Carrying on from last month’s article about “self-care”, I wanted to talk about ‘time’, because how we spend it has a big impact on our mental health and happiness. This is the time of year where the days begin to slip away from us faster than ever and we find ourselves hurtling towards the end of the year with a jam packed schedule that is exhausting to think about. There just never seems like enough time at the moment and it can be overwhelming as well as hard to find the festive joy amongst all the chaos. Even though it is the “holiday season”, this is also easily one of the most stressful times of year for a number of reasons, one of them being how we spend our time.
In light of that, this year I have decided to gift myself complete and free rein over how I spend my time during these next few weeks and I will not feel guilty about it. It is not an easy thing to do because it will mean saying no a lot, which can feel uncomfortable, but I don’t want to spend the last month of a pretty stressful year feeling run down under the weight of social obligations and expectations. I want to relax, reflect and decompress from it all and I can’t do that if I’m allowing my time to be filled up by pleasing and fulfilling the needs of other people.
I know for some people this time of year is the ultimate party season and I have definitely spent more than a few Decembers happily dashing from one event to another, but this year I just don’t have the energy or inclination. I want to stay in, watch Netflix, drink wine, eat yummy comfort food and get a good night’s sleep. I’ve always been more of a home-body and this Christmas I refuse to apologize for it or be made to feel like a party pooper because I’m already in my pyjamas at 6pm drinking spiked hot chocolate on a Friday night. This is happiness to me right now and being honest about it and not feeling guilty is liberating.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how we as women use our voices and the fear that seems to be ingrained in so many of us when we say no or simply want to take charge of our time. There is so much pressure on women to say yes and devote our time to others in big ways as well as seemingly every day small ones. How many of you have felt unable to say no to an invitation from a friend because you don’t want to upset them, or have gone to a dinner/party/event even though you really didn’t want to because you didn’t feel comfortable cancelling? I’ve done it many times and I have definitely felt pressured to say yes and give up my time in order to avoid disappointing family, friends or colleagues.
This is why time is probably one of the biggest factors when it comes to self-care. It’s all about making the time, spending time and taking time out to focus on your own wellbeing and happiness. Free time is pretty hard to come by over the holidays, but that is exactly why when we have some we should spend it exactly how we want. It’s OK to say no to a night out in favour of staying in and reading a book or watching a movie. It is also perfectly acceptable to say yes to getting an early night instead of going to yet another Christmas dinner. I’ve already started politely, but firmly saying no to some invitations and events, and after I got over the initial saying no anxiety, I feel much better for doing it.
It seems “normal” for women to constantly be the ones putting themselves last during the holidays, but it shouldn’t be that way. This has been a particularly rough year for women politically, socially and in the media and all of us should be doing whatever we can to enjoy the last month of it as much as possible. For me that simply means taking control of my time and I am guessing that for many of you it will be the same. Staying in feels like the ultimate luxury when there’s so much going on and I intend to fully enjoy every night I choose to spend in the comfort of my home guilt free and I hope you will too.