You: The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself

Did you know that the holidays are considered the most stressful time of the year for women?

I think most of us who are parents especially, understand why this is … Merry Stressmas, I always say. While women in our society are making great strides as we achieve more financial independence and freedom, we are still doing 80% of the housework at home. The holidays are particularly overwhelming for us as we attempt to make five different cookies (from scratch), decorate the house, hand roll those truffles your mother-in-law loves, wrap 50 thousand presents and still work 40 hours a week and do all the daily chores. Sigh. Even though a lot of us have partners who do these things alongside us, we are still feeling exhausted and stressed out during the holiday season.

I’m suggesting we do something different this year: something that appears selfish and for which we might feel some guilt about but I promise you it’s worth it. Why not give yourself a gift this season, a special treat just for you? I saw in a trailer for the Bad Moms movie coming out this year, that mothers “give joy, not receive it” during the holidays. How true! But why is this? Why do we have this strong drive to do all of these tasks that we feel everyone needs us to do in order to make their holidays special? What about what WE need and desire … we seem to be a-ok with putting our needs on the back burner but I’m suggesting that this is a dangerous habit that we’ve gotten into. Putting our needs last is a surefire way to cause us burnout, fatigue, overwhelm, anxiety and sadness. I see this every day with the women I work with; we’re all tired and overwhelmed.

Is there a new tradition you could bring into your life during this stressful time, that will help bring some joy into your holiday this year? If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some you can try:

  • You and your bestie attend a local play (check out Port Tobacco Player’s in LaPlata for holiday themed plays);
  • You and your partner take a day off just for the two of you, exploring Old Town Alexandria or downtown Annapolis, complete with a yummy lunch;
  • Schedule a facial or massage at a local spa;
  • Take a walk outside in the sunshine;
  • Check out a local coffee shop and finally crack open that book you’ve been wanting to read.

While it seems impossible to even squeeze out an extra hour for yourself this season, I promise you it will be the greatest gift you can give and receive. Your friends and family will thank you, maybe you’ll notice that your holiday is a little bit sweeter, a little less chaotic and maybe, just maybe you’ll start a new tradition that will be something you actually look forward to! We at Empowered Connections wish you and all your loved ones a safe and less stressful holiday season.

DEBORAH DULEY is a licensed social worker in the state of Maryland. She has a BS in social work from Bowie State University and a Masters of Social Work from Howard University, Washington DC, as well as thousands of clinical hours and continuing education. She is a certified Stepfamily Foundation Counselor and is ASIST trained in suicide intervention. In addition Deborah is trained in divorce and custody mediation. Deborah is the founder and owner of the counseling practice Empowered Connections LLC, located in the heart of Leonardtown Maryland and the facilitator of her new therapy program “10 Sessions to Better Self-Esteem.” Deborah has over 25 years of experience working with women in many capacities such as activist, domestic violence counselor, and crisis interventionist. As the “women’s therapist,” she is passionate about working with women and teen girls. She integrates her knowledge of mental health issues and her life experiences to assist them in increasing their self-esteem, decrease anxiety & depression symptoms and tackle a whole host of personal issues that women struggle with.