Let’s talk: HOLIDAYS. Do you ever feel like they just completely sneak upon us? One minute they feel like some faraway, distant dream, and then the next minute… BAM… they show up, knocking at our front door? And sometimes, it can almost feel like the excitement leading up to it is just as exciting, if not MORE exciting, than the holiday itself?
There are a ton of different holidays at the end of the year, so regardless of what your personal beliefs are, chances are you’ll find yourself celebrating something pretty soon. Well, that… and the fact you ended up on this post. And since we are on that topic, seeing that you have found yourself reading this post, it is also safe to assume that you are the type of person who tends to put everyone else’s needs above your own. You are probably focused on making sure everybody else is having a happy holiday season, that you sometimes forget to prioritize your own needs. You care about others, and that is extremely important. But today, we want to remind you that it is okay to take care of yourself, too (psst, ESPECIALLY during the busyness of the holiday season).
Before we get into self-care and the holidays, let’s start off by talking about self-care in general. Self-care, quite literally, is the act of taking care of yourself. It seems so obvious, right? But let’s face it, a lot of us struggle to meet our own needs. Taking care of your own needs can sometimes feel pretty selfish. We may even feel like prioritizing our own needs is taking away from someone else. Think about it this way: before you fly, the flight attendant reminds everybody that, in the event of an emergency, to make sure we put on our own masks first before helping anyone else. They need to specifically tell us this because it goes against our instincts: when we care about others, we want to make sure they’re safe and taken care of. But imagine, for a second, the process of getting a mask on a scared, flailing child while you are gasping for air yourself, versus how much more level-headed you would feel with a steady flow of oxygen. When you have made sure that your own needs are taken care of (such as putting on your own oxygen mask), you will be able to show up even bigger and better for those around you.
The holidays can feel pretty stressful and overwhelming. We are doing things we don’t normally do, seeing people we don’t normally see, and the stores are busier. When our needs have not been taken care of, any number of things can set us off or stress us out. Think about how you feel when someone cuts you off when you are stressed and running on virtually no sleep, versus how you feel when you are more relaxed, well-rested, and taken care of. Self-care is something that should be prioritized throughout the entire year but may need a little extra TLC during the holiday season. Here are 10 ways to do just that.
10 Ways to Prioritize Self-Care This Holiday Season
1. Be present
Without even realizing it, our minds fill themselves with things that have already happened or things that are yet to come – and that isn’t necessarily our fault. When you think about it, at any given moment, we have countless distractions vying for our attention. We can feel the instant gratification of getting an answer to basically any thought that pops into our heads immediately. Wondering what you were doing 3 years ago today? Where the heck ketchup came from? Or what the weather will look like in 2 weeks? There’s an answer for that. This holiday season, try to focus your attention on being present. As overwhelming, stressful, or busy as the holidays may feel, the fact of the matter is that they only last for such a short amount of time. Before we know it, the new year will be here, and we will be faced with the cold and dark remainder of winter. Shift your focus to the present moment and enjoy the time we have now.
2. Set Limits
Take a second to check in with yourself, address your needs, and set limits where applicable. Do you find social media overwhelming? Set limits about when you log on or how long you stay on. Do you find it stressful to cook a huge, festive dinner? Set limits on how much you need to do by delegating parts of the meal to different people, preparing things in advance, or ordering side dishes. Regardless of what is you need, find ways to set healthy limits that can keep your focus on keeping the holidays fun and festive.
Disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the digital world, and focus on the here and now. We’ve spoken about this a ton, but the fact of the matter is that social media is a collection of highlight reels – it shows us a piece of the puzzle, but not the complete picture. It’s easy to get caught up in scrolling through post after post that makes everybody like they are the happiest they have ever been, complete with zero stress. But the fact of the matter is that that is likely not the case. Yes, we all have happy and exciting moments, but we also all have moments of stress – most of us, however, choose to only show the first one. We must stop comparing ourselves to what we see online, and one really good way to do that is to unplug. Unplug from social media in the evenings, and focus on the beautiful things that are happening in your own life right now.
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4. Prioritize sleep
During the holidays, we may find ourselves doing more: watching more movies, visiting more people, eating more tasty food, etc. We may find ourselves getting caught up in all of the excitement, that we may feel inclined to push sleep to the back burner. But the thing is that sleeping is one of the most (if not THE most important) things we can do for ourselves. As much as we may joke about how little sleep we need or how we survive predominantly off of coffee, sleep is crucial for our mental and physical health. So not only will prioritizing sleep keep us clear-minded and focused, but it will also help us to fight off potential sickness and recharge our batteries. Sleep is not something to skip out on, but rather, something to prioritize when life is feeling busy.
5. Practice Gratitude
This may feel obvious during the holidays, but in all that you do, remember to practice gratitude. We can easily be swept away by wanting more during the holidays: more gifts to give, more decorations for your home, more pictures to post online. Right now feels like a good time to note that striving to make this holiday season feel special is not a bad thing at all. However, this holiday season, try to focus on everything in your life that you are grateful for. When you focus on the good, the good gets better. If you are new to gratitude practices, check out our 7 daily gratitude practices here.
Is single-tasking even a word? Well, it is now. Studies are showing that multitasking isn’t as great as we once thought – the more we do, the less we can focus on. Not only does multitasking take longer to complete a task, but we are also more prone to making errors when we multitask. Instead of trying to get everything done at once, try just taking it task by task. Instead of wrapping presents while you order last-minute gifts and write out a menu for your holiday dinner, just focus on completing one task at a time. If you need to, keep a notepad close to you so you can write down anything important that may pop into your mind for you to do afterwards.
7. Nourish your body
The holiday season tends to bring a ton of tasty treats with it. Make sure you are also filling your body with the foods that nourish you and make YOU feel good. This will look different to everybody based on their own dietary needs, so make sure you listen to your body and do what works for you.
8. While still enjoying yourself
But with that said, remember that you are allowed to enjoy the food you are eating during the holidays, simple as that. Release any guilt you may be holding onto when it comes to what you are eating, and remember that life is all about balance.
No amount of gifts or holiday obligations are worth putting yourself into financial hardship. Remember that self-care comes from caring for yourself, and part of that includes making sure you have set (& stick to) a budget for the holidays. Even if your budget is small, this does not mean you can’t give any gifts. Get creative if you need to, and remember to have FUN.
10. Manage expectations
Let’s just go out on a limb and say that it is pretty tough to have the perfect holiday. The fact of the matter is that things happen, people get sick, presents don’t arrive on time, food burns, and life happens. A holiday doesn’t need to be the textbook definition of perfect to be fantastic. Manage any exceptions by releasing any pressure of feeling like everything needs to be done in one particular way, and instead, just focus on the feelings. At the end of the day, you deserve happiness and love in all you do.