We’re smack in the middle of the holidays. Are you tempted to amp up your already busy life?

Don’t take the bait.

Spending time with people you love is essential, but let’s face it – frantic, crazy, pushed and pressed isn’t fun. For anyone. It certainly isn’t a way to demonstrate compassion, the focus of the November series, Love Yourself Up.

My heart broke when Erin told me she was taking medical leave. Calling her a Type A personality was an understatement. She was the picture of the axiom, “If you want something done, give it to the busiest person.” She was never exhausted. If anything, she thrived on back-to-back meetings followed by volunteer activities at her kids’ school.

Erin put her career on hold to face surgeries and a painful recovery. When I ran into her six months later, everything had changed, yet there was a silver lining: Her life had expanded in ways she never expected.

Erin had pushed through being tired ever since her children were toddlers. But her old habits came up short after her hospital stay. Post-surgery fatigue made her start listening to her body for the first time in years. She said with a shrug, “Now there are plenty of Friday nights I look at my husband at 7:00 and say, ‘Pajama time!’ After a long week, I relax on the couch while my teenagers freestyle dinner.”

During her leave, her team adopted to handling some meetings and tasks without her close supervision. When she returned, things were running so smoothly that she let the leads keep going. It was a win-win. They became better managers while Erin finally had time to start doing something that had been on her wish list for years: mentoring new hires.

Erin wasn’t the same after facing down cancer, but she didn’t see that as a loss. She started from where she was, rather than trying to recreate the person she had been. She decided that some habits, like no longer taking her laptop to bed and stopping for lunch every day, weren’t a “nice to have”. They became non-negotiable. The kindness she showed herself rippled through her whole world.

If you ever compare yourself to others and ask, “How do they do it all?”, this week’s challenge is for you. The trick to having meaningful experiences, especially during the holidays, isn’t to pile more on. It’s about deciding what matters most.

Maybe your body is trying to get your attention, asking you to slow down the pace. Or this could be the season where you choose activities with a little more thought and slightly less obligation. Or perhaps you’ll go even deeper and, like Erin, make peace with the reality that you’re not invincible.

The world is overflowing with intensity right now. Adding to the tension with unrealistic expectations won’t help. If you’re not sure where to start, ask a simple question, “What is one thoughtful thing I can do for myself?”, and then follow through.

Love yourself up today. 

Published by Michelle Mains