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It’s Tuesday – is your Thanksgiving prep done? I shook my head as I read a checklist that said prep should be finished at least 2 days before the big event. Ah, after fighting rush hour traffic following a long day at work, doesn’t pushing yourself to chop vegetables before you go to bed sound appealing? Probably not!

The November series, Soak It In, has looked at fresh ways to practice self-care. In the midst of end of year mayhem, I have a bold proposal: lengthen your To Do list by putting your self-care routine at the top. Before you insist on continuing to put everyone and everything else first, consider Gretchen Rubin’s study about the pitfalls of “shared work”.

She notes, “Work done by other people sounds easy.” If you’re already chopping vegetables, or if you know you’re in for hours of clean-up, you’re probably shaking your head in agreement. Meghan Blair-Valero commented about the women in her family, “Thanksgiving Day turkey martyrdom is all too common in American homes and we were no exception.” In fact, she’s renamed Thanksgiving “Stress City.”

This ties in to Rubin’s second finding: “When you’re doing a job that benefits other people, it’s easy to assume that they feel conscious of the fact that you’re doing the work – that they should feel grateful, and that they should and do feel guilty about not helping you.” Writer Sean Braswell has skipped over the guilt and freely admits he’s kind of hopeless. He joked, “In nearly four decades of enjoying turkeys and the savory delights of countless Thanksgivings, the sum total of my culinary contribution to the festivities probably amounts to a few dozen bread rolls, one botched batch of mashed potatoes and warming up some premade pies.”

These bad habits and stereotypes are rampant during the holidays, and that’s why it’s important to lengthen your To Do list to include daily self-care. Impossible when there’s so much to do, you say? Rethink your approach.

Jim and Jackie had a mishap with their electricians. The cable line wasn’t mapped correctly, and one stroke of the shovel put their internet and phone out for days. Annoying? Absolutely. But Jim smiled and noted, “We’re actually talking more. I’m liking it!” Self-care tip #1: at least one day or part of a day every week, make your space a no device zone.

Toni decided it was time for her 10 year old to help out in the kitchen. Now she puts her feet up while he loads and empties the dishwasher. She laughs, “I’m always surprised where I find my favorite utensils, but that’s the way it goes!” Self-care tip #2: ask for help, and then show some grace about the results.

Kieran has started cutting his Guys Night Out a little short. He explained, “I like going out after work, but 2 beers is enough for me.” Self-care tip #3: leaving some holiday celebrations before things get out of hand is often the right move.

This is the season to put yourself back on the list. Don’t do it once in a while. Do it all the time and enjoy the results. In fact, soak it in.