Ahh, the holiday season! While it’s usually meant to be a time of joy, but it can also turn into the most stressful time of the year. In between shopping, dinner preparations, and all the million things on our to do lists, making time to take care of ourselves can easily take the backseat. This is even more true in 2020 as we try and navigate all the additional pressures of the holidays, along with unknowns. Now, more than ever, self care during the holidays is vitally important.
Holiday Self Care
There are only so many hours in the day, and tackling everything can sure look impossible, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that no matter how packed your to-list may be, you should always make self-care a priority.
Self-care makes stressful days a little easier by giving you something to look forward to as you work through the necessities. Plus, by nourishing your body and mind, you’ll also keep your mental health in check and as a result, you’ll feel more energized for the holiday season (and enjoy doing so!).
How To Practice Self-Care During The Holiday Season
Schedule time for your favorite self-care activities
During hectic times, it can be easy to let time just slip by and soon you can’t believe how fast everything has flown by. That’s why it is so important to regularly schedule time for self-care.
It could be setting a time for going for a walk in your favourite park. Or perhaps sitting down with your tarot cards and a cup of tea in the evening for a few minutes. Having a bath and reading a good book before bed. Whatever gives you that ability to re-energize, block off some time in your schedule for it at least once a week during the busy holiday season.
By scheduling self-care, it’ll become part of your to-do list and something you can’t move to the next day. Make sure to honor and stick to it, no matter what!
One trick I have done this year is to schedule some sessions with friends or mentors. By booking times to meet (virtually or in person), I am blocking off those important times and committing myself to using that time to work on something important to me with friends and people I trust. Which can be even more empowering.
Regularly check in with yourself
How are you feeling? Is the holiday season stressing you out? If so, why do you think that is? Make sure to check in with yourself and ask yourself questions as to why you are feeling the way you’re feeling – especially if you find yourself experiencing negative emotions.
Remember that the holidays are meant to be joyful, and taking some things off your to do list is totally fine if that means your mental health will improve once you do so. Sometimes, unrealistic expectations can cause us to feel stress unnecessarily.
Readjusting goals is totally okay!
Make a list of triggers
I’ve already talked about the importance of checking in with yourself and your emotions, especially if they’re negative. Once you’ve done that, make a list of triggers. If you haven’t done this before, think about what is negatively affecting you. When you felt panic rising, or battled negative thoughts, what set that off? What caused those feelings to take over?
Once you know your triggers, consider if you can avoid those triggers. Not all triggering activities can be avoided, for those triggers, think of self care activities you can do after a trigger to help you find your equilibrium again. There may also be things you can do before you face a triggering situation to help you prepare and be at your strongest before entering a triggering experience.
These don’t need to be complicated self-care routines, but rather small actions. For many of us, going out for a quick walk when stress kicks in does the trick. So before tackling that busy store or visit with a relative you have a complicated relationship with, take a walk around the block.
Or perhaps a few minutes of meditation before or after a situation will help you find balance again. Whatever works for you, do just that!
Organize your to do list
It is important that you give yourself permission to readjust your goals if you feel you are struggling with your mental health. An easy way to do so is by organizing and prioritizing. Make a list of absolute musts, as well as another list of “would love to do this, but it’s not necessary”. Once the absolute musts are done (and yes, make sure self-care time is high up on this list), you can decide whether or not to move on to the next list.
As you look at your list, also consider where you can ask for help. Often we get so caught up in our busyness that we don’t realize that there are people around us that would happily take on some work. All it takes is to ask for their help.
Learn to say no
Even though there are obligations you simply can’t get out of, it’s okay to say no sometimes, especially when an event might take a toll on your mental health or you feel as though you’d rather use your time for something you find more enjoyable. Overscheduling is always a bad idea, but even more so during an already stressful time. Saying no to certain things – whatever your reason for not wanting to attend is – is totally okay!
Even though receiving presents and decorating the house is wonderful, it’s important to constantly practice gratitude for the smaller things in life. Make it a mission to practice gratitude daily, either by journaling about the things you feel thankful for, or simply taking a few minutes every day to think about the things you’re appreciative of.
Take time to also do some personal affirmations. Positive self talk is so important when we are busy, feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
Try new calming activities
I know, the holidays are already so crazy, why would you add more stuff? If you schedule in some activities that are calming and relaxing, it can help your overall mood and attitude.
Try some adult colouring pages, meditation, yoga, baking (if that is relaxing for you), reading an inspiring book, or a DIY activity like making pomanders or a special mirror. The idea is to change the pace of your day and your focus to give your mind a break.
Give self-care a holiday twist
Even though we should absolutely make ourselves a priority year-round, you can give your favorite self-care activities a little holiday twist. If you love taking baths, get yourself some Christmas-themed bath bombs. If aromatherapy is your jam, you can gift yourself some cypress-scented candles or cinnamon essential oils.
Add yourself to your gift list
As you run about doing your holiday shopping, don’t be afraid to give yourself a special gift this holiday season. Especially if it is something that will bring you joy, allow you to take better care of yourself, reduce your stress, and make your days easier.
Connect with your “why”
Most of all, take moments to just stop and focus on your “why”. There is a reason you are doing all of this. The why behind everything you do. Perhaps it is family, or maybe a career you are passionate about. The holidays involve so much running around and stress and pressure. Take a few moments to just stop and focus on your “why”. This will help put all the chaos of the holidays into perspective.
How will you be incorporating self care into your holiday season?