Of course, you don’t need permission from me for anything this holiday season. But just in case you needed to read the words from someone else, here they are:
You are allowed to eat whatever you like whenever you like.
You are allowed to wear whatever you like, whether someone likes it or not.
You are allowed to listen to your cravings, and to say yes to second helpings simply because they taste delicious. Similarly, you are allowed to say no to second helpings if you simply don’t want them.
You are allowed to say no to last-minute invitations if you don’t want to attend them.
You are allowed to be ecstatically happy or spectacularly sad.
You are allowed to be grateful or ungrateful.
You are allowed to grieve. The past. A person. A pet. A tradition. A longing. A goal. A whole year.
In other words, you are allowed to acknowledge and accept any feelings that arise, whether they fit the occasion or not.
You are allowed to take one or 10 things off your list so you have the energy and time to focus on what truly matters to you—which might be anything from connecting to loved ones to connecting to yourself. Which might be sitting on the couch and cracking up with your cousin. Which might be watching a sweet Hallmark movie. Which might be baking bad cookies with your best friend. Which might be sleeping in. Which might be taking a walk. Which might be going to see a movie. Which might be journaling or penning poetry or painting by yourself for an hour. Which might be sitting and listening to music that moves you. Which might be chatting into the night with your sister about life and nothing and silliness over too many cups of tea.
You are allowed to leave early.
You are allowed to change your mind.
You are allowed to cry.
You are allowed to feel lost and to struggle, even during a seemingly happy time, and to give yourself grace and kindness, too.
You are allowed to slow down.
You are allowed to think that you’re important, too.
You are allowed to change the subject when someone brings up dieting, your weight, their weight, the calories in those cookies, the resolutions they’re convinced they should set because they’ve been “bad,” because they can’t control themselves, because they must atone for some “sin”; and when someone makes any other comment that feels intrusive, inappropriate or awful. You are also allowed to leave the room.
You are allowed to skip social media and to stop comparing your holiday to others’ images or words (and to forgive yourself when you keep comparing).
You are allowed to skip alcohol, and to simply say, “No, thanks” or “I don’t drink,” without any explanation. You are allowed to feel good about this choice, regardless of what others might say. You are also allowed to feel unsure and shaky, and to say no anyway. After all, “not drinking is not a punishment. It is power.”
You are allowed to spend the next few days doing what feels right for you.
You are allowed to believe “it’s not beautiful.” But maybe “it’s not ugly either.”
Often we forget that we have all the permission in the world to listen to and to honor our needs. Yes, even during the holidays. Yes, even when it feels awkward. Yes, even when you’re unsure whether you actually deserve it.
Act like you do.
What if you did?