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Hello! Vanessa here – and I’m anxiously awaiting the onset of cooler temperatures. Huzzah!

I’m also thinking about the year-end holidays that come with those cooler temperatures. While many of us eagerly await much about the holidays: family, friends, traditions, homemade manicotti…(oops, that’s my house) these very same things some may look forward to can seem like a minefield if you have a history of a complicated dynamic with food and eating behaviors. In fact, you might feel like you hold seemingly incompatible feelings at once! If that seems like an overly complicated way to live, hear me out: it’s actually a concept that can increase your capacity for self-compassion around the holidays. And when you have more self-compassion around the holidays, or really any time of year, the stressors or emotional triggers that may bubble up for you can feel like less of a struggle.

Holding two contradicting feelings about something is sometimes referred to as “both/and” thinking and it honors the complex reality we all live in. You can feel both grateful and anxious about the holidays. You can feel both excited and resentful about houseguests. You can feel both relieved and sad when it’s January 2. Looking at both/and as a valid thought process can help you work through your own experiences without judgment. And letting go of self-judgment is a vital aspect and basis of self-care. When you are less judgmental and more compassionate about yourself, you can use that compassion as a platform upon which you can build other self-care practices, like moving your body in a way that is fun and eating in a manner that honors your preferences and also feels good in your body.

That being said, fitting self-care into what feels like an already packed holiday time can feel like yet one more thing to cross off of your list. If this sounds like you, put practical ahead of perfect. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing I can do?” List your top few self-care practices and try to pick one that you can do. Bonus if you are able to include some form of alone time if possible—whether that’s journaling, spending some time in nature, intentional breathing or just sitting and reading a book while listening to your favorite music and sipping on a mug of tea. When many things are competing for your attention, prioritizing some alone time for these practices can help you stay connected both to yourself and your self-care needs, adding to your coping mechanism practices and hopefully de-emphasizing any holiday stressors that come your way.