The holidays are complicated, full stop. For some, holidays are something we look forward to excitedly. It’s a time for traditions, giving, quality time. For others, holidays are stressful. We might be experiencing grief, living through strained family relationships, we might be experiencing financial, emotional, or physical stress and pressures. Some of us may be somewhere in between all of those things.
For everyone, we introduce our Holiday Health Guide. We’ve spoken with inspirational health coaches across the country to highlight helpful tips for thriving during the holidays, in spite of and in consideration of whatever you might be going through. Health coaches are there for you always but especially to support you wherever you are during complicated times.
Lead with what you need
Traditionally, the holidays put an emphasis on others. Some of us prepare to gather, give gifts, send and receive cards, or reach out to others to give them our best wishes. But health coaches remind us that we can’t show up for others fully until and unless we fully show up for ourselves, and the holidays are no exception.
Jeannie Dafforn, NBC-HWC and contracted YourCoach Health coach shares, “When I talk to people, I typically find that they’re allowing expectations from others to be more important than what they actually want. So, I help them put the focus back on their needs, wants, and expectations even if that means that they don’t want to be involved with any of the typical holiday things.” This can sometimes be an uncomfortable experience for people; but the benefits of putting yourself first means you’re prepared to take on the emotions associated with tricky holiday situations—which is absolutely invaluable during this time. Says Jeannie, “There can be a lot of guilt that they put on themselves because of this and we talk through the importance of taking care of what they really need.”
So, how do you go about figuring out what it is you might want or need for you this holiday season? Says Christine Akers, MS, NBC-HWC, “Consider: what is it that you need most this holiday season? To feel seen? To feel less lonely? To feel valued beyond a gift? To laugh and forget about the stressors of the world? Pinpoint the most important needs(s) to be filled and then brainstorm how you can pursue and/or ask for what you need.” Making your needs and wants clear, not just to yourself, but to those who care about you, can mitigate any frustrations, resentments, or sadness around the holidays. Especially for those who might experience a mix of complicated emotions around showing up for others who may or may not be showing up for you in the ways you need them to, self-advocating is an important tool.
Get comfortable with saying “no”
Giving of our time, our support even our finances in the form of donations to others is another key theme during the holiday season. While these efforts can be incredibly important and rewarding, it’s important to check in with yourself regularly. Do you have the emotional and physical capacity to attend another gathering? Harkening back to our first tip, figure out what it is you need during the holiday season and get comfortable saying “no” to the things you don’t.
Certified health and wellness coach, Sharena Graves, explains, “I’ve helped my clients brainstorm ways to set boundaries and be ok with saying, ‘no.’ Saying, ‘I can’t donate financially to every cause but how can I help in a different way.’” Health coaches empower clients to identify and honor their boundaries. As Sharena explains, “no” can have many paths forward and health coaches help clients see those paths more clearly. Sometimes “no” means you’re definitely not showing up to a holiday party because you’re dealing with loss, illness or grief and not in a state to celebrate. Honor that. Sometimes “no” can mean you’re not able to purchase someone the expensive gift they’re asking for, but you can give them more of your time or something homemade and heartfelt. Honor that.
Accept that holidays will look different every year—and that’s okay
As we mentioned, very many of us are living through different moments in time. We’re experiencing different emotional, financial, and physical stressors that impact the ways we can show up during the holidays—and that’s okay. Jeannie echoes, “Sometimes people are wrestling with grief from losing a loved one and the last thing they want to do is celebrate.” It’s okay for this holiday season to not look like last year’s, even if last year’s looked like the ten before that. Health coaches embrace you where you are, they meet you wherever you are, and help you accept that yourself.
Tap into your wellness toolbox
One of the major reasons health coaching is so statistically effective is because coaches arm clients with a wellness toolkit to tap into whenever they need it. This toolkit might evolve session-to-session, depending on what’s needed at any given time. But it’s always built to serve you in between sessions, so you’re prepared to face uncomfortable and complicated sessions head-on.
Rachael Charbonneau, NBC-HWC, reiterates, “Tap into your tool box for the things you know help you manage your stress. Is that meditation? A walk? A workout? A call to a supportive friend? Remembering what tools we have that we can tap into, even if for 2 – 5 minutes, can be helpful.” Especially knowing how particularly stressful life can get around the holidays, making time for these wellness moments can be gamechanging.
Acknowledge the privilege of being present
Last week, we shared the many ways health coaches encourage mindfulness and highlighted why this state of internal awareness can be so scientifically important. Thriving during the holidays means living through them. It means being absolutely present in the here and now. Health coaches make that possible.
What can that look like when working with a health coach? Jessica David, NBC-HWC of Conveying Awareness, explains, “I encourage clients to write their own script. That they get to paint the time as they see it. I hold space for them. While some people are uncomfortable with pausing long enough to allow space for the client to show up in their vulnerable, raw, and present ways, I find it a privilege to just be.”
A special thank you to the incredible coaches who shared insights for this blog and whose work has immense impact. It’s coaches like these who inspire us to continue expanding access to health coaching year-over-year. Thanks to our growing roster of Industry Partnerships, and incredible cohort of verified and validated health coaches, we’ve been helping diverse organizations offer health coaching through our technology-augmented force of live health coaches.
If you’re interested in kickstarting talks around how to bring health coaching to your organization, now’s the time! Drop us a line at email@example.com.
Wishing everyone a healthy holiday season!