Self-Care for During the Holidays

What is supposed to be a “the most wonderful time of the year” and “merry and bright” can also be a time when tensions are high, and stress is more commonplace. Seeing extended family who always tend to share their unwarranted opinions, crunching finances to accommodate for holiday shopping, or re-experiencing the mourning of a loved one who you won’t be able to spend this season with all are reasons that the holidays can make anxiety, depression, and other mental health struggles more difficult to handle. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to be proactive about your well-being this holiday season, and prepare for the snow, Santa, and whatever else the month of December may bring.

  1. 1. Deck the Halls One Day at a Time

    Top view of person wearing Christmas socks standing in front of Christmas tree surrounded by presents

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and traditions that the winter season brings. However, it can all become overwhelming at the same time. One of the easiest things you can do is to take the month of December one day at a time. After I learned the tough but essential lesson to live in the present and to make the most of the moment in front of me, my anxiety greatly improved. There’s no point in trying to get all the gifts wrapped, the lights up outside, and the tree decorated all in one day – space out your holiday responsibilities. If you’re someone who likes agendas and making lists, or adding tasks to a calendar, do that. You could even use an advent calendar to get organized and in the holiday spirit! I personally like to see what mood I’m in – maybe I’ll wake up and want to bake some cookies to drop off at the neighbors one day – but whether you’re type a or type b, spacing out your holiday responsibilities will help ease the stress and tension brought on by thinking about the crazy amount of tasks you have to accomplish. And you only have as many tasks as you choose to –skipping some this year doesn’t make you a bad person.

  2. 2. Take a Hot Cocoa Break

    Hot chocolate

    Another suggestion is to remember to take breaks and to recognize that you can’t do it all. If you need some time to yourself, you are absolutely entitled to that and relaxing is not something to feel ashamed about. Between regular day to day responsibilities like work and school, adding the extra duties that come along with the holidays can seem daunting to say the least. Be sure to make time for yourself and take care of your mind, body, and spirit. Whether you do that by waking up early and sipping on a cup of tea or coffee as you watch the sunrise, hitting the gym for a late-night workout to clear your head, or taking a break from writing Christmas cards to watch your favorite show or holiday movie, remember to slow down and find peace. After all, peace on Earth is what the holiday season is all about! You deserve a break, whether it’s one, three, or 20. It’ll all get done, whether it’s right now or after you rest; which one do you think you’ll thank yourself for later?

  3. 3. Trim the Tree and ~Lighten~ Up

    The biggest piece of advice I have to help handle the holidays is to not take this season so seriously! Don’t worry about finding the perfect present, making the best meal, or the thought of having to deal with unideal relatives. At the end of the day, it only matters as much as you make it matter in your own mind. The holidays are all about being light-hearted and having fun while celebrating with your loved ones and finding gratitude for the years behind and ahead – don’t make it more than it is. Because at the end of the day, the holidays will pass by just like they do every year. You’ve survived all of the family disputes, burnt gingerbread cookies, and mistletoe mishaps so far, and now you can look back on what felt like disasters and laugh about it. Remember, you’ve made it through every holiday season that has come before, and you’ll get through this one too – you just have to believe in yourself as much as kids do in flying reindeer (that’s how the real holiday magic happens).

The holidays aren't for everyone, and you're not crazy or alone in feeling this way. I believe in you, and I know you can do this.

Happy holidays!