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7 Self Care Strategies for the Holiday Season Ahead

Suddenly, it feels like the holiday season is right around the corner. I can practically feel the warmth of a crackling fire, taste the hot chocolate and feel the relief of finishing exams from the first semester. The upcoming holidays are a truly magical time when we can all enjoy ourselves and practice gratitude – it is my favourite time of year. Despite the many things to love, the holidays can also create unnecessary stress for anyone who celebrates during this time. Feelings of anxiousness or burnout from the chaos of the holiday season is common and completely normal. Traveling back home and being away from school friends are just a few reasons why you may be feeling a bit blue this Christmas. To help rekindle your holiday spirit, I want to share 7 Self Care Strategies that I will be using this holiday season.

Prioritize

My family often says the holidays can feel like a blur. Plans with friends and family can seem never-ending. It’s practically impossible to see everyone between exams ending and classes starting up again in January. Be intentional with your time and consider your schedule before the break begins. Are there some things you would like to accomplish during your time away from school? Who would you like to visit?  How can you effectively set aside time for the things you would like to do? Prioritize what is most important to you, and leave the rest for a later date.

Save time for yourself

This works hand in hand with prioritizing your time. While considering what your holiday plans look like, be sure to block out time for self care. Overbooking yourself to please your loved ones may seem like the most generous thing to do, but it can quickly lead to social battery burnout. 

Maintain your regular routine

This is far easier said than done. However, it is known that a disturbance to one’s regular routine can contribute to even more stress. When traveling back home after being at school, or even if you live at home, try to keep the most important pieces of your day as part of your routine. This can include your wake-up or bedtimes, hydration, or additional self care. Most importantly, try not to drop your weekly exercise habits. If yoga at the Dalplex is a staple in your life (like mine), try an at-home YouTube video. That being said, the holidays are also a time to allow yourself to rest. Sleeping in when necessary, indulging in good food and skipping a day at the gym is more than okay. Be sure to listen to what your body is telling you, and be kind to yourself.

Practice grounding and being present             

Allowing yourself to be fully present is so rewarding. I know how easy it is to be focussed on the future, or the next thing you have to do. Yet, being present allows you to fully enjoy the moment that you’re in. If you’re in need of a simple grounding exercise to use in any social situation, try this: find five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. Not only does this allow for you to take a few breaths, but it’s also a great way to notice the special things about the holidays.

Find an expressive outlet

If you find yourself in overwhelming environments through the break, it is beneficial to find an expressive outlet to organize your thoughts and clear your mind. Whether you enjoy journaling, meditating, or speaking to someone you trust, there are endless options for ways to destress and express yourself if you’re feeling exhausted.

Keep connected, but slow your scroll

Technology is a wonderful tool that can keep us connected with friends when we’re all celebrating in different places. Reaching out to your Dalhousie and King’s family during the break is a great way to stay mindful. While our phones and social media are a gift, they can also be a cause of sadness or unnecessary stress during the holidays – or any time for that matter. It’s extremely easy to get caught up in the photos of influencers, or even our friends who are experiencing a “perfect version” of the holiday season. I can guarantee that limiting screen time is an instant mood booster, and I promise my mom isn’t the one editing this article. Use your phone to connect in the right ways. Text, or (even better) call the ones you may be missing, but be sure to fully experience the season as it unfolds.

Embrace imperfection

We all have Pinterest boards designed for what the holiday season should look like in our heads. Like I said, social media is a powerful contributor to these unachievable expectations. Real life is never that perfect – and chaos is inevitable around the holidays. If you’re feeling like your house is particularly insane, just know we’ve all been there. Embracing the craziness is the only way to survive the holidays. Be grateful for the good around you, no matter how small, and to try not to sweat the little things. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, or anything else – perhaps simply enjoying some time off of school – I hope your holidays are as restful as possible!

Elizabeth Malone

Dalhousie '25

Hey it's Elizabeth, I'm a first year Arts student at Dalhousie, hoping to double major in International Development Studies and Law! I love to journal, listen to music, take photos, and play all kinds of sports :) @elizabeth.malone_ on insta!
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