holiday season Archives - Dr. Mary Pritchard

I Give You Permission to Slow Down

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As I write this, we have just entered the final month of the year: December. December always brings mixed feelings for me: on the one hand, I love the smell of Winter in the air, seeing all of the holiday lights, and Christmas Break. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of cold weather, there’s often a sense of sadness as this was my father’s favorite holiday and I cannot celebrate it with him except in spirit, and the holidays can feel a bit frenetic at times.

At a time when you may be feeling pressured to amp things up, I’d like to ask you a question:

I know you may be thinking, “I can’t slow down; I’ve got too much to do!” So here’s my next set of questions for you: “Do these things really need to be done? Do you need to be the one to do them?” In other words, what can you take off of your plate right now? You might be concerned about letting people down or that if you don’t do it, no one will. I get it; I’ve been there.

A few years ago I decided to stop decorating for the holidays. As much as I loved seeing all the holiday décor, I was so busy that I was rarely around to enjoy it and getting the house all decked out ended up just adding more stress to my holiday season. So I stopped. No one else picked up the slack, but it was okay. My neighbors still decorate and I can enjoy their holiday lights and décor as I walk my dog every morning. I also started limiting the number of holiday gathering I attended to one per week. Yes, you may let some people down if you say no to their party invitation, but if attending all of those holiday parties is adding more stress to your day, then is it really worth it? I find that I enjoy myself a lot more if I take the pressure off of attending everything and really show up and be present to enjoy the festivities I do choose to attend.

Here’s the thing:

Yes, “things” need to get done, but I’m guessing some of them can be delegated to someone else or put off until the holidays are over. For the things that you personally need to do, can you still do those things with more presence and mindfulness so you can enjoy them more? Can you get off the hamster wheel and go at a slower pace?

One of the things that helps me remember to go a little slower as the holiday season ramps up is Woman Unleashed online retreat. This is our 7th season with Woman Unleashed – I have been a speaker and participant for each of those 7 retreats because I love it so much and I learn something new every time. Woman Unleashed helps me remember to pause, to breathe, to take care of me despite the busyness of the holiday season. I hope you’ll join us and take a little breather to take care of you this holiday season.

Much love!


Make Time for Self-Care this Holiday Season

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This semester has been one of the most stressful semesters in my 20 years of teaching, and it’s provided numerous lessons in finding balance, having patience, and remembering to breathe through life’s little struggles. One of the biggest lessons it’s given me is reminding me of the importance of keeping me at the top of my priority list and scheduling time for self-care.

It’s so easy to forget to put ourselves on our priority list, isn’t it? We get caught up in other people’s problems, drama, and life in general, that we sometimes put everything but self-care on our to-do list. But, if you’re anything like me, lack of self-care equals crazy making. While it may seem that “I would get so much more done if I skipped [insert your self-care plan for the day],” the reality is that you wouldn’t. The days that I find myself skipping my morning power hour (of walking, meditating, and journaling) tend to be some of my least productive and most stressful days. Yet, sometimes when I wake up, I think to myself, “I should skip my morning power hour and just dive right in.”

Then I remember to breathe and remind myself that I am no good to anyone if I skip my self-care. You have to keep your cup full – after all, you cannot serve from your own reserves or you will very quickly find yourself depleted, with nothing left to give. This is especially important to remember as we head into the holiday season.

But when you already have too much on your plate, how do you carve out time for you? Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:

  • Ask for help – whether it’s a big project at work or Thanksgiving dinner, it’s okay to ask for help. Sometimes people are just waiting for their cue that their help is wanted and needed. For example, a few years ago, I started doing my holiday celebrations potluck style. Yes, that meant I didn’t have control over how the mashed potatoes turned out, but it took a lot of the stress off my plate and my friends enjoyed bringing and sharing their favorite holiday dishes with everyone else.
  • Go for the minimalist approach – As a recovering perfectionist, this one can be challenging for me, but a few years ago, I learned a wonderful phrase: “That’ll do.” You know what happens when you make enough for 50 and only 10 show, right? You have leftovers for weeks that eventually go bad and you have to toss half of it out anyway. And you get really sick of turkey – or whatever you made. Here’s a new approach: if you expect 10, cook for 10. Not 50, 20, or even 12. There will still be plenty to go around even if 12 show and you’ll save a few dollars in the process and waste a lot less. And while you’re at, no your decorations don’t need to perfect and no one will really notice if there are a few lumps in your mashed potatoes (and even if they do, who cares?).
  • Presentation is not everything – Yes, you can decorate your platter with fresh flowers and add decorative swirls of chocolate on your dessert plate, but here’s the thing: no one cares what it looks like as long as it tastes good. The hours you spent prepping the ‘perfect presentation’ may get appreciate for 5 seconds and then it will be ignored, eaten, or destroyed. Thus, it’s not worth your time. Trust me on this one. Time with loved ones is more important than time away from loved ones to prepare the perfect plate.
  • Prioritize – what’s really important to you? If having a Martha-Stewart-worthy table is something you truly enjoy doing and value, then by all means, decorate! But if you’re only decorating because you feel like you ‘should,’ then skip it. If you feel you simply must, but don’t want to go to the trouble of decorating, go low maintenance and buy some premade table decorations or one of those little pre-decorated table trees that are a foot or so tall. But, if you’re like me, you may decide to just skip the decorations in favor of giving yourself a little breathing room.
  • Take care of you – every single morning, ask yourself, “What do I need to do for me today?” Then go do it. Right now before you forget or life gets in the way. You are worth this and you will find yourself in a much better mood and more productive when you make time to take care of you. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate thing or take all that long, but you’ve got to fill your cup. Every. Single. Day.

I hope you find time to take care of you and are able to enjoy your holiday season a little more this year. Yes, it only comes once a year, but that doesn’t mean it has to be picture perfect. Always remember: there’s no such thing as perfect, and thankfully, this only comes once a year!