It’s “the most wonderful time of the year”.
Unfortunately, it’s also the most stressful time of the year. We’re all trying to do our best – buy presents for everyone we love, visit as much family as we can, eat all the delicious food, and suck down a bloody Mary or two. While our intentions are good, this can often lead to holiday burn out.
Self-care is important at all times, but especially during the holiday season. Sometimes it’s hard to justify spending time on yourself when you’re spending so much time making sure the season is perfect for others such as kids or family visiting from out of town.
Caring for others and caring for yourself are not mutually exclusive things. You can, and should, do both! The thing about self-care is that a little bit can really go a long way. Some prior planning and a commitment to being kind to yourself can be a complete holiday game changer. These are my 10 best tips for practicing self-care during the holidays.
Get your sleep
When I’m not getting enough sleep or even not getting good sleep, I’m not the best version of myself. I get moody quickly, my focus isn’t very good, and my eating habits get bad. Giving your brain and body that time to recharge is super important.
I have been getting better at unplugging when I need a break, but I still tend to feel a little guilty about it. The holidays is the one time of year when I can unplug and 100% not feel guilty. I love the feeling of being able to walk away from my phone for several hours. It helps me focus on being present with what’s going on around me and truly engaging with the people who are right there in front of me.
Honor your budget
If you set a gift giving budget or holiday travel budget – stick to it. When you’re tempted to over spend remind yourself why you came up with a budget in the first place. The overspending might not seem like a big deal at the moment, but when your credit card bill arrives in January and you’re stuck eating ramen noodles for a month you might be wishing you showed some discretion.
Make time for yourself
The holidays are all about togetherness and spending time with people you love, but don’t forget to make some extra time for yourself. We can’t expect to be running on all cylinders without giving ourselves some time to recharge. Curl up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate, draw yourself a warm bath, or watch Home Alone for the millionth time (I’m not the only one right?). Make time for something that will leave you feeling refreshed.
Treat your body well
As much as I wish I could eat Christmas cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the truth is too much sugar makes me feel lethargic and just plain icky. We shouldn’t use the holidays as an excuse to turn our bodies into a dumping ground. Stick with your normal eating routines as much as possible, and if you’re dreading your usual workouts find a way to make exercise fun. Something like sledding or ice skating is a great way to get in some exercise without it seeming like a chore.
Buy yourself a gift
I have been doing this every year since I was in high school and it is something I swear by. In fact, one year I wrapped the present I got myself, put it under the tree, and labeled it – To: Carrie, Love: Carrie. Seriously.
None of the gifts I’ve gotten myself have ever been extravagant. One year I bought myself a DVD I really wanted to own, another year I bought myself an hour long massage. Maybe there’s some shoes you’ve been eyeing for a while, but haven’t pulled the trigger on. Or maybe there’s something you typically wouldn’t buy (like an hour long massage) that you want to splurge on. Do something special for yourself.
We have so much to be thankful for! Family, friends, food, a home, the list goes on and on. When the stress of the holidays starts to get to me, I take a step back and reflect on everything I am so eternally grateful for. It really helps reframe my thinking and turn my stress into something I can be thankful for.
Indulge but don’t over indulge
Food, alcohol, shopping, all of it. Enjoy it, but don’t go crazy. It might be awesome in the moment, but when the dust settles, your stomachache, hangover, and empty wallet are going to be hurting.
Maintain your healthy habits
I don’t know about you but I’ve worked hard to develop some good healthy habits. Washing my face morning and night, reading my bible and journaling every day, drinking 8 cups of water per day – these are all habits I’ve developed and grown to appreciate. On a typical day, I have no problem following through will all of my healthy habits, but as we know, our days around the holidays are usually not typical.
Make it a point not to abandon these heathy habits just because you’re busy or stressed. I think you’ll find that honoring those habits and routines around the holiday will give you peace amongst the chaos.
Say “no” to things you honestly aren’t interested in or don’t have time for
I’m a people pleaser as it is, but something about the holidays always makes me want to say “yes” to literally every thing I’m asked to do. The truth is, while my intentions are good, the added stress these plans, events, and favors add to me are not worth it. I’d rather say “yes” to things and do them intentionally and 100%, then say “yes” and do them with zero zest at all. Decide on a nice way to decline offers you don’t want to partake in and stick with it.