6 Ways to Make Self-Care a Priority During the Holidays
Between the glow of twinkling lights and clinking of champagne flutes, the holidays can be fun, festive—or, for many of us who have said “yes!” to too many invites, battle chronic health issues or face a mounting sense of anxiety surrounding challenging social dynamics, the holidays can also leave us feeling emotionally and physically depleted. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Read on for six ways to make self-care a priority during the holidays—and get ready to feel more centered, sane and yes, joyful!, this season.
1. Put self-care on your schedule.
“So many of us live our lives according to our schedules, which are filled with work, social and family obligations,” says makeup artist and natural beauty activist Rebecca Casciano, founder of The Sacred Beauty Movement. “We have the best intentions to make time for things like reading, meditation and exercise, but when things get extra busy, it’s easy for these practices to fall by the wayside. When we schedule self-care appointments on our calendar, they get noticed (and hopefully attended to!) right along with that 1 p.m. meeting.”
It may feel odd at first to set up calendar reminders to take care of yourself, but seeing that reminder pop up on your screen holds you accountable—and reminds you to take that time out to see your mental, physical or emotional health.
2. Make opting out an option.
“Give yourself permission to opt out,” advises self-love and mindfulness coach Kelsey Fox Bennett, M.Ed, and founder of Abundant Living courses. “It’s easy to get over-booked during the holidays. Tune in and notice if this event or activity (or even food or drink) uplifts or drains you. If it’s the latter, then it might be time to opt out. Prioritize your favorites, schedule downtime and say, ‘No, thank you,’ as often as needed.”
Pay attention to what’s going on in your body as well: Is your breathing shallow? Is your stomach churning or your heart racing? Giving yourself permission to miss out may just alleviate these symptoms and help quiet your mind in the process.
3. Ritualize your self-care.
There’s a reason rituals have been around for thousands of years: They carry with them powerful emotional components that infuse physical acts with meaning. “This might sound basic, but it’s powerful!” Rebecca says. “When you approach an act of self-care with intention and mindfulness, you elevate it from a routine to a ritual. This brings much more joy and pleasure to simple things like sipping on warm lemon water or applying skincare. Mornings and evenings are great opportunities to focus on self-care, since you likely already have several rituals in place.”
4. Release what isn’t yours.
“Holidays can often result in challenging human interactions, but there is no need to carry energy or old stories that don’t belong to you,” Kelsey reminds us. “If you have someone in your life who is harsh or judgmental, breathe deeply and repeat these mantras: ‘This is not mine to carry. I release us. We are free.’”
Acknowledging what you’re feeling and then letting it go is empowering—not only are you owning whatever comes up, but you’re exercising your ability to not let it overtake you and dictate the outcome of your holidays. And that’s a self-care practice we can utilize all year long.
5. Remember: Self-care is our support system.
“I can definitely vouch for neglecting self-care when life gets busy,” admits Rebecca. “But what I’ve learned firsthand is that this is when we need it the most! When I prioritize work over my daily self-care practices, it’s not long before I notice myself feeling moody or disconnected,” she says.
But the payoffs for self-care are myriad, Rebecca promises. “When I take care of myself first, I can take care of my work, relationships and personal life with much more ease, connection and clarity.”
6. Maintain your joy!
“Stressful times are the most important times to maintain a daily self-love practice,” Kelsey says. “This does not have to be a lengthy activity. Choose one thing that brings you joy—writing, dancing, singing, stretching, reading, drinking tea, being outside, etc.—and commit to doing it for just a few minutes every day.” Simple acts of caring for yourself can boost your mood, and that can spill over, positively impacting all areas of your life.