'Tis the season for joy, laughter...and a lot of conflicting emotions around family, food, spending, socializing, and more.
Instead of a gift guide this year, I thought I'd give you something you can use through the season and beyond: a field guide of some of our WANT community's favorite tips, tools, and resources to shift your self-talk, especially during the most wonderful time of the year.
Scroll through, then gift this holiday guide to a friend who might need some extra support this season...
SETTING (MINDFUL) BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR FAMILY DURING THE HOLIDAYS + BEYOND
Setting boundaries (mindful boundaries) with our loved ones right now is crucial to not only our sanity, but to our relationships with our relatives. For most of us, we’re only with our extended fam a few times throughout the year, so it’s important that when we're all together, we’re working to build the kinds of relationships – and, so cliché, but the kinds of memories – we want to have.READ MORE ➪
I WAS SO BAD: BREAKING OUT OF FOOD GUILT
Even the teeniest bit of food guilt is more than likely to arise at one point or another, especially during the holidays. To fight against food guilt and fight FOR the body that deserves to be loved (<-yours!), put these three tips to use year-round. READ MORE ➪
AN INTROVERT’S GUIDE TO BEING SOCIAL (WITH SOUL)
Parties make you sweat...but also don't want to miss out on holiday cheer? I hear ya. Introversion and extroversion are not black and white; every single person has a bit of both inside them. The trick is not to try and change yourself into an extrovert or go against what feels true to you – it’s to know how to play up your strengths no matter the situation. Here are 7 ways to stay social while still being true to who you are at your core – no faking required. READ MORE ➪
DO’SHA KNOW: AYURVEDIC STRESS RELIEF 101
Stress is high year-round, but during the holidy months it seems to runneth over. Sahara’s take on stress: find your dosha and go from there. Think this is just another personality test? Ayurveda is about way more than the individual. It’s about living in harmony with the world around you, too. Take the quiz:READ MORE ➪
HOW TO DO A PLANNED FREAK-OUT
I can't get over how many of you have told me that this exercise is LIFE-CHANGING. I don't know about that...but I do know it has prevented many a meltdown in my own life, and also made me stay focused on what really matters. Here's how to do one.READ MORE ➪
ON SPENDING WISELY + LETTING THE GUILT GO
Maybe GIFT-GIVING is your love language. That's totally okay. Here's how to curb mindless spending...and how to check yourself when you're in the midst of "retail therapy."READ MORE ➪
The holiday season. On one hand, it’s a time of food, fun and family togetherness. On the other hand… it’s a time of food, fun and family togetherness.
Getting together with the family can bring out all sorts of emotions. No matter how close your clan is or how different you all are, the various personalities at play coupled with the high-energy of the holiday season too often means we end up associating this time of year with stress, obligation and forced oversharing. Everyone somehow gets entangled in everyone else’s business, and come mid-December we’re counting down the days until the parties end and the New Year strikes. What a waste of holiday cheer!
Setting boundaries (mindful boundaries) with our loved ones right now is crucial to not only our sanity, but to our relationships with our relatives. For most of us, we’re only with our extended family a few times throughout the year, so it’s important that when we are all together, we’re working to build the kinds of relationships – and, so cliché, but the kinds of memories – we want to have.
I come from a large extended family, one I’ve been lucky enough to have living closeby my entire life. Because of this, we’ve developed some pretty close relationships – my cousins on my mom’s side are more like siblings, and my extended family on my dad’s side are some of the coolest people I know. But just because we’re two steps away from Brady Bunch status (mostly TV show, not movie) doesn’t mean it’s always peachy. I know firsthand that disagreements within the fam are usually unavoidable, and it can be easy to get into a scuffle when there are lots of different personalities in the room. And that’s not even taking into account the questions, comments, and demands that might just be one step too far. Even the Bradys couldn’t avoid it (mostly movie, not TV show).
Whether you’re talking politics or your one aunt just won’t stop asking when you’re going to settle down, here are three ways to keep things civil, compassionate and in control without resorting to anger or putting up walls:
1.) COME PREPARED WITH QUESTIONS. You know the saying, “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Ask the questions you’d appreciate being asked. If you don’t want to give a play-by-play on your love life, don’t go there with others. If you don’t want to explain your year of “funemployment” to your uncle, choose to ask him about his hobbies, travels, holiday plans or something other than “How work’s going?” You get the picture.
Just because you have boundaries doesn’t mean you’re closed off or not invested. Everyone has their own limits as to what they’re comfortable discussing, and everyone is an open book in other areas of their life. Use your empathy skills to gauge what others might love discussing…and what might make them break out into hives. Showing people how you are both genuinely interested in them and respect their privacy will send off signals that you’d appreciate if they’d do the same. And by the way, if someone is prying, it is perfectly okay to give a vague answer and steer the conversation in another direction. You are in charge of how much you are willing to share.
also, don’t pry into others’ lives if you don’t want others prying into your life.
2.) SHUT DOWN THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK. From griping about life events to commiserating over body image woes, casual negativity is a bonding tactic – a cheap and easy way to form connections and find common ground. I’m not talking about legitimate, concern-causing grievances (signs of depression, eating disorders, abuse, etc). I’m talking about the emotionally loaded conversations we have simply to bond with one another.
Large family gatherings can be a cesspool for negative bonding sessions. When you hear the members of your family griping about how “bad” they’ve eaten, counter that with a comment on how awesome your aunt’s cooking was, then ask about a recipe. When you notice a conversation about work is veering down a negative road, ask to hear about a hobby someone loves or a recent success. Lead with your own pragmatic positivity, and make a pact with yourself that you will not be roped into feeling bad about yourself just to fit in.
just own your coolness, Cindy.
3.) BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE. Whether we’ve grown up around them our entire lives or only see them once in a blue moon, it can be easy to fall into past roles with our families. You’re a “grandchild” in the mix? You’re still a kid in your aunts’, uncles’, and grandparents’ eyes. The oldest child in the fam? Maybe you’re expected to play that part even though you don’t really feel like you’ve gotten anything figured out yet.
Just because you’re the “kid” in your family does not warrant that you’re treated as such. Whether your aunt is infringing on the way you parent your little one or your older sibling is bossing you around in the kitchen, the holidays are a fantastic time to renew your vow to yourself to be the you you know you want to be. It’s a time of year that can bring out the very best of us – or the very worst. It’s up to us which one we choose. Sure, words speak volumes – saying, “I’ve got this” or a simple, “No thank you” sometimes does the trick – but when it comes to setting boundaries with your loved ones, actions speak encyclopedias.
one of my favorite scenes of all time. it’s a rocky road to a healthy self-image, but you’ll get there.
As impossible as it might seem, you can prevent a disagreement from turning into a disaster if you’re coming from the right place. No matter the topic of conversation or vibe you’re getting from the other person, make sure the underlying emotion you carry with you is love. Be empathetic. Be assertive. Listen to your heart for cues on when to budge and when to stand firm – and on when to speak up and when to let it go.
Most importantly? Just because you’re with your family doesn’t mean you need to morph into a different version of yourself. Ease is contagious – and so is authenticity. And you don’t have to always feel at ease to be authentically yourself. The more you do you, the more they’ll catch on. The more they catch on, the more comfortable they’ll feel doing the same. And that’s the best holiday present you could give them.
WANT Yourself: Do you struggle with setting boundaries when it comes to family – or even old friends? What do you do when you start to feel the anxiety kick in?
This Thanksgiving, I celebrated my very first Friendsgiving with an intimate group of people at my friend Sarah’s house in Brooklyn. In her invite, she told us all to bring something that reminded us of what we’re grateful for. After filling ourselves with some of the best homemade food I’ve ever tasted (shout out to Sarah for BAKING HER OWN BREAD FROM SCRATCH and then using it for stuffing), we went around the room and shared what we’d brought and what it reminded us to be grateful for.
Some people brought ornaments. Some shared notes. I brought some of my journals from my childhood and teen years – because what I determined I was MOST grateful for this year was my quirky, introspective, aware childhood and the safe space it’s given me to land.
At the beginning of this year, I made a whiteboard with all of my professional goals for 2016. Events? Check. Finances? Kinda-check. And then a list of things that at the beginning of the year, I thought mattered so much.
Then 2016 happened.
This year has shaken me (and us, I think) up in all of the best and worst ways possible – all culminating with a pretty tough November. But in the toughness, there was so much to be grateful for – and so much I was reminded to never take for granted.
Forget about the obvious stuff, like a loving, healthy relationship and the chance to live in New York City. This month reminded me to be grateful for the feeling of community in my life; for not feeling alone. Let alone living in one of the best cities in the world – this month made me grateful to be living with a roof over my head, period! I was reminded to be grateful that even when money’s a little tighter than usual that I still have enough to provide myself with the basic necessities and then some. Not only do I have a close relationship with my family, I belong to a family that for the most part agrees about the big things like politics, civil liberties, and basic human decency. Heck, I am in TOUCH with my whole family. That’s saying something! This month has reminded me how damn lucky I am to have all I have. So many people are worried about everything from whether they’ll be able to afford healthcare to how they will put food on the table to whether they’ll ever feel welcome in their own family members’ homes again. This month, I am most grateful for three decades of diving in and digging deep even when it’s most uncomfortable – whether it’s examining my privileges or feeling things that are hard to feel. Right now, I am most grateful that even in the toughest of times, EVEN when I don’t want to get out of bed, I’ve taught myself how to look beyond the emotions of the situation at hand and ask “What Can I Do To Help?” Whether it’s others or myself, I am super grateful to have cultivated this power, slowly but surely. Even when I felt like an outsider…even when I felt like I was weird for being so “emotional” (really just pensive)…I am so glad I stuck with it. That work is paying off now. Big time.
The things I thought mattered still matter, but in perspective they’re just stops along the way. They’re cool things and cool accomplishments and cool ways to live life. But this year has been a massive reminder of what truly matters in the long run, and how important it is for us all to use our gifts, talents, privileges, and wisdom to make an impact for the better. That’s what I mean when, at the end of each WANTcast, I say “Be the you YOU know you’re meant to be.” Not just for yourself. But for the world, too.
I know you’re probably sick of the gift guides slamming your inboxes right now, but I’d love to offer up a few suggestions this year in the spirit of helping others and helping yourself:
FOR PLACES TO DONATE, in your name or someone else’s, check outthis awesome list of pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-earth, anti-bigotry organizations. The ACLU, She Should Run, Planned Parenthood, EarthJustice, and so many more! Be sure to go through the comments section for even more suggestions. Also, a list of ways to helpStanding Rock – which, if you haven’t been following along, is devastating and makes me wonder what century we’re living in…
FOR JEWELRY WITH A MISSION, my friend Diane’s companyLove Infinity For Allis designed to start conversations around mental illness. But she also knows that conversation is only one part of the equation – which is why she donates 15% of all purchases to the National Alliance For Mental Illness to make change happen. Also, every single one of her pieces is gorgeous. Currently coveting the brand-new veganGwenwrap choker.SHOP HERE
FOR A BOOK THAT HEALS, my absolute favorite of the moment is Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir,Love Warrior. The people in my life are probably sick of me talking about this book ad nauseum. You’ve heard of “self-help” books? This is more like a “self-heal” book. Love Warrior is absolutely stunning. So stunning, in fact, that I read it cover to cover on my most recent flight from LA to NYC. There’s been a crapton written about how moving this book is and about how powerful Glennon’s story is – and it’s all true. I’d like to add that part of what makes this book so incredible is HOW it’s structured. I love how Glennon not only writes in the first person, but in the present tense so you feel like you’re on the journey with her. In telling her story, exploring her truths, and stepping fearlessly into who she really is, Glennon somehow encourages you to do the same. You heal along with her in the process. What’s even cooler? If you are determined to make Glennon your new BFF go down the rabbit hole and take a peek at her social media accounts, blog, etc, she is using this opportunity of massive visibility to do SO MUCH GOOD. Take a peek atTogether RisingandHoliday Hands. Yes, she’s got a best-selling memoir. Yes, Oprah called. But this badass chick keeps her freaking eye on the prize – the prize being the change she can make in others’ lives on both a micro and macro level. I get choked up every single time I think about it. This is what we should all be doing. Tell our truths, do hard things, and use opportunities to benefit as many people as we can.BUY HERE
FOR KIDS ALL OVER, I am wishing I was a kid again and could get a million ofThe Doll Kind. For each doll purchased, one doll is given to a child in need. Hospitals, orphanages, shelters, the works. My dolls and stuffed animals brought me so much joy and, as an introvert, always made me feel like I had a best friend by my side even when I wanted to just play alone. I can’t even begin to imagine how much these dolls must mean to the less fortunate kids who receive them.SHOP HERE
FOR YOUR FAVE INTROVERT (speaking of introvert kids…), check out WANTcast guest Jenn Granneman’s newIntrovert Dreamscoloring book. I cannot imagine how different my self-perception would have been if I had known about introverts when I was little! Listen to Jenn on the WANTcasthere, then gift this book to your favorite little one (or grown-up introvert) to let them know it’s cool to be quiet.BUY HERE
FOR YOUR NEW FAVE ONE-STOP SHOP,Enrou is where it’s at. I was introduced to Enrou earlier this year and it was love at first click. Each piece on the site, from hats and scarves to bags and home goods, provides hours of dignified work, an income and job training to someone who needs it. Your purchase also helps supports Enrou’s brand partners’ community initiatives such as health education, financial coaching, and women’s empowerment programs. If you’re giving someone a gift, be sure to print out the page you bought it from, so they can see the pic of the person/community they’re supporting. I know – cue the happy-waterworks. I lovethis hat, this kimono, these hoops,every single one of their pieces with The Giving Keys, andthis Old Fashioned set(bc a girl’s gotta drink in style). Actually, I love everything. SHOP HERE (***EDIT: Enrou is offering WANT readers 10% off through the end of 2016 with the code WANT10 – so get shopping!
AND FOR A GIFT THAT COSTS NOTHING, maybesubscribe a woman in your life to the WANT newsletterso she can be a part of our community! Every single day (literally), I hear from others how important WANT is and how much the work we are doing matters. We cannot help others if we do not help ourselves first – how can we do either if we’re programming ourselves to be our own worst enemies? Entering your friend’s email is so simple, but could be the thing that changes everything. (But, um, give them the heads up so they don’t think we’re spamming them, k?)SUBSCRIBE HERE
What about you? Do you have a small business that gives back or a soulful gift you’ll be giving this holiday season? Tell us in the comments!
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