Self Care Tips for the Holidays

The holiday season should be a time filled with joy, yet, for most people these months are filled with obligations, stress, and guilt.  Are you ready to make a change for the better?  Whether you are dreading the holiday season or are just trying to make room for you again in your out-of-control life, these tips will help you to get back on track and keep sane, healthy, and happy!

1.  Practice self care

Remember the demo that flight attendants give where they show how to put on your oxygen mask and then put on the oxygen masks for others?  At first glance this practice might seem selfish, but it makes sense that you can’t help anyone else if you run out of oxygen first.  Self care operates on the same principle.  You won’t have the patience, time, and energy to give to others if you are not taking care of yourself first.

So, what does self care mean?  It may look differently for each person, but the basic idea is to practice daily habits that foster health and happiness in your life.  Self care might be making time for a daily yoga or meditation practice, saving up for a monthly massage, or delegating projects at work if you find yourself consistently overburdened.  Regardless of what self care may look like to you, make a commitment to put yourself first.  That may sound like the opposite of the holiday spirit, but by making your needs a priority you will be happier, healthier, and in a better place to give your time and energy to others.

2.  Eat your veggies

At the risk of sounding like your mother I won’t give you a lecture about eating your green vegetables, but proper nutrition is the foundation for a healthy and happy life.  If you eat healthier foods, you are bound to feel healthier. It’s as simple as that!

The holidays are notorious for baked goods and heavy meals so make it simple for yourself by loading up at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits.  This will not only help you keep off weight this season, but it will give you more energy to cope with that busy holiday schedule!

3.  Get active

If you’re not already in a regular exercise routine, this is definitely the time to start.   Many gyms and fitness centers offer specials this time of year because of low enrollment.  However, if joining a gym or taking a new class sounds like too much of a financial commitment, make it simple for yourself by incorporating exercise into your life.  Make social dates with friends and take a walk.  Or, go for a run during your lunch break.  Walking is a great for all fitness levels and will give you a boost of energy as well as relieve stress!

4.  Be present with those you love

Many people work beyond forty hours a work and often bring work home on top of that.  Make your home a “no work” zone this season and focus on spending quality time with the people you love instead.  Turn off your phone, turn off the computer, and stop checking email past 5 pm.  Life is short and it’s important to make every moment count.

5.  Prioritize your time and learn to say no

People who feel overwhelmed with their schedule often have too much on their plate.  When was the last time that you turned down a commitment?  Start by prioritizing your time and learning to say “no” to things that aren’t on the top of your list.  Even though it may be hard to turn down an invite from a friend or a volunteer commitment, this opens up time in your life for things that are truly important to you.  It also eliminates guilt and stress because you are doing things that you want to do rather than have to.

6.  Get more sleep!

Recent studies show that most Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep per night.  No wonder we are so stressed and in poor health!  Sleep provides your body with time to heal and reenergize.  A lack of sleep not only takes its toll on your immune system, but it makes you tired and cranky!  Make a commitment to get at least 8 full hours of sleep and watch the positive impacts that it has on your mood and the rest of your life!

7.  Ask for help

The holidays should be a time for community and coming together.  It’s also a great time to learn to ask for help when you need it and find more support in your life.  Do you find yourself overwhelmed with responsibilities at home?  Talk to your spouse or roommates.  Maybe you need assistance with a volunteer project and want to reach out to friends.    Asking for what you really need from others will help you to find more balance in your life and create closer relationships with those around you.

8.  Throw out your inner critic.

One of the uglier parts of this season is the need for perfection – whether it is hosting the perfect party, having the best Christmas decorations on the block, or finding the perfect present for someone.   Of course you want to do your best, but it’s also important to be gentle with yourself and not aim for perfection if it starts to cause other harmful emotions like stress, anxiety, guilt, frustration or anger.  We tend to be most critical of ourselves and our actions so use this season as a reminder to practice grace with yourself as well as others.