro in my Leading Successful Change program).
I actively chose to become more extroverted when I got to university but it took effort and sheer willpower so I would actually call myself an “ambivert” nowadays: I love people, enjoy presenting, have fun in groups and at social events, but absolutely still need to rest and recharge after too much external stimulation.
So that brings us to the holiday period. Enter: sheer exhaustion. Last year, my partner had a liver transplant and I had a family-filled December and New Year which I loved but I was absolutely shattered by the end of. Over the years, I’ve developed some nifty tips and tricks for protecting my energy in a polite and powerful way to reclaim my freedom, so I thought I’d share some of them with you today to perhaps inspire you or give you permission to hold your boundaries when needed these holidays.
Choose a family-free holiday period
The holidays can be filled with familial expectations that you’ll be everywhere for everyone, or tag team between your own family and in-laws each year or even within the same day! Don’t get me wrong - I love both of our families, but I don’t like kids, don’t have kids, don’t want kids, and don’t plan to ever have kids. So when Christmas at either family home involves children, I’m often stuck between a rock and a hard place. A few years back, my partner and I decided to have a family-free holiday period. We rented a simple AirBnb on the beach, packed up the car (a mini trampoline went in there!), and enjoyed a quiet Christmas just the two of us. The next day my sister and her family came by for a Boxing Day picnic, and friends came around for New Years and we went to a local Thai restaurant for dinner, but it was so nice and so blissful to just have Christmas with the two of us, and spend two weeks chilling away from everyone. We’re doing the same again this year but we’re staying at home and planning a few beach days - my partner ordered a beach trolley so big I think I fit in it! You are totally allowed to alternate in a family-free holiday one year, and in fact most Christmases as a kid we just celebrated Christmas Day with our own family without relatives and in-laws, so maybe that’s where I picked it up from.
Take solo time to recharge your soul
Last holidays I was a little frazzled and overstimulated and needed to reconnect to my own personal passions and interests. I’m an absolute foodie and the beach town that my parents live in has the top-rated regional restaurant that I’d not yet been to. So I decided whimsically one day to just book myself in one night for a degustation-for-one. Ok, so they were booked out but I was determined to get my food lover’s experience so I put myself on the waitlist and huzzah! A table came up for that night. I literally had 30 minutes to shower and change, throw on make up and drive down but come hell or high water, I was going to make this dinner sitting. I sat at the bar for 4 lazy hours overlooking the magical dance of a fine dining kitchen, the perfectly placed portions being plated up and checked twice, and the array of dazzling dishes served up to little old me on my solo lonesome. It was exactly what I needed, and not only did I feel full afterwards, I also felt FUL-filled too. Whether it’s a solo dining degustation, a beach walk, sitting in your car watching a cheesy Netflix movie on your phone... if you need to take down time on your own - take it!
Create your own gifts
One of the other big pressures of the holiday period can be the expectation to ideate, find and buy the BEST gifts for every single person. Gift giving is big in my family, and I swear giving gifts is my love language but I only like to give a gift if it is something the person wants, something they need but don’t know it, or something symbolic and meaningful, no matter how simple. But when you get to my millennial age most people have the money to buy what they want, gift giving becomes a bit meaningless, and the pressure can feel frustrating. So I like to gift in batches some years and bonus points for getting crafty. One year I pulled together a sustainability self-care pack for all my sisters and friends with washable period panties, reusable bamboo make up pads, a silicone foundation blending pad, and a bamboo toothbrush, along with a Canva-made card that explained each item and the HILARIOUS tagline “You’re sexy and you snow it!” (oh yes, I couldn’t stop laughing). Another year, I made popcorn spice for all my colleagues. Another year, I took the recipes and my photos and notes from my one-week cooking course in France and turned it into a cookbook that I got printed and posted to friends and family. As well as being meaningful, these crafty gifts are often cost-effective and super easy because you can create them in bulk, reducing decision fatigue and racing around to different stores or online sites for each person’s individual present.
It’s easy to throw exercise and fitness out the window over the holidays due to house parties and hangovers and feeling like your time is not your own. But I find that if I keep moving, whether that’s walking, yoga, swimming or more, I’m able to maintain my energy better with all the rich food around slugging up my metabolism (I don’t drink anymore). It might not be much, just 30 minutes here and there but if that’s what you need to stay sane and energised, carve it out and keep doing it… Bonus points for turning it into solo time!
Listen to your body and your heart
On New Year’s Day this year, I felt throughout my entire body that I needed to go home. I was meant to spend another day or two at my folks’ place and I was so worried about seeming rude or selfish if I left early. But it had been a big year, it had been a busy holiday period, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed to listen to my body and listen to my heart and make my way home. I bravely communicated my decision, packed up my belongings, and left. As I drove south along the highway through the hinterland of Byron Bay at sunrise, I felt a wave of sheer and utter peace wash over me. I felt like I could breathe. I felt like I could hear my own thoughts. I put on an audiobook, and saw the sun breaking through the clouds and a rainbow happily hanging out on the horizon. I feel like if mermaids existed, they’d be singing and cheering me on from the waves, and angelic harp music would filter down through the sun rays onto my car as I made my silent escape. I think the joy really stemmed from owning what I wanted and holding my boundaries - because it’s just so hard often for us to do this, especially as women.
I hope these ideas and stories and examples inspire you these holidays to remember the “you” in yuletide, whatever you celebrate, and to reclaim your freedom by protecting your energy with these simple boundary-setting techniques. 2024 is just around the corner - start it off on the right foot by putting yourself first and building your confidence to follow through.
This will be my last Change Inspiration newsletter for 2023 so you’ll see me again in your inbox in the New Year.
There’s still time to download my free 2023 Reflection Journal and maybe some of these reflections will help you work out your plan for protecting your energy these holidays.
Talk to you in 2024 rockstar!
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