Self-Care Tips to Survive the Holiday Season
There’s no doubt about it:
The holiday season is stressful.
Which is why it’s especially important to make time for self-care.
The real kind of self-care.
Here are 18 ways to take care of yourself.
Set clear expectations
The holiday season tends to come with some pretty high expectations and a whole hell of a lot of pressure to perform. These are coming from our family, our friends, our coworkers, ourselves, and even from the random people we run into on the street. The social rule seems to be that we are all supposed to be happy and jovial and peppy with holiday cheer. Moreover, we are all supposed to be ready and eager for any and all holiday adventures, surprises, and activities.
Be proactive and take care of yourself this year by clarifying what people’s expectations are of you and what you expect of them. This will save everyone time, exasperation, and drama. If you have family visiting or you yourself are traveling, be clear on who will be staying where and for how long. If you’re cooking with others, decide who is cooking what and when. Whatever your plans are this season, keep open communication with the people involved to prevent misunderstandings, hurt feelings, disappointment, and frustration.
Create a budget and stick to it
It’s easy to say “Oh, it’s just once a year” over and over and over until you’ve overdrawn your account. Don’t let yourself slip into the red. Just because people are going out for drinks doesn’t mean you have to drink with them. Order a water and hang out. Just because other people are buying things doesn’t mean you have to as well. Create a budget and have the strength to stick to it. Being financially responsible doesn’t make you any less invested in the holiday festivities. It just makes sure you don’t completely undermine your financial well-being for the sake of impulse purchases and overindulgence.
Schedule time for yourself
We love our families… even when we need to be far, far away from them for our own sanity. Take some time for yourself this season, not only for your own mental health, but also for the health of your relationship with your family. Bring your book to a coffee shop, take walks outside, or see a movie. Whatever you do, make sure you have some time for yourself this season to stay centered and to stay sane.
Take some downtime and allow yourself to just be. Just because there is always something going on during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be a part of every single thing. Give yourself permission to relax. Now doesn’t have to be the time to get everything with everyone done all at once. Take your time sipping your warm beverages, engage in deep, meaningful conversations with people you don’t always get to see, and savor the beautiful moments as they come.
It’s okay to say no. Setting boundaries and expressing your needs is not selfish. It’s necessary for ensuring that you and the people you are with have a happy and healthy holiday season. Maybe you have a family member who has a tendency to gaslight you that you need to keep at a distance, or you chose not to attend a few parties to avoid unnecessary drama.
Remember, not only is it important to set boundaries, but also to enforce them. Stick to your no’s. We set boundaries to protect our health and well-being. If you are confronted by a friend or family member who is trying to pressure or guilt you into bending your boundaries, know that you don’t need to apologize for protecting yourself. You don’t have to feel like you need to explain yourself to others or to justify how you take care of your emotional well-being.
Balance your eating
Holidays often mean there is no shortage of tasty temptations: sugary desserts, snacky snacks, and fatty and carb-laden main dishes galore. Take care to balance your diet. Not because you shouldn’t be able to fully enjoy the holiday cheer, but to ensure that you do not bog your body down with overly rich foods. Although unbelievably tasty, if overindulged, these foods will leave you feeling sick, sluggish, and tired. Enjoy the holidays, but don’t overindulge to the point of sickness and discomfort. Moderation is key.
Be gentle with yourself and others
Things go wrong: nuts get burn, people make mistakes, and that’s okay. The holidays tend to be a season where the weather outside may be chilly, but emotions run hot. Try not to point fingers or start assigning blame. Take the pressure off of the traditionally high-pressure season and let go a little.
Get enough sleep
Sleep = energy. If you don’t get enough sleep, you won’t have enough energy to make it through the holiday festivities. Period. Sometimes, this means you need to turn in before others or sleep in past your alarm. It’s okay, you need it. Don’t overextend yourself this holiday season by overbooking yourself and burning your candle at both ends.
Don't give into FOMO
It’s impossible to do everything. Trying will result in nothing but disappointment and holiday burnout. As I said before, take some downtime and let yourself just be. Just because there is always something going on during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be a part of every single thing. If you’re always worried about what you might be missing out on, you’ll forget to enjoy everything you are a part of.
Keep a routine (to the best of your ability)
During the holidays, we have a tendency to throw all structure, routine, and schedules to the wind. Our days blend together and we struggle to stay oriented. Keep yourself centered throughout the season of parties, dinners, and gatherings by keeping a somewhat regular schedule. Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time everyday to structure your sleep schedule and center your body. Attempt to eat meals at regular times and keep up any workout programs. You don’t have to stick too closely to your usual routine, just enough to keep yourself grounded during the holidays and to keep the days slurring together. Keeping a routine will help you get the most out of your holidays and ease the transition back to normal life after the season is over.
Move your body
Stay active during the holiday season. Go for a walk, go skiing, do some yoga, anything. Offset the rich and sugary foods with some sweat. Keep your body moving not only to maintain your weight over the holidays, but also to stay sane. Exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress and to keep yourself centered. I have found that the more decadent foods I eat during the holidays, the less I want to move. The less I want to move, the more I eat and the worse I end up feeling. Break the cycle with some light stretches or a full-blown workout, whatever works best for you. Exercise is also an excellent way to get some time away from the holiday craziness and be by yourself for a few minutes.
Leave room in your schedule
Don’t miss out on beautiful moments because you feel the need to rush to the next activity on your overbooked itinerary. Holidays are generally the time when people plan vacations and travel to visit family and friends. Resist the temptation to overschedule yourself or your family. Booking yourself back-to-back-to-back will invariably lead to burnout and exhaustion. Leave room to breathe, rest, and eat. This will also provide the opportunity to more deeply enjoy the time you have as well as any holiday surprises that may arise.
The holidays are supposedly the season of giving, but that doesn’t have to apply only to material gifts. Sometimes, the gifts we really need for ourselves and from one another is gratitude and validation. It’s easy to become so swept up in the scheduling and bustle of the holidays that we take those around us for granted.
Take a moment to step back. Put down your mile-long to-do list and give thanks. Rather than focusing on everything you have left to do, to cook, and people to see, try focusing on everything that is already done. Shift your mindset and improve your mood. Sometimes, the logistics of holiday scheduling can leave us feeling inconvenienced by the people we love. During times like this, I try to take a step back and think about how lucky I am to have so many loved ones who I want to see and who want to see me. Instead of concentrating on getting through the holidays, emphasize the love, the people, and the togetherness that you are able to share.
Seek out positivity and warmth
It can be a stressful time of year. Large gatherings of people have a tendency to stir up drama and gossip. Steer clear. It can feel exciting to be included in juicy family gossip, but we all know that what goes around comes around. Don’t let yourself become part of the toxic cycle. To increase your chances of having a happy holidays, actively seek out positive people and activities you enjoy. In addition to this, be a source of positivity yourself. Feel free to smile, laugh, and express gratitude for the people you have to celebrate with in your life.
The holiday season is often associated with visions of relaxing and taking a break from the usual hecticness of life. However, instead of really resting, we often end up exchanging our regular routines for unscheduled and unstructured days jam-packed with events and social obligations. Put the break back in winter break and slow the f*ck down 🙂
Don’t get wrapped up in drama
Sparks fly when families gather. Hell, sparks fly when people gather. Don’t let petty differences and drama get in your way. Also, don’t feed into them. Drama is just toxic mental clutter. You don’t have any space or time for it.
Give yourself permission to do what you need to
The holidays are based around family time and togetherness. It’s the season where the wants of the group tend to overpower the needs of the individuals. It’s okay to say no, even if you had previously agreed to something. If you need to stay back and take time for yourself, that’s okay. Be straightforward and honest about your needs.
Indulge in moderation and intentionality
The holidays are a time for jubilation and celebration. Often, this means overdoing it when it comes to sweets, treats, alcohol, purchases, and activities. Set the intention to be conscientious about how you celebrate this holiday. This does not mean you cannot have any fun or take part in reindeer games. On the contrary, by knowing your limits you are able to more fully enjoy the festivities without burning out or feeling overwhelmed.
Also, who says you need to save up all our fun and celebration for the holiday season. Incorporate fun and festivity into the rest of the year, so you don’t feel the need to panic and shove it all into a few short weeks at the end of the year. Stop waiting for holidays, vacations, and breaks to enjoy your life.