The holidays are upon us and this time of year dictates that we buy gifts for our loved ones. Gift giving can be a wonderful expression of love and appreciation, but what about all those times when it doesn’t? What about when gift giving brings up feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, and overwhelm? What about when gifts are given out of obligation instead of joy?
Although self-care is a high priority for living a fulfilling life, it can be challenging to juggle the pressure to buy everyone gifts while trying to take responsibility for your own needs. The dilemma that this brings up is how to conform to the norms of society while continuing to show up for yourself. I have learned that it has worked out better to stop abandoning myself during the holiday season.
Here are the truths I have identified about gift giving that have made my holidays more peaceful and fulfilling:
1. Understanding the meaning of a gift.
The true meaning of giving a gift is “a thing given willingly to someone without payment”. When we consider this, we must challenge the habit that Christmas’s gifts have attached: expectation. True gift giving is done freely “without payment”. Unfortunately, how many of us receive gifts and hang our heads in shame because we couldn’t give a gift of equal value? How many of us give a gift and then become resentful because we didn’t receive a gift as grand? This is not the unconditional spirit of giving!
2. Expanding the idea of what a gift can be.
Too often, the value of a gift has been cheapened to material cost. When we think of Christmas gifts, most of us automatically envision beautifully packaged boxes under the tree. But what about gifts of time, affection, or experience? What if the most valuable things we have to give are pieces of ourselves – a night under the stars, an intimate dinner, sharing a moment to make fudge, or taking a road trip. Making memories that last can be so much more fulfilling than purchasing an item. The evidence has actually already been shown that experiences make us much happier than stuff, so why not implement that idea in our Christmas gift giving?
3. Giving out of abundance.
I have had many a miserable and stressed out Christmas because I chose to give even though it meant sacrificing my own financial wellbeing. Gifts that went on credit or jeopardized my ability to pay a bill never felt good and always left a twinge of resentment. I have learned that the best and only gifts I give are for fun and freely given. When we give gifts out of obligation and guilt, we have undermined the very meaning of giving a gift. When we take care of our biggest responsibility (our own self-care) and then give out of our overflow, we are capable of giving freely and rejoicing with our recipients. Bottom line is I must show up for myself before I am capable of showing up for anyone else. This is just as true in the holiday season as any other time.
4. Remember yourself too.
Christmas is a time of giving, not just for your loved ones, but for you too! Consider the little ways (or big ones!) that you can give back to yourself as well. It could be giving yourself a day off, taking a bubble bath, or treating yourself to a spa day. Remember that the better you take care of you, the more you are capable of participating in the magical spirit of this season and sharing abundantly with your loved ones.
How have you navigated gift giving in this holiday season? I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you remember your own self-care during the holidays! Please share in the comments below.
Jillian Landis is a Self-Care and Worthiness Coach at Evolve Personal Coaching, blogger, and writer for Nourish + Bloom. Jillian's passion is encouraging big hearted individuals to extend a little of their love to themselves, so they may serve this world at their greatest potential. Prior to coaching, Jillian served in the mental health profession for 10 years and has a vast knowledge of human behavior, which she utilizes to create effective change in the lives of her clients.