Holidays can be stressful, even in the best of times. As we navigate a new way to celebrate the holidays, including being physically separated from loved ones, it becomes essential to make caring for yourself a priority. Here are some ideas on how to reduce your stress and increase your enjoyment of the holiday season.
One of the most important things you can do is stay active, especially outdoors. Exercising helps to improve mood in addition to improving overall physical health. And being outdoors in the sunshine will help you process vitamin D. Did you know that lower levels of vitamin D can contribute to depression? All the more reason to soak up the wintery sunshine!
Create a “shut down ritual”
When you leave the house, you have a ritual. You lock the door, you grab your keys, you close the garage door as you back away. Everyday life also needs a similar routine to signal to our brain that it’s ok to stop engaging with work, holiday shopping, the news, social media, etc. One powerful form of self-care is developing a simple routine you look forward to and that, with practice, helps your mind leave behind the day’s worries.
Self-care looks like a lot of different things to different people, so there is no wrong way to practice it. Some ideas include:
- Taking a bath
- Lighting scented candles
- Relaxing with a book
- Listening to music
- Meditating or practicing yoga
- Getting a massage
- Getting plenty of rest
- Staying hydrated
- Splurging on something for yourself
- Doing breathing exercises
- Going for the long run
- Trying a new kind of exercise
Connect with people
Staying safe doesn’t mean you need to lose contact with the people you care about. Schedule group zoom calls to keep in touch with family and friends. Have virtual game nights or movie watch parties. Eat dinner together. The only limit is the imagination.
Exercising together outside is also a reasonably safe activity. Now may be the time to start that small walking group you’ve always wanted to get going on your street. Many neighborhoods also have local dog meetup groups. Puppy playdates are a great way to see and chat with other people while still social distancing.
Sometimes the best way to de-stress is to write it out. Spend a few minutes everyday journaling. The best part? No one else will never need to see it.
Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t make it less impactful. Spend time thinking of the things you’re grateful for to get an immediate mood boost. Writing down your thoughts or sharing them with others—especially if that person is one of the blessings you’re counting—is a great way to uplift more than just yourself.
It’s hard to eat healthfully around the holidays, but making some mindful changes can help turn your favorite holiday dish into something that’s as good for you as it is delicious. Since we’re all going to so many fewer gatherings this year, one silver lining is that we’re all in more control of the food that crosses our paths. Take advantage of this to experiment with your own food interests this holiday.
Make a date…with yourself
Don’t be afraid to schedule time for yourself. Putting it into your calendar and treating it like an appointment will help you stick to your goal of taking a little time for yourself. If you have other people in your household, make sure they know about your blocked-out “me-time” so they can be supportive.
No matter how you choose to do it, make taking care of yourself a priority this holiday season. Stay safe, and don’t forget to laugh!