The holiday season should be about spending time with family, traditions, and giving.
Often it becomes financially, emotionally, and physically stressful instead. There are many demands on our wallets. We can feel overwhelmed by all the tasks on our to-do lists and pressure to create the “perfect” holiday. Our healthy eating and exercising habits often go out the window and are replaced by overindulging on large meals and baked goodies. At the time when we need self-care the most, we often neglect it.
But this holiday season can be different! Remember that you can’t run on an empty cup and that taking time to destress is the best gift you can give to yourself and your family. Make a plan for incorporating small (but important!) breaks into each day.
Take Care of Your Health
This year, commit to being mindful of your health during the holidays. It may take extra effort to stick to your healthy habits and not slip 100% into poor ones, but with a bit of focus, you will feel better and more able to enjoy the occasional indulgence. Here are some ideas:
- Maintain a fitness routine. Even if you need to make adjustments like working out at home instead of a gym or doing shorter workouts, your body will thank you!
- Eat healthy most of the time. You don’t need to say no to every indulgence offered during the holiday season or yes to everyone either. Maintain primarily healthy eating habits full of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Then make thoughtful decisions about larger meals and sweet treats. Skip the fast food at the mall while shopping, but enjoy a small slice of Aunt Sally’s famous pumpkin pie.
- Schedule an appointment. One way to keep our health top of mind is to schedule health care appointments during the holiday season. It may be the perfect opportunity with time off of work. Plus, it helps you stay focused on taking care of yourself!
Photo: Tommaso Altamura via 123RF
Incorporate Meditation and Mindfulness
If you are not already practicing meditation regularly, the busy holiday season may seem like a strange time to start. However, a few minutes a day can do wonders to relieve the stresses and feelings of overwhelm during this hectic time. Here are some small and quick ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into each day:
- Remember to breathe. At the core of any meditation practice is a focus on your breath. While we naturally breathe in and out without thinking about it, there are many benefits to slowing our breath down and doing it intentionally. It teaches us to be in the present moment and to block out distractions. It connects our brain and body, putting them in sync with each other. Deep breaths in and slow breaths out can relax our body and cleanse it of stale air.
- Apps. An app can be a helpful tool if you are new to mediation or worry you will get off your regular routine during the holidays. “Five Free Mindfulness Apps Worthy of Your Attention” provides how-to instructions, short exercises, and reminders.
- Be present during mindless tasks. If you are too busy to take a break to meditate, simply take opportunities while doing routine tasks. Practice deep breathing or being present while washing dishes, folding laundry, or wrapping presents. Another great time is when you transition from one task to another. Taking these opportunities throughout the day for some deep breaths will help you focus better on the next task, whether it is a work meeting or welcoming your kids home from school.
- Unplug. One of the best ways to be present in the joyful holiday moments is to unplug from your work and social media. Make a conscious effort to stay off your screens and connect with the people you love instead. That work email can wait; you deserve a break!
The holiday season can easily become about doing things for everyone else. If we don’t take time to also care for ourselves, we can feel resentful instead of joyful. Spending small moments of time pampering can make us feel refreshed, keeping our spirits bright all season long. Some simple ideas include:
- Take a nap. Late nights or early mornings trying to get it all done can catch up on us. Indulging in a midday or weekend nap can be just the right thing to catch up on some zzzs and rejuvenate yourself.
- Reading. Taking time to snuggle up with a good book and travel to another world is the perfect retreat for many people.
- Bath. A hot bath with candles and music or a soothing podcast can be a wonderful way to unwind, relax, and slow down.
- Nails, hair, massage. Schedule an appointment for your favorite pampering activity, such as a pedicure, haircut, or massage right when you know the holiday activities will be ramping up.
So how about it? Will you commit to incorporating self-care into your daily routines this holiday season? Imagine how much better you will feel and how you can be a positive role model for all your stressed-out friends and family members!