The holiday season can be a demanding and stressful time of the year. I find myself forgetting to prioritize self-care as I struggle to juggle a seemingly endless list of tasks: holiday baking, cleaning, cooking, last minute gift shopping, and entertaining family and friends.
When I place self-care on the backburner, I succumb to bad eating and sleeping habits as I deal with holiday stress. Although it’s difficult to maintain my regular self-care routine during the holiday season, I am making a concerted effort to take better care of myself this year. The following tips have helped me take better care of myself, and, even though I realize everyone has different self-care routines, I hope these tips can serve as a helpful guide to you this holiday season.
Identify the problem: know what makes you feel good, what bothers you, and where you draw the line. It’s much easier to deal with a difficult situation when you know what’s bothering you. It’s hard to come up with a solution when you don’t know the root cause of stress, anger, and discomfort, so take a moment to breathe and refocus. Prioritize your needs, and create a self-care routine that allows you to feel your best.
Make time for yourself. Although alone time can be hard to come by, spending 15 minutes to half an hour doing something I enjoy gives me a much-needed break from my busy day. Something as simple as sitting down with a cup of tea leaves me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of my to-do list.
Practice gratitude. Reminding myself of all the wonderful people and opportunities I am grateful for helps me stay positive. It also helps me better appreciate every single day, even if the days are busy and stressful. One way of doing this is by making gratitude lists at the end of the day. Examples of what I’ve been grateful for include waking up and being able to start a new day, having food on the table and fresh air to breathe.
Get enough sleep. Coffee is great, but nothing beats a good night’s sleep. Let your brain recharge itself! Sleep is probably the best thing you can do for yourself, and will keep you feeling rested and sharp.
Ask for help when you need it. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is realizing that your burden is too heavy for you to carry. Cooking, cleaning and gift shopping are time consuming and exhausting tasks. Split the tasks with your partner, or ask family and friends for help. You’ll be surprised—people are often more than happy to help!
Eat well. I feel the best when I’m eating whole foods that nourish me. Eating well and limiting sugary treats helps to keep my energy levels steady throughout the day. Don’t feel like you have to avoid holiday treats, but keep them as what they are: treats.
Exercise. Speaking of treats, exercise is a great way to not only stay healthy during the holiday season, but also to lift your mood. Going for a walk outside allows me to get some fresh air, and helps to relieve stress.
Have a potluck, and have people bring their own dishware and cutlery. This will save you time on cooking and cleaning! I love potlucks, because it ensures that there is a dish for everyone. I’m a vegetarian, and going to a potluck means I can prepare something for myself without hassling others.
Secret Santa. Secret Santa guarantees that everyone will receive a gift. Bonus: it saves everyone time and money.
As for unpleasant and less progressive relatives at family gatherings… I come from a large and very opinionated family, and someone almost always has an unpleasant comment about my weight, politics, or lifestyle choices. Recognizing that my opinions are important and knowing my worth has helped bolstered my confidence in discussing controversial topics with family members. If someone disagrees, I ask them why, and try to be genuinely interested in what they have to say. I politely agree to disagree, and explain why I hold the opinion I do. Most importantly, I remind myself that I am not obligated to spend time with someone who is blatantly offensive and/or goes out of their way to belittle me.
What do you do to take care of yourself over the holidays? Share your tips in the comments.