7 self-care tips to get you through the busy holiday season

November 15, 2022 Christina DeBusk

Driver wearing Santa hat

The holiday season can be great in that it allows us to spend more time with the people we love. It can also be not-so-great by adding more to our already busy schedules. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in shopping for food and gifts, planning gatherings and cleaning before our guests arrive that taking care of ourselves often gets pushed aside.

However, practicing self-care is even more important when faced with the additional stress that holidays often bring. When we look after our health and wellness, it makes it easier to deal with whatever extra tasks are put on our to-do list. It also makes the days seem lighter because we don’t feel quite so weighted down.

Here are seven self-care tips that can help create this type of effect.

Manage your expectations

In a perfect world, the holidays come and go without any challenges. In reality, plans get changed last minute, guests arrive sooner (or later) than anticipated and the oven malfunctions in the middle of cooking your family’s favorite dessert.

Expecting that you will face some issues along the way can keep you from being surprised when they occur. It also allows you to bounce back more quickly because you knew they were coming.

Divide and conquer

A lot of people struggle with asking for help. At the same time, they’re also the first ones who are willing to help others—and they do this without a thought. If this sounds like you, remember that giving someone else the opportunity to help you enables them to feel as good as you do when helping others.

Divide your list into tasks that you need to do yourself and tasks you can pass off. Then ask others in your house or social circle to help with the things on the second list. This enables you to conquer more in less time, and you can use this saved time to do more of these tips, enjoy the company of those around you, or simply sit by yourself for a moment.

Don’t skimp on sleep

When you’re tired, it becomes harder to deal with even the tiniest of disruptions or hurdles. Being sleep-deprived can also cause you to snap at family and friends due to your patience being thin. The Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get 7-9 hours of rest per night.

Aim to get this amount most (if not all) nights of the week. This may require going to bed earlier than you’re used to or shortening your to-do list so your days aren’t so long. But the payoff will be there in how much better you feel.

Set aside time for yourself every single day

This self-care tip may seem impossible during the busiest time of the year. Yet, you don’t have to set aside a lot of time to feel benefits to your mental health. Even five minutes doing something that makes you feel good is often enough to lighten your mood. Every morning when you wake up, give yourself five minutes to sit with your coffee quietly and organize your thoughts.

At lunch, spend five minutes doing breathing exercises to energize you for the afternoon. End your day by writing in a gratitude journal for five minutes to remind you of all the things you are thankful for.

Get active (even without exercise)

Exercise causes your body to release endorphins. These are hormones that help you feel good. But you don’t need an all-out sweat session to enjoy exercise’s mental health benefits. Really, any physical activity will do.

If you don’t like to work out, take the dog for a walk around the block a couple of times each day or head outside and build a snowman with the kids. Household chores also count as physical activity, helping you to feel better while also wiping items off your to-do list.

Keep up with your physical health routines

If you don’t feel good physically, it’s tough to feel good mentally. The brain and the body are so interconnected that when you take care of one, you’re taking care of the other. This means sticking to any doctor’s appointments you may have and also taking time off if you feel ill.

Stay up on your medications and don’t forget to take your vitamins. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, plan meals and snacks around foods that are high in nutrients and do a few stretches to relax your body at the end of the day.

Take time to breathe

When you feel the holiday stress start to creep up, take a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe in. Feel the air as it enters your nostrils slowly. Hold the breath in your lungs for a count of four. Then, release the breath out of your mouth, feeling the weight of the world exit your body with it.

Do this a few times and it can help you feel more centered. It also slows your brain and body down enough so that you can enjoy the holiday season a bit too.

Worried about holiday winter driving? Read our tips to stay safe this season here.

About the Author

Christina M. DeBusk creates small business content for a variety of publications, some of which include Businessing Magazine, Compendent, Chiropractic Economics, and more. She is also the author behind the column, "The Successful Solopreneur.

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