When the phrase “Happy Holidays” starts to feel a little hollow, it may be a red flag that you aren’t doing enough to take care of yourself this season. It’s a common trend, as we get so wrapped up in the needs and wants of others that personal time and personal care go by the wayside. This holiday season don’t let yourself get too focused on buying every gift that everyone on your list wants or attending every party you get invited to. #BeTheDifference by following these self-care tips to get through the holiday season with your physical health and, perhaps more importantly, your mental health intact.
Plan a little time for yourself.
Even if your holiday schedule isn’t crammed and you tend to look forward to family holiday celebrations rather than dread them, the season can be an overstimulating one. Traffic is worse, grocery stores are more crowded, public spaces are hosting event after event—that’s a lot of noise and sights to take in, and it’s easy to feel stressed. Take a breather each day with some quiet time to yourself. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee alone in the park, drive to work with the sound off on the radio, or take a short walk around the neighborhood after work. This time should be to gather your thoughts and enjoy some peace and quiet, so make it a moment where you unplug and avoid looking at your phone, which will only draw you back towards the chaos.
Let go of the expectation for perfection.
One area where many of us get hung up during the holidays is the need for perfection. However, this isn’t a realistic expectation of anyone, so you shouldn’t put it on yourself. If the roast is overcooked or you can’t make the neighbor’s holiday party, don’t let it ruin your spirits. Simply let go of all the details that don’t matter in the long-run and focus your attention on the aspects of the holidays that really mean something to you. As an example, you might shift from a formal sit-down Christmas dinner to a family potluck, so you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen and you can still enjoy the company of family while hosting at home.
You might also rethink the way you approach holiday gifts, if you’re under financial pressure with the season of spending. Collaborate with friends and family to set up a gift swap or secret Santa, so you each only have to buy one gift. Or, plan for shared experiences later on. For example, you might give a card to a friend as an IOU for lunch together after the holidays instead of a traditional gift.
Don’t give up on exercise (or healthy eating).
Exercise is always one of the best ways to relieve stress, but it’s often the first thing that we tend to give up when feeling stressed and stretched in our schedules. If you can’t get a full workout in, that’s okay. Maybe you compromise for a shorter walk or even a few squats between wrapping gifts and running errands.
Healthy eating is another habit that’s all too easy to give up for the season, but moving away from a healthy diet will only make you feel worse. Sure, you might indulge in some cookies or eggnog at gatherings, but your day to day eating habits should stay the same as any other time of year. Do your best to eat three balanced meals per day and carry some healthy snacks with you during the day to keep you away from fast food and holiday treat temptations.
Pass on the cocktails.
It’s not uncommon to imbibe at holiday gatherings, but it’s often overdone—usually as an emotional response to difficult feelings like meeting a significant other’s family for the first time or coping with a recent loss. So, you might not cut yourself off entirely this holiday, but it may be helpful to think before you drink so that you recognize when you’re doing it to have fun and when you might be trying to cope with something else entirely.
Start new traditions.
Self-care doesn’t have to mean self-deprivation. If you feel like you’re taking something away from your holiday traditions to live a healthier life, then it’s helpful to build new traditions that can add something better for the family. For example, you can skip putting up the holiday decorations at home and take the family to a local tree lighting ceremony instead.
When the holidays are too much, and you need more help getting to January, MeMD is there for you. We can connect you with a behavioral healthcare provider and set an online appointment in minutes, so you don’t have to suffer in silence this season.