Making Space: More Headspace, Less Clutter, And Better Holidays

This year, make space for self-care rather than getting sucked into the holiday chaos.

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If you’re like many women, by mid-November the holidays are probably taking up a lot of your physical, mental, and emotional space. You’re planning what you need to cook, who you need to buy for, and how you’ll balance all those holiday party invitations. You’re dreaming up the perfect gifts for the kids while at the same time wondering where you’re going to put any new toys. You’re wondering if your brothers will be civil to each other at the big family dinner. At the same time you’re probably spending more time indoors and might be overwhelmed by the clutter in your house. All of that can combine to make December a pretty hectic month. There’s no way to escape the fact that there is a lot going on during the holidays. However, it is possible to make space for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, and doing so can help you enjoy the holiday season without getting overwhelmed. Here’s how to get started.

Find your headspace.

If you’re trying to combat stress this holiday season, the most important thing you can do is find time to clear your head. There are many ways to go about this. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and improve attention. There are many apps available that offer short guided meditations for beginners.  If moving is more your thing, head to the gym or have a dance party. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood, and music releases the feel-good chemical dopamine. Try to incorporate these practices daily to keep stress at bay, and turn to them when you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed.  

Clear physical space.

Chances are that your home is feeling a bit more crowded this time of year. After all, depending on where you live, you can no longer open the windows and doors or opt to spend all day outside. That can make the home feel crowded, which makes the idea of taking in more holiday gifts seem like a big burden. After all, clutter has been shown to increase stress since it overstimulates your brain and reminds you of work that has to be done (like sorting through that pile). To help alleviate that, take time to clear out clutter from your house this winter. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, that’s just one more thing to add to my to-do list!” but don’t worry. Clearing clutter can be easy. Give yourself a goal of getting rid of five items every day. Go through your bureau, the toy box, and the junk drawer and ditch anything you haven’t used recently. Toss anything that’s in questionable condition, and keep a box outside your home or in your car for anything that can be donated (that way you’re not tempted to take it back inside).

Clear emotional space.

During the holidays many people (especially women) spend time worrying about other people’s emotions. We often accept gifts that we don’t want or need and keep them for a long time so we don’t offend the giver. However, anyone who gives you a gift wants you to feel great, so ditch the guilt if a gift isn’t for you. Feel free to pass it along to someone who would enjoy it or donate it. Better still: If someone asks what you want, ask for experiential gifts (tickets or museum membership) or disposable gifts (like bath bombs or lotion) that will not add to the clutter in your home and mind. This year, don’t let the holidays overwhelm you. Instead, make space to truly enjoy them!

Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is a freelance journalist who has written for The Washington Post, Cosmo, and more. She specializes in health and mental health content as well as stories about families. When she's not writing she is getting lost in the woods of New Hampshire, where she lives. Connect on Facebook or find out more at her website.

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