“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” For many, however, the holidays can be a time of increased stress and feelings of sadness. Our calendar of events and parties have us rushing and bustling about. Our healthy diets are tossed aside, and our sleep patterns are often overlooked. It is officially that time of year and another holiday season is upon us. So how do you make sure that you are taking care of yourself during this stressful time? This year give to yourself first in order to be emotionally and physically strong enough to then give to others.
Try one of these simple ways to take care of yourself during the holidays.
Put yourself at the top of your to-do list. To me, this is the most important and first step to take in practicing self-care. Give yourself permission to slow down and schedule a little time for yourself first thing in the morning. This will help set you up to move through your day with intention. Take time to enjoy the present and give yourself the gift of the present moment, even if this means ten minutes for a cup of tea or deep breathing. A gratitude journal to write down things you appreciate in your life is another great way to uplift yourself.
Take Time to Laugh and Enjoy Others: Humor is a great way to reduce stress, and so is spending time with others! Call or spend time with close family members and friends. Technology often gets in the way and can be a distraction when trying to savor the moment, so be sure to put your phone down and enjoy some quality time without screens. If you do not have any local family or friends, look for ways to get involved in the community such as volunteer opportunities.
Include Physical Activity. Most people skip their workout to make room for seasonal activities or because it is too cold outside. Staying active can help to reduce stress, improve mood and concentration, and help to burn extra calories. If you don’t have time to get to the gym, a 10-minute walk has proven health benefits. Bundle up if it’s cold and head outside to notice the magic of snow and neighbors holiday decorations. Schedule this into your day just as you would a work meeting or a lunch date with a friend!
Eat Well. It is okay to occasionally indulge in your favorite holiday treats, but be sure to also include lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains each day. Just as you should eat something before you go grocery shopping, eat something small before attending a holiday event. Filling up on the good stuff first will leave less room for holiday treats. And be the one to bring something healthy to the party! One of my favorite go-to items is a crudité platter with one or two different dipping sauces.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Whether your sleep schedule is off due to late night parties, eating sugary foods or just lying awake ruminating over your to-do list, make sure you devote time to getting sufficient rest. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that all adults get between seven and nine hours each night. Make a point to cut back on caffeine and alcohol in addition to treats and leftovers right before bed. Do your best to skip or limit napping to less than 30 minutes if you are having trouble sleeping at night. Take a warm bath and put away all electronics one hour before bed. Busy brain? Try some light reading or a few minutes of meditation to quiet your mind.
It is so easy to fall into the madness of the holiday season. I hope you take some time for yourself and refer back to this list when you are feeling overwhelmed! Afterall, self-care really is the best gift you can give yourself and everyone you love.