Self care is super important during the holiday season, because it is so easy to become overwhelmed. How do we put the “me” back into Merry Christmas? A little self care can go a very long way during the holidays to de-stress ourselves and be able to enjoy the holidays even more.
There is so much going on during the holidays, from shopping to seeing family, parties, travel, cooking, and trying to prepare for it all. Along with whatever emotions, both negative and positive that we may be going through. Here are some excellent ways to practice self self-care during the busy holiday season.
Schedule time for yourself. Take the time for some self-care. This can include exercise, a hot bubble bath, meditation, a hobby you enjoy that relaxes you, reading, anything that helps you relax or focus on your health. For me when I go to the gym, I am able to focus just on that. Throw my phone in a locker, and there goes an hour without interruption. I’ve also started setting alarms and reminders when I am working, to take a break and move around some. Or even to remind myself that my self-care time has arrived and I need to take a break from whatever I am doing.
Practice gratitude I wrote a post about this last week called Giving Thanks. In it I had talked about telling the people around me how much I appreciated them, or saying I love you. Life is good, and we should appreciate the road that has lead us to where we are, and everything we’ve encountered along that road. Sometimes expressing this can be difficult, and maybe a journal about life and what you appreciate could be a great place to express things as well.
Relaxation skills can become very important. Practice some deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or even listening to some soothing music.
Don’t ignore emotions. We all know the holidays are supposed to be this happy magical time for everyone, but that may not always be the case. There are plenty of both negative and positive emotions going around during this time of year. That is OK. Embrace and allow whatever emotions that you are feeling. Because good or bad, they will not last forever, but ignoring them prolongs them and makes things worse. Be patient with yourself, don’t be afraid to call a time-out for yourself and just take the time to settle yourself down.
Understand the negative emotions. Now that we are embracing both the positive and negative emotions, many people don’t understand why they are upset. The holidays create this unrealistic expectation that everything needs to be perfect and the feeling of being overwhelmed can become a very intense feeling. Sometimes stepping back and accepting the reality that we can’t be perfect is amazing. Adjust goals and plans to something that is manageable for yourself. Emotional awareness is key here to managing our feelings.
Monitor stress levels. Think about your stress levels throughout the day, and where they range on a scale of 1-10. 1 being the least and 10 being the most. What are you doing when your stress level is reasonable and what are you doing when it starts to increase? Where are you? Is anyone specific around in either situation?
You could make some notes about this in a journal, or even simply in a note on your phone. Thinking about these things and making yourself notice will increase your awareness of situations, and that alone can give you the tools to manage it because when we train our brains (say train our brain 5 times fast) to note signs of stress, we are training our brain to respond differently as well.
Being aware of situations is the first step in changing the response. This can be the que for ourselves that it is time to go a different route. Maybe removing ourselves from the situation for a few minutes to get settled. Go take a quick walk, spend 5 minutes meditating, or whatever works for you.
Be present around presents. When was the last time you took a minute or two to just look around you? Taking in the environment. The sights, sounds, smells. I was driving with my husband the other day and he said something about snow, and I could not figure out where in the world he was seeing snow.
We were about half a mile from a hospital, and I was getting ready to suggest making a stop in there for a brain scan. He said, look up into the hills and it is obvious. Hey, guess what? Just by looking up, I saw snow too. Ok, so he isn’t crazy after all.
But it got me to thinking. When was the last time I really just looked around to see things like that? I’ve driven that road a billion times, so it all looks the same and it is easy to kind of zone out instead of taking the time to look around. If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘stop and smell the roses’ that is what I’m talking about here. It also made me wonder why I don’t take the time to enjoy all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the holidays.
Taking care of your physical health is even more important than ever during the holidays. I have a friend who is always asking me if I got enough sleep and I am drinking enough water. If not, she will direct me to, saying that my mother hen has spoken. Which always makes me smile, but it reminds me that my health is important too. If she understands that my health is so important when I’m getting busy with the holidays, why am I not making it a priority myself?
Because it is easy to forget. Flight attendants always say to put your own oxygen mask on before attempting to help others. Police clear a building to make sure there are no threats before attending to any victims. Why? Well, we can’t help anyone else if we are incapacitated, but also worn out, emotionally maxed out. We can max out credit cards, but it is easy to forget we can do that to ourselves both physically and emotionally too.
Think about it like a bank account. How many withdrawals can I make with no deposits before the account is in the red and there is nothing left? Humans are like that too. Can’t make withdrawals from the emotional bank account without some deposits first. Self care is the deposits we need to be making consistently.
I know many of these things can be used all year long, and quite honestly, they should be used all year long in order to give ourselves a running start on self-care and just our overall health. But during the holidays, we should be even more mindful that we need to take good care of ourselves.
This is something that I fully plan on doing in 2019. My own self care should be a priority no matter what time of the year it is. I find that when I take this time, it is much easier to give when the people around me need it. It isn’t stressful. But, it also seems like I give until the emotional bank account is overdrawn before I remember it is time for some self-care. I guess that is my new year’s resolution. To practice self care consistently.
I hope these tips give you ways to be better prepared for the holidays and be able to fully enjoy them. None of these things take a ton of time either. They are just simple shifts in thoughts, and a little time to relax each day. Because I matter. You matter. So we need to be encouraging each other to take proper care of themselves, and practice it ourselves as well.
Happy holidays from Erica at The Prepping Wife!