Wow, we’re in the thick of it right now, aren’t we? The “holidaze” are in full swing and by now, we may be feeling the effects: We’re extra tired, overwhelmed to the core and generally feel like a great, big overextended mess.
Last week, I discussed how self-care can be an effective tool to combat holiday overscheduling (the week before that I talked about self-care and holiday overeating).
This week, I’ve promised to discuss holiday overspending. I know it’s something many of us struggle with and I know self-care can offer important relief. But as I thought through how to break this one down, I’ve honestly been feeling a bit stuck.
The issue is that I err on the other side: I underspend during the holidays to the point where I can feel a bit Scrooge-like at times. While I do my best to maintain some holiday cheer, internally, I scoff that we’ve made the beautiful solstice holidays about consumerism. While others shop and shop, I secretly count the days until the season is over.
My bank account may stay stable, but I know I often miss out on the merriment that comes with the season. In a moment of extreme darkness, we come together to share generosity. This is a lovely thing, and something I cherished as a child and see in the eyes of others as they carefully select their gifts. Yet, because I often choose to abstain, I don’t fully join into the uplifted energy of the holiday season.
Others out there find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum. They love the gift-giving of the holidays. They spend extra time, energy and money finding the perfect thing for everyone in their lives. Sometimes their generosity is reciprocated and sometimes it isn’t (perhaps by someone like me!).
But by the new year, they often feel overdrawn in a few different ways. Once again, they’ve gone overboard and given too much. Now, they have to face the coming year trying to dig themselves out of debt, whether financial or energetic or both.
Regardless of where we land on the gift-giving spectrum, we can all use a little extra loving self-care to help us find our appropriate balance of being generous and responsible. If you’re struggling with either overspending or underspending, use this self-love script to come back to the center that helps you enjoy this season authentically.
Self-Love Script for “Holidaze” Spending:
"Ok, it’s this time of year again. There’s a lot of pressure on me to buy presents. The commercials are screaming that caring equals spending, and I just know my family has gone overboard on buying gifts again. Let me take a deep breath and sit for a moment to figure out how I feel about giving gifts this holiday. In my heart, I know that giving lots of presents doesn’t make me a good person, and likewise, choosing to give fewer presents doesn’t make me a good person. What I can do is trust in how much feels right to give. Maybe I want to get my mom something amazing this year but will skip giving gifts to my coworkers. Perhaps I want to go overboard with everyone and enjoy the feeling of it all. Or I could skip all the presents and give a big gift to charity. Or maybe I want to do nothing at all and feel ok about it. The most important thing is to take all the shame out of my actions. I deserve self-love, whether or not I go into debt or seem stingy to others. The holidays are an interesting moment of time to observe my inclinations toward spending. When I meet these instincts with gentle awareness, I can learn about myself and find a way to be generous this holiday in a way that feels authentic to me."
Self Care 101 Nudge:
Do you have trouble setting limits around giving to others? Do you turn to online shopping when you’ve had a hard day? Or, do you worry that you’re a bad person because giving to others is so hard for you?
Spending, just like any other activity, can be used in a fulfilling way or it can turn into a form of compulsion. Buying something or choosing to deny ourselves something can both unlock a powerful hit of dopamine (a pleasure chemical) in our brains.
Unlike other compulsion, like eating or drinking, we don’t really have a vocabulary for the addictive feeling that spending money can evoke.
When these compulsions do arise, we can feel like we’re suffering alone. We think something is broken in our relationship with money, and deeper than that, in ourselves.
In order to find the right balance in our material life, we have to find the right balance inside of ourselves. If we don’t feel good about ourselves as people, we may try to overcompensate with material goods. This could mean buying way too much, or conversely, getting rid of our material possessions as a way to feel better.
Real self-care helps us find a balanced relationship inside of ourselves so we can create a healthy relationship with spending money. It shows us the inherent goodness at our core and teaches us how to spend responsibly from this place. Without self-care, setting healthy limits in our spending can feel almost impossible.
If you’re craving these healthy limits, Self Care 101 will help you. This winter, 20 amazing women will take 10 weeks to create a real transformation. Together, we will cheer each other on to greater balance - both internally and externally.
Want to learn more about practicing self-care in a supportive community? Fill out this application to connect with me about joining the next course.
That’s all for now! Next week, I’ll share my secrets for dealing with difficult family dynamics during the holidays. Yes, self-care can even help you with that incredibly hard one: caring too much for the people we love.
Be well ‘til then!
1. For overspenders: Watch this great documentary on the art of gleaning. See how a thrifty subset of people around the world prefer to do more with less. Learning about gleaning has helped me understanding my relationship with consumption and take pride in my preference for thrifting my way through life.
2. For underspenders: Splurge a little! I suggest checking out this beautiful Swedish line of body-positive, gorgeous clothing. I particularly love their take on creating simple, cozy holiday cheer. Even if you don’t purchase anything, browsing through their website will indulge your senses.
3. If you need a zero-waste gift, I suggest these yummy-smelling shampoo barsfrom my other favorite company: Lush. They come in reusable tins and last almost as long as a plastic bottle of shampoo.
4. I also love this fascinating Netflix documentary about comedians Jim Carrey and the late, brilliant Andy Kaufman. It goes deeper than comedy to help unravel the big questions of identity and purpose.
5. Just before I gave birth to Jonah, someone suggested I check out respectful parenting coach Janet Lansbury. I’ve grown to love her philosophies on how to teach our children healthy boundaries by using our own thriving example. Her piece on parental self-care is a good one for all of us. Even if we don’t have children, learning to treat everyone in our lives from a place of self-care will help us all create more satisfying boundaries with the world.
Self Care 101 Announcement
Are you ready to change? Do you thrive in groups? Is this your moment?
If so, I want you to join the next round of Self Care 101. Starting on January 7th, twenty amazing women will work together to create a lifestyle of self-care and a community of support. I've taken over 200 women through this process and have seen the wonders it will work in your life. Yes, even you who thinks that you'll never be able to change. Let's get started.
Do you want to learn more? Oh goodie! Please fill out this application and we’ll talk, commitment-free, to see if it’s a good fit.
UPDATE: Seven amazing ladies have already signed up! This round is going to be really good!
A Final Thought
A good philosophy to use when dealing with our children or anyone who is challenging us:
"Feelings flow more easily if we don’t take them on as our work. We don’t need to fix every problem or even work our children through them. It’s exhausting. Instead, all that’s needed is to accept, acknowledge, and let the feelings be. Shifting into this mindset can certainly be challenging at first (when most of us have the instinct to do something to make the feelings pass), but it’s more positive and a relief for all concerned when we simply breathe, observe and trust." - Janet Lansbury