What Gift Will You Give Yourself?

The holidays are here and with them often comes a great deal of stress. We try to find the perfect gift for everyone on our lists, bake the best cookies, and make our houses Pinterest-perfect. This week Tina and Serena are inviting you to think about what gift you want to give yourself this year. Listen in to hear the Mental Health Mamas talk about holiday stressors, setting good boundaries, practicing self-care, and more!

Notes and Mentions

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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.

Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.


Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.

Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.

Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as the parents of kids who struggle with their emotional health.

Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.

Tina: This time of year we think a lot about gift giving and creating things (food, gifts, decorations) and I don’t know about you Serena but I am quite stressed this time of year trying really hard to make things….well…perfect!

Serena: Mmhm. So much stress! I tell myself every year that I’m not going to get stressed out this year and I don’t think I’ve been successful yet. And I notice an elevated level of stress in others everywhere I go.

Tina: Absolutely. And this year has been a bit different for me in that my new hip is not quite ready for the full hustle and bustle of the season. I have done a few things that have helped me to feel grounded and I’ve tried to put the stress of the gift giving kind of on the back burner.

Serena: OK, so you have to tell us what you’ve been doing to stay grounded!

Tina: As you know, I have been working on a big, very creative project! I am making a gingerbread house that resembles a building on the University of Richmond campus. It has been challenging and fun and it’s finally done.

Serena: I’ve seen it and it is amazing! And I’m hoping you will share a picture on our social media feeds.

Tina: Yes! I am hoping to give myself the grace to kind of “let it go” and not keep picking at it! I said it was done and I mean it. And yeah. It’s a perfection problem issue, right? I need to have it be perfect.

Serena: Mmhm. The perfection problem comes up again, right? I think this might be a good time to bring up a project maybe that I made for you?

Tina: Yes and I do think this is also a very sharable moment on social media which we will share! I got a very lovely box in the mail from my very good friend Serena Ward just before my surgery which was a nice surprise. It was a hand knit pillow with a beautiful pink flamingo right in the center on one side and …

Serena: Mmm. Unfortunately the flamingo on the back is not so right in the center… And yes, we can share a picture of this too. Just to prove that we’re not making any of this up. I’m definitely not perfect and I never will be.

Tina: No, one of us will be. And the card said something like, “Here is a pink flamingo (everyone needs one!) and the back side is to remind you to be perfectly imperfect!” It was perfect! For sure! And at the time, it was just what I needed to lift my spirits right before the surgery which I was worried about at the time. So let’s talk about some of the more challenging parts to the holidays, some of those stressors that really kind of prohibit us from enjoying “the most wonderful time of the year”.

Serena: Money! Money is a huge stressor during the holidays. There’s so much more to buy and I’m always concerned about getting just the right things for everyone. I don’t know about everybody else out there, but my family, we make the same amount of money in December that we do the rest of the year.

Tina: That is for sure true. I hear you! The pressure of getting the things, our kids getting the things sometimes has us searching for very pricey items! Some of the very most thoughtful gifts I have ever received are from people who have made things for me. I do love the tradition that you have with your kids. Can you just share a little bit. I think you might have last year but share with us again.

Serena: Sure! I can do that. My kids all plan out and make gifts for one another so there’s a lot of secret planning and scheming and trying to figure out what they can make that their sisters will love. I love this tradition too and I have to confess that it can be really stressful as well because they get so into it and want it to be the most special gift ever.

Tina: I can see that. And…I call you only after the fact and see the loveliness of the tradition. I don’t really feel the pre-stress pressure!

Serena: Yes, good point! What do you find stressful?

Tina: I echo the need to find “the most special gift ever”. It seems that most of the people in my life have what they need and it’s finding that quirky “special” thing and it’s hard!

Serena: Yeah I know just what you mean. I feel like we have too many “things” already in my family yet there’s an expectation of gifts and I really do want to give gifts. Another stressor is everything that happens during the holidays. All of the gatherings and special events…last year was actually a bit of a reprieve from that in many ways.

Tina: I hear that! And it was weird. And I am kind of excited to have things be a little more “normal” this year. Maybe not quite as normal as it has been, but you know, making…and let’s just say this is variable throughout the world, right? How from in the US, state to state or area to area just really different. So let’s talk about the current situation a little bit in our country and how that spills over into our family situations.

Serena: Right. Any time we find ourselves in conflict or disagreement with members of our family it just adds to the stress. I can imagine certain expectations in families that everyone may or may not feel comfortable meeting in the midst of a pandemic.

Tina: Yeah and the differing points of view on the pandemic really do cause conflict. And we will not get into that part of the conversation but I do want to point out that perhaps we all need to do a little better when it comes to considering the points of view of others, right? I read once and it really has become kind of a mantra for me that you don’t have to engage in every argument you are invited to.

Serena: Mmhm. Permission to have your own opinion AND permission to not engage.

Tina: Exactly! And that brings us to some tips for taking good care of yourself during this, what can be, a stressful time.

Serena: We’ve talked a lot about gifts and the stresses of gift giving so let’s think about this in terms of the gift we’re going to give ourselves. So maybe we can think together about what gifts we can give ourselves to make the season a bit less stressful.

Tina: Let’s do it. So, gift one: know when to acknowledge someone’s point of view, perhaps the feeling they are having around the topic without needing to agree with them or share your own opinion.

Serena: And having someone to share the hard things with.

Tina: Yes. And it’s important to have a person, often you Serena, to download or offload that stuff that I don’t want to hold onto myself. Having someone help you carry the hard stuff is super important, super helpful, great gift to yourself.

Serena: I like that one! How about a lovely gift of good boundaries? That could go hand in hand with the first gift or maybe it’s about saying no to something you don’t really want to do.

Tina: Yes! We often feel guilty for setting those boundaries and saying no! And what about permission to have some quiet time? Holidays with my family can be very loud and while I love this some of the time, it’s also nice to have some quiet time as well.

Serena: I do love my quiet time. I think I might give myself that gift along with a good cup of tea and maybe even a book! Along with that quiet time, we can also give ourselves permission to rest.

Tina: Oh yes, rest. You know that’s my favorite. I have been forced to rest as I recover with my hip and can really appreciate that it helps renew my energy and really help my body heal. And what about the sleep part of rest? You know it’s important, sleep is so important to my wellbeing.

Serena: I do know that. And I value sleep as well. All of these gifts can be wrapped together in a big box of self-care and we hope that no matter what you do this busy and stressful holiday season, that you do take the time to give yourself the gift of self-care.

Tina: And remember that all of the “gifts” we have suggested are part of that self-care. Self-care is anything that gives you a sense of renewal…anything from taking a deep breath to taking a walk to going on a ride to see the lights which I love.

Serena: So let’s insert a question of the week here before we close out the episode.

Tina: Alright. I have a question kind of related to the holidays. What activity might make you feel like a kid again?

Serena: So I’m going to go with winter and the holidays and I’m going to say, playing in the snow! Anything in the snow. Sledding, building a snow man, things like that! What about you Tina?

Tina: Awesome. I think being at home where I grew up at Christmas time with my family! We have so many traditions and being a part of that always make me feel like a kid again.

Serena: We will be taking next week off as a bit of a gift to ourselves, a little break, but will be back with a new episode on January 4th. If you haven’t listened to last year’s holiday episode, it was a fun one and it’s still one of our most popular episodes so go back and give it a listen!

Tina: Yes. So what gift will you give yourself this season Serena?

Serena: Perhaps acknowledging the viewpoints of others or declining the invitation to engage in conflict? And having your person to help you carry the hard stuff!

Tina: Yes and having good boundaries?

Serena: Maybe finding quiet time or time to rest?

Tina: Yeah. Sleep and self-care?

Serena: We do hope that you take the time to give yourself one of these gifts or maybe all of them or something else that you need during the holidays.

Tina: And so podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leaving us a review, subscribing and please share with others. You will find more content on our website, NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. You will also find an email address and we would love to hear from you by email.

Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.

Tina: Thanks again for listening!

Serena: Bye!