Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays

By Liz Erlich, LGPC

During the holidays it can often feel like your regular life has been put on pause as you scramble to get all of the preparations just so.  While this resonates for all of the holidays, I find it to be especially true in the weeks before Passover arrives. With the countdown to get ready, we often have to take a break from our routine—regular workouts, time spent reading at night, or give up our weekly coffee date with girlfriends—many of the activities from which we usually derive energy and renewal. Instead, we seem to run on auto-pilot, “doing,” but not really feeling present. We still drive car pool, work at our jobs, and manage to run our households.  But now, on top of our normal routines, we’re engaging in a major housecleaning, making multiple runs to the grocery store, and embarking on cooking a feast for our extended families.

Have we placed these expectations on ourselves, or are we continuing to play an old record on auto-play, one that has outlived its practicality? How do our lifestyle and responsibilities in today’s day and age differ from our grandmother’s or even our mother’s?

How much do we really need to take on ourselves? Is it OK to cut corners?  You might consider making three side dishes for dinner instead of five, or taking a guest up on her offer to bring a dish. Are you able to delegate some tasks to the family, such as having the children clean the pantry and asking your husband to do the food shopping? You can even make it fun and educational for the kids by asking them to help with setting the table, making place cards for the guests, or preparing the Seder plate.

If you’re not ready to let go of the reins just yet, consider the toll that stress takes on us physically and emotionally, and how the fatigue and strain linger, even when the work is finished.

It’s particularly important to schedule in some time for yourself during this busy season. You are your own best tool and if you are not functioning at your best, you can’t truly be there for others.

Here are some suggestions:

• Carve out time to take a bath, go for a walk, get a manicure – whatever will give you some peace, quiet and renewal.
• Practice staying mindful, observing your thoughts without judgment, and breathe through any stress that may arise.
• Continue to stay connected to friends and family through phone calls and emails, even if you don’t have the time to see them face to face before the holiday.

By sharing the work of holiday preparations and taking care of yourself, you will reduce the stress.  The result? When Passover finally arrives, you will be better able to appreciate the true meaning of the holiday and enjoy the festivities with your family and friends.

By Liz Erlich, LGPC, Access/Intake Manager, Jewish Community Services, Baltimore, MD

To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles, visit http://www.jcsbaltimore.org or call 410-466-9200.  Jewish Community Services is an agency of THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

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