If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all experienced holiday stress in some form or another. Sometimes it’s work-related, sometimes it’s family stuff, and sometimes it’s us taking on too much without having ways to cope with the stress. Holiday self-care is essential to coping with stress and finding balance.
It can be easy to forget that we have to make sure to take care of ourselves during this time of year. The stress of trying to get everything done in the short amount of time I have between work, holiday parties, final papers for classes, and preparation for holiday travel to see family is often overwhelming. I have a set of strategies that I use to deal with the stress of the holidays. You might find these useful for your own holidays.
Here are 10 holiday self-care tips to get you through this season:
Holiday Self-Care Tip #1: Move
If I can strongly suggest one thing on this list, it would be to find ways to keep moving at your most stressful moments. It’s hard for a lot of us in the winter to walk, but even if a walk involves taking a lap around your building or your house, it can be a way to get a handle on particular stress. During family holidays, it can be a great way to cope with family dysfunction and disagreements by opting to take a walk rather than engage with whatever is causing the stress. If you have a gym membership, use it.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #2: Write:
Write in a journal, write on a blank piece of paper, write on a post-it note. Take a few minutes, vent for as long as you need to, and then look for solutions to handle the situation or stress.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #3: Eat mindfully
It can be hard during this time of candy, cookies, holiday parties, and family dinners to remember that our bodies are not equipped to handle that much food. Don’t deprive yourself of yummy food, but do try to eat healthy meals on days where you know you will have at least one feast. Most importantly, don’t go to these great meals without having eaten anything at all that day. At the table, do your best to make mindful choices and limit the really sugary (and yummy) to a few bites or a small portion while bulking up on proteins, fruits, and veggies.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #4: Sleep
So much easier said than done at this time of year, but we all need sleep to lead productive and fulfilling lives. This time of year, sleep seems much harder because our brains are full of all the things we need to do and there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But we need sleep, and you will be much happier and useful with a decent amount of sleep each day. Experts recommend 7-8 hours, but you know your body best.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #5: Read
Make a point to read every day, even for a few minutes. Pick something that you enjoy and lose yourself in a good story or great prose (or poetry). Romance novels and YA novels are my favorite kinds of pleasure reading. Still, mystery novels, humor books, and biographies represent terrific reading options for pleasure. The opportunity to lose yourself even for a few minutes cannot be underestimated at times when you are really stressed.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #6: Meditate
For a few minutes a day, it can be tremendously helpful to sit in silence, clear your mind, and focus on your breathing to help center yourself. Like reading, meditation can help you remember to focus on yourself so you can give the holidays your full attention.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #7: Be creative
Whether you knit, crochet, quilt, build, carve, paint, draw, write, code, or color in coloring books, take some time to be creative during the holiday season. It doesn’t have to be related to presents. In fact, it might be better if it’s not.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #8: Set boundaries
Don’t be afraid to say no to friends, family, and others during this time to take care of yourself. It can be exhausting to have to try to do everything and be present with everyone. Folks will understand if you explain that you have a lot on your plate. Be nice about it and offer alternatives (hey, it’s a lot easier to find a dinner reservation in January).
Holiday Self-Care Tip #9: Prioritize
As part of setting boundaries, make daily plans that allow you to figure out what is the most important thing you have to take care of. Try to break everything down into smaller tasks and keep in mind that you have to have time for yourself even in the midst of last minute work deadlines.
Holiday Self-Care Tip #10: Let go
This is absolutely the hardest thing to do on this list because we all want to have control of stuff in our lives. It’s essential though that we recognize that we won’t get everything done on our to-do lists or that we might not be able to spend 4 hours at a holiday party. Letting go illuminates a form of control – this recognition that we need sleep, we need healthy food, we need time to decompress, and most importantly, we need to find balance in our lives.
It can be difficult to remember to take care of ourselves during the holiday season so I hope you find these holiday self-care tips as helpful as I have. The struggle is real, but we can make a difference in how we handle holiday stress by building time into every day to pay attention to our own self-care.
Do you have other tips for holiday self-care during this season? What do you find works best? Let me know in the comments below.