It seems come the end of September, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” starts playing in stores and on the local radio stations. The holiday season in the United States has been dubbed this phrase for decades, yet it is easy to get caught up with everything you need to do for the holidays. Decorating your home, buying gifts for family and friends, planning for holiday dinners and gatherings, writing holiday cards, attending office holiday functions…the list goes on and on during the months of October-January. It’s no secret that holiday activities can leave little room for self-care, which eventually takes a toll on your physical and mental health.
Which leads me to this important PSA: it is super-duper important to take care of yourself more so during the holiday season! Having a few self-care options that you can employ when you are feeling overwhelmed will help you to enjoy and savor the holiday season sans the stress.
Sometimes we are the very last person on our own priority list during the holidays. So this holiday season, make YOU a priority by taking more time for yourself, outside of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Being in a constant reactive state creates much stress and chaos in our day to day lives. But when we know our priorities, we can be proactive in how we spend our time and energy. Creating boundaries around these priorities might be hard for some family members or friends to swallow during the holidays, but sticking to these boundaries will have a positive impact on your mental health, making this holiday season your best yet!
Nothing will bring you out of a funk quicker than reflecting upon what you are grateful for. A gratitude practice that you can employ during times of negative emotions will have you back out there enjoying the holiday season lickety-split.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “laughter is the best medicine.” There is much truth to this statement as laughing quickly shifts us from a low vibe state to one of joy and happiness. I don’t care if you have to laugh at yourself as the means of accomplishing this, just do it!
Taking deep belly breaths in and out a few times a day, every day of the holiday season, will help to relax your nervous system and allow for a clearer state of mind. Practicing meditation is also a fantastic way of relaxing and getting rid of all those unrealistic holiday expectations!
There isn’t a self-care article that I have written that doesn’t address the absolute, foundational need for quality 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! The holidays bring on additional stressors, later than usual bedtimes because of holiday activities, higher sugar and alcohol intake than other times of the year…all of which lead to a decrease in quality and quantity of sleep. If you can only accomplish one thing on this list, this would be it. Sleep effects so many things from our physical health to our mental health, and everything in between so do your best to make sure you are getting quality shut-eye this holiday season.
Similar to how the holidays effect sleep, the increase in sugar and alcohol effects our hydration as well. If you find yourself indulging in more holiday treats than what your normal diet consists of, or one too many cocktails, make sure you are upping your intake of H20! The general recommendation for hydration is ½ of your body weight in ounces, but if you can do ¾ of your body weight during the holidays, you’ll find yourself with more energy and less cravings.
This self-care tip is a standard one even in non-holiday times. Taking breaks from social media does wonders for our mental health. The constant comparison-itis that takes place when viewing social media effects our psyches on a deeper level than you may realize. And for those of us that have challenging relationships with our families or more difficult memories around the holidays, the last thing we want to be viewing is other people’s families, vacations, gifts, etc. So, take a break! Doesn’t have to be a long one, just a simple 24-hour social media fast will do wonders for your mind, body and spirit.
Having a self-care buddy is not only good for accountability, but given how isolated we have been during these “socially distanced” times, person to person physical interaction is more important than ever. Spending time with someone you care about and enjoying moments of self-care together are the things memories are made of!
It doesn’t take the holiday season for us to turn to sugar and alcohol when things start to feel stressful. BUT, the increased availability of sweet treats, carb laden side dishes and seasonal cocktails seems to contribute to the increase in weight gain many people see over this three-month period. To the extent you can limit your consumption of sugar and alcohol, do. And if you need to do a few extra downward facing dogs the next day to balance out an overindulgence, do that too!
Just remember, the holidays don’t have to be a super stressful time if you employ some of these tips every week of the holiday season. No one likes a bah-humbug, Ebenezer Scrooge…practice these tips and you’ll be jolly as ol’ St. Nick in no time.
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