The holidays can be a stressful time when self-care becomes more important than ever. You’re expected to attend all these social gatherings, there are financial stressors and there’s an underlying expectation for everything to be perfect. This can be stressful for anyone but is especially challenging for someone in recovery or dealing with a mental health condition. Our guide takes you through 12 days of tips for helping you manage your stress.
12 Tips for Self-Care This Holiday Season
1. Reflect on the Year
Consider taking a pause and reflecting on the year that’s almost over. Acknowledge the hardships you’ve overcome, the achievements you’ve earned and the happy moments. Remind yourself of the entire year so you can put the holidays into perspective and so they don’t feel quite as significant. We recommend writing down your reflections, as it can be an excellent therapeutic practice to see everything laid out in front of you.
2. Spend Time on Yourself
So much of the holidays are about social gatherings and sharing yourself with others. It’s one time in the year when you — usually — spend a lot of time and money on the other people in your life. And while that can feel great, it can also be overwhelming. You can practice self-care by making yourself a priority these holidays. Book yourself a massage, watch a funny movie, block off a day on your calendar for yourself or make plans to do your favorite activity.
3. A Different Kind of Inventory
Instead of listing tasks that need to be done, inventory how you’re doing. It can be easy to lose track of your mental well-being when you’re so busy. Stop and check in with yourself and be honest. Are you coping well and up for taking on everything you’ve lined up this holiday? The vital benefit of checking in early with yourself is identifying if you’re overwhelmed early on. You don’t have to let it spiral and get worse. As soon as you realize you’re not doing well, make some changes.
4. Prioritize Sleep
The holidays are probably one of the easiest times to skip out on sleep. You have gifts to buy, decorations to put up and parties to attend. And yet, because you’re going to be doing so much, this is the time you actually need to prioritize sleep. One of the core principles of self-care is getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night. Inadequate sleep has been linked to problems such as anxiety, depression and a weakened immune system.
Try to always go to sleep at the same time (even on weekends), block out light in your room and stop using electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.
5. Get Exercise
Exercise has enormous mental health benefits, from improving your mood to releasing endorphins. And while it might feel like the holidays are too busy to fit in exercise, you must make time for it. Try to incorporate regular exercise into your routine. You can go for walks during your lunch break, try a 30-day yoga challenge or sign up for classes close to your home. Getting this time in will help you sleep better, feel more energized and reduce your overall stress.
6. Avoid Overindulgence
The holiday season can often welcome indulgence, but try to avoid overspending, overeating and overdrinking. Trying to buy happiness won’t work, and overdrinking and overeating can leave you feeling ashamed, stressed and tired. Stick to a budget and a healthy diet and you’ll feel better all around.
7. Set Boundaries
If you know the holidays are generally challenging for you, set some expectations from the very beginning. Permit yourself to have boundaries with people. You can set limitations on how much you spend and how much social activity you’re willing to commit to. As soon as you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, try to scale things back. Self-care is about putting yourself first and understanding that you have the right to say no.
8. Manage Your Expectations
Going into this holiday season, it can be helpful to manage your expectations. This year especially may be different compared to usual holiday celebrations. People may choose not to travel, gatherings might be virtual and parties might be in small groups. Try to prepare yourself that different doesn’t have to mean bad.
9. Don’t Isolate Yourself
As tempting as it may be, it’s important not to isolate yourself this holiday season. If you don’t have friends or family in town, ask them to set up a virtual call, or consider attending a holiday work party or a local community gathering. While you may not initially feel up for these gatherings, you’ll probably find that after you attend them, you feel energized and happier.
10. Perform an Act of Kindness
The holidays are the perfect time to perform an act of kindness. When you take the time to do something nice for someone else, it can do wonders for your mood. Consider volunteering, buying a gift for someone special or donating to a great cause. Ultimately, this helps others, but it’s also good for you!
11. Do Something You Love
Don’t forget that the holiday season is also a time for you to celebrate. Take the time to do something you love this season, either with friends or family or just by yourself. You can bake some of your favorite treats, go ice skating or buy yourself a present. Or if you’ve found that the busyness of the season has caused you to drop a hobby, try picking it up again! When you do something you love, you’ll feel happier and refreshed for all the other holiday activities you have coming up.
12. Ask for Help
Holidays can be tough for many reasons. If you find yourself struggling with negative thoughts, feeling anxious or depressed or unable to cope, reach out for help. You don’t have to go through this alone. Sometimes, self-care simply means knowing when you’re not okay. Consider reaching out to friends, family, coworkers or a counselor for assistance when you need it.
If you know you struggle through the holidays, FHE Health can help. Our facility has helped thousands of individuals struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. And our team of counselors is available 24/7 this holiday season to help. All you have to do is call (844) 299-0618 to get started.