Self-Care Tips For The Holidays

Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season. It’s called “the most wonderful time of the year”. But between buying gifts, hosting parties, trying not to throw your Paleo lifestyle to the curb, and attending family gatherings, it can also be the most stressful time of the year.

Life has been stressful enough this year. Throw the holidays into the mix, and you could end up with fatigue, bouts of anxiety, or difficulty thinking clearly. Be alert to the ways you react to holiday gatherings and preparations. This is one time of the year when it’s especially important to take care of yourself.

As you handle your shopping, cooking, decorating, and socializing, use these self-care tips to ensure you don’t get an overdose of holiday fever.

Give Yourself Permission

It is natural when you begin to switch your thoughts to self-care to feel guilty, irresponsible or even selfish.  You need to give yourself permission.  Allow yourself to do “whatever” it is that you want.  If you want to say “no” to a certain event, or “no” to overspending on gifts, or “no” to hosting an event, give yourself the right to do what is best for you.  This is the beginning of self-care.  Learn to value the importance of setting boundaries. Slow down from the hustle and bustle and ask yourself, what you want to gain during the holiday season this year.  How can you make that happen?  What do you value most?  What type of traditions are important that you wish to maintain?

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Relax. . . & Repeat

Giving yourself time is a gift for a very deserving person.

What does relax mean to you? When you take time daily to calm your emotions, you are taking care of yourself. Relaxation techniques may include deep breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, reading a book, or practicing yoga. Get a relaxing massage or a rejuvenating treatment – whatever feeling relaxed means to YOU.

Practice Gratitude

Being thankful for what you have is a great way to turn a stressed-out mood into contentment. Take some time to keep a gratitude journal this holiday season. Being consistent with your journal is easier if you take a few minutes to write in it at the same time every day. Try it in the morning before you begin your day.

The items you are thankful for can be very basic. Are you thankful for the blue sky outside? Are you thankful for a hot shower in the morning? Whatever it is, write it down, and smile.

Avoid The Seasonal Hustle & Bustle

Plan ahead and designate specific time frames for the tasks that you need to complete or the functions that you will attend. This will give you time for mental preparation, allowing you to not be overwhelmed.  The malls and stores are extremely active at certain times of the day and week.  If possible, plan your shopping time during quieter hours, such as weekday mornings.  Shop online in the privacy of your home to avoid crowds all together.  When you do plan to be out in the crowds, calm your mind and body before going.  Realize there is no necessity to rush.  Take your time and enjoy the shopping process.  

Don’t be afraid to say no to activities that you don’t want to attend. It can be all too easy to over-schedule your life. Even during a pandemic, you may be invited to dozens of parties and gatherings.

Before accepting an invitation, think about it carefully. How much time or energy will it require from you? Is it worth it? 2021 may be the year you decide to concentrate on simple home activities and traditions.

Often times, by changing your perspective of the situation, you can approach things with calmness.  We do not need to become part of the holiday frenzy.  Create a sense of peace and joy, true holiday feelings, inside your mind and spirit.

Stick To A Plan When Indulging

Resist the temptation to overindulge in your favorite holiday foods and drinks – even too many Paleo versions of your favorite treats can leave you feeling less than your best. Setting up a few personal guidelines will help you get through the parties and urges to snack without feeling guilty about how much you ate. Your plan may limit you to two glasses of wine, or a small piece of your favorite desserts.

Make sure you also plan on eating healthy, nutritional foods during the holidays. Prepare yourself simple, nutritious meals in advance, so you can quickly get them ready. Remaining healthy and not indulging in too many non-Paleo foods or alcohol will help you control your anxiety.

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Move Your Body

Making time to exercise and move is vital. It doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym, or a vigorous 30-minute workout. Instead, plan on taking a walk outside every day. Connecting with nature is a proven way to reduce stress and increase positivity in yourself.

Your walk doesn’t have to be long or fast. Instead, work on being mindful as you exercise. Notice the way your arms and legs are moving. Breathe deep breaths. Listen to the sounds around you. Take note of the weather. This simple routine will help you feel better and more capable to handle the rest of your day.

Make sure your daily movement is relaxing. Walking while you are shopping or stretching while you are hanging holiday decorations doesn’t count. It is important to take time away from the activities that create anxiety.

For more tips on how to incorporate movement into your day, read on here

 Maintain Your Sleep Routine

This should be the number one tip because good, regular sleep is so important to your body. Lack of sleep or disrupted sleep will increase stress and anxiety. Regular sleep (we’re talking about 7-9 hours every night) helps your entire body rest and repair, leaving you with more energy during the day. 

Read here for more advice on establishing good sleep habits

 Spend A Day Doing Nothing

Do you need a vacation from your holiday? Giving yourself a day to rest and restart will help you survive the season. What will you do on your day of relaxation? Sleep in. Read a book. Watch people walk by on the sidewalk. Enjoy a favorite movie. Take time to pamper your body and restore your mind.

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Give up expectations

The holidays can set you up for unrealistic expectations. It almost seems a “magical” time of year and you might find yourself dreaming of the perfect holiday.  Many people struggle with depression and high anxiety over the holidays.  The crisis hotlines have an increase in calls.  Domestic violence rises.  Not everyone you meet is having a “Merry Christmas.”  Perhaps, you are one of the ones that struggle the most.  Past experiences, the loss of loved ones, the loss of a job or financial difficulty all seems to heighten during this time of year.  One of the best ways to take care of yourself during this emotionally trying time, is to give up your expectations of the perfect family with the perfect tree while hosting the perfect parties with the perfect gifts.  This type of thinking is extremely damaging to you.  As you relinquish these ideas, you are able to open yourself up to experiencing greater joy in the present.  Let go of false illusions and celebrate the moment.  Wherever you are in your life this year, take care of yourself first.  Practice self-love abundantly. This truly is the only way to experience the true meaning of the holidays
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