As we’re navigating the holiday season—shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning, picking out presents, traveling, being with loved ones—what can happen is that we completely forget about ourselves.
We forget that we need care, too. We forget that we have needs, sensitivities, and preferences. We forget that we aren’t robots. We forget that we don’t have endless energy.
We get stressed out and stay that way. We stay up late and sleep less, trying to get everything done.
Of course, there can be lots of joy and wonder and magic in the hustle and bustle. The key is to remember yourself, too: to acknowledge that you also deserve caring even when things get hectic, even during a season of giving. Because it’s hard to give when you’re empty, exhausted, and annoyed.
Here are some ideas and examples of caring for yourself over the holiday season:
- Take regular deep breathing breaks throughout the day. This is also a good time to check in with your needs and see if you can meet them right then and there. This could be as simple as getting a drink of water or something yummy to eat.
- Every morning set your intention for how you’d like to be the rest of the day.
- Try to maintain some of your routines, especially the ones that really ground you, such as your evening ritual. If you’re pressed for time, do a shorter version.
- Any time during the day, spend five minutes journaling your response to: How am I feeling right now?
- Reflect on one or two boundaries you’d like to set so you can protect your alone time.
- Give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you enjoy—and enjoy it. That is, slowly savor each bite.
- Have a meaningful conversation with one person. (Relationships are a powerful part of self-care.)
- Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full—and forgive yourself when you don’t do either.
- Schedule one small thing every day that you like or love to do: Read a poem or sketch something silly for a few minutes; read a powerful memoir before bed; sip a cup of hot chocolate as you watch the sunrise; listen to holiday music as you cook dinner; have lunch with a friend at your favorite place.
- Spend ten minutes or more getting some fresh air every day.
- Get a new journal or planner, and think about what you’d like to create in the new year.
- Reflect on what replenishes you, and do that right now—and put it on your schedule for the next few weeks, too.
- Reflect on what you’d like your holidays to look like. These questions can get you started, and this piece has insights on having a minimalist, meaningful holiday.
- Be kind and gentle with yourself. Self-care isn’t just about our actions; it’s also about our attitude toward ourselves. It’s how we talk to ourselves on a daily basis—and when we’re struggling and frustrated and sad. So remember to treat yourself with respect, kindness, patience and understanding. Remember to be curious about your feelings, and your needs. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, if this is helpful to you, think of yourself as having two parts: the child in need of nurturing and support and the parent who’s happy to do the nurturing and supporting.
Of course, it’s totally OK if none of these ideas or examples resonate with you. I hope they remind you to compassionately take care of yourself regardless of how busy you are—and to think about your own needs, and how best to meet them.
I hope they remind you that you matter, too.