Traditionally, the holiday season was a time for families and friends to come together and reconnect. A time to celebrate the events of the year (LOL), share small but well-crafted, thoughtful gifts and to give thanks and acknowledge the passing of another year.
You know what it’s like…happy parents smiling lovingly at one another, enjoying a small glass of wine, while the kids play beautifully in front of a roaring fire and snow drifts gently down outside…Hmm…anyone recognising this? Anyone? No? I thought not. Stupid movies.
In reality, people are more likely to find you crying into your stuffing as you try to remember how many hours per pound the turkey needs to cook, what the actual point of this is in the first place, and why you thought it was a good idea to offer to host Christmas dinner this year, while steadily consuming your body weight in wine and mince pies to try and relieve the horrendous stress of creating ‘#ThePerfectChristmas’.
All while the kids either fight over the remote, new gadgets or newly broken toys. Or, if they are a little older, disappear into their rooms with their phones until they are forced to descend the stairs for a ‘happy’ Christmas dinner followed by the traditional family Christmas argument. Merry Christmas everyone!
After the year we’ve had, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been secretly thinking that they just can’t deal with any more stress and hassle this year. Christmas? Who decided to put that at the end of the year!?
But in reality (even though it may increase our stress levels exponentially) I’m sure many people will want to make up for the numerous losses and disappointments of the past 9 months and feel driven to make Christmas amazing. I’m with you all the way. In fact, my tree is already up!
So, knowing that we will all continue to rush around, try to do far too many things and make hundreds of promises we will probably regret, I have put together a comprehensive list of 25 practical ways to self-care over the holiday period. You might want to do one a day or save them up and have a proper self-care weekend.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you take time to look after yourself and your wellbeing. You will find it much easier to overcome unexpected challenges and look after others if you have looked after yourself first. Enjoy!
1. Give Yourself Permission to Practice Self-care!
You probably put everyone else first, but this is a sure fire way to feeling exhausted and stressed. Make 15 minutes every day and do something just for you. You deserve it!
2. Go for a Walk Outside - preferably somewhere green.
Get those thermals on, wrap up warmly, breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the magic. Just a 10 minute walk can improve your mood for 2 hours!
3. Create a Little Morning Routine.
Try spending 5-15 minutes sitting quietly with a cup of tea before everyone else is up. Use the time to meditate, plan or journal. Finish with a positive affirmation such as ‘I am strong enough to overcome life’s challenges’.
4. Respect Your Budget.
Once you have worked out what you can afford, stick to your budget! Be open with your family and think about creating a Christmas budget together. You will be setting a great example! (This might not feel like self-care, but trust me, prioritising this now will definitely help you feel more relaxed and happier in the long-term.)
5. Pay Attention to Your Screen Time.
It’s easy to spend hours falling into a social media blackhole, drooling over ‘The Perfect Christmas’ or to spend more time searching for gifts online than sleeping! Feeling pressure to compete with others can lead to frustration, depression and overspending. Try to be aware of how much time you are spending on line and make sure you take some phone breaks. Staying present (no pun intended) and enjoying the moment are more important than Instagram likes!
6. Take a Bath.
Relaxing in a warm bath with candlelight and some essentials oils can provide a welcome escape at this time of year. Try using Kiss The Moon’s Bedtime Bath Salts or Westlab’s Mulled Wine Festive Bathing Salts or for a relaxing and joyful experience, check out The Guilded Bee’s Joy Bath Soak.
Before Christmas Day, spend an hour getting rid of any broken toys or ornaments, old magazines and newspapers; mismatched, warped or damaged plastic food storage boxes, receipts you don’t need, shoes you haven’t worn in 5 years, old makeup, skincare you don’t use and sun-cream from last year. Doing this will give you sense of accomplishment and also create more space!
8. Get Active!
It’s tempting at this time of year to tell ourselves that we’re too busy to exercise, or that it’s too cold. But exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good, so it’s definitely worth making time for a 15 minute HIIT session or some gentle yoga. There are loads of free videos on YouTube. Always try to do something you enjoy!
9. Give Yourself Permission to Say No.
You don’t even need a reason or excuse. If you don’t feel up to it, making yourself do something you feel pressured into can increase stress and anxiety. If you feel you can’t say no, see if you can find a compromise that keeps everyone happy.
10. Eat Well Most Of The Time.
Christmas = snacks in our house. Mid-morning? Time for a little snack. Mid-afternoon? Don’t mind if I do! Eating your own weight in crisps, mince pies and nuts just seems to happen. So, this year I’m going to aim to eat healthily 90% of the time and really savour the few treats I really love. You don’t need to eat it just because it’s there, or because someone else is having something! (That’s mostly a reminder to myself…)
It’s common at this time of year to have a million and one thoughts running through your head at any one time. Journaling can help you recognise and either validate or challenge your thoughts or emotions and let off steam. It can also help you prioritise and organise your time.
12. Re-gift With Love.
Finding the perfect present can be expensive and stressful. If you have an item that you know a friend loves or would enjoy, think about re-gifting. You could write a friend a personal message in the front of a favourite book or give flowers in a beautiful vase you never use. Just make sure you are re-gifting thoughtfully and meaningfully. Giving gifts this way is also much better for the environment! David Attenborough would be proud.
‘Laughter is the best form of medicine,’ is a phrase that has been used for hundreds of years and scientific research supports it! So, pop on that comedy, call up an old friend for a catch up or Google ‘laughter yoga’. Once you get going, you won’t be able to stop!
14. One In, One Out!
Christmas can leave you wondering where on earth you are going to store everything. So, try using the one in, one out rule for gifts, clothing and household items. There are plenty or charities and organisations that can help you distribute any items that still have use left in them to people who really need them. Check out this article by Removal Reviews.
15. Try a Guided Meditation.
Download an app and have a go at meditation or mindful breathing. Calm and Headspace both provide a range of meditations, sleep stories and background music. Let’s Meditate is a wonderful app and is completely free too!
16. Read a Real Book.
Turn off the TV, mute your phone and find somewhere cosy to curl up under a blanket with a proper book. Try to choose something that speaks to your heart and soul.
17. Dance Like No-ones Watching!
Dancing can actually reduce stress and increase serotonin, the happy hormone. So, crank up the volume and bust out those moves; go for something upbeat to dance away any frustration or pent up emotions. Bonus points if you have a family dance off…
18. Try a Face Mask.
It’s a total self-care cliché, but our skin takes all kinds of abuse at this time of year. Chapped by the wind, rain and cold, roasted and dried by central heating; abused by alcohol and too much chocolate! It’s no wonder we sometimes feel our skin is against us during the holiday period. A facemask really can soothe your skin and at the very least forces you to relax for 15 minutes. Bonus points if you also put cucumber slices on your eyes! Try Yay For Clay! by Gruum (I love the pink clay mask), Garnier Nutri Bomb Milky Sheet Mask or Origins Overnight Hydrating Mask.
19. Take a Nap.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t recommend a nap and would tell you to try and stick to your sleep routine and get 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night. But, this time of year can feel extra exhausting, so a 20 minute re-charge nap will help you maintain your energy and focus.
It sounds silly really. I mean, it’s not as if you aren’t breathing right? But when we are stressed or really focused on something, we may breathe more shallowly than normal. So, reminding yourself to take some deep breaths every now and then will help re-oxygenate your brain and contribute to your wellbeing. Mindful breathing can also help alleviate anxiety, stress and frustration. So…breathe in for a count of 6, hold for 5 and breathe out for 7. Repeat.
21. Relax By Candlelight.
Treat yourself to a new scented candle and create a warm, festive atmosphere in which to relax. Try turning off the TV and listen to music you enjoy or an audiobook, while you snuggle up under a cosy blanket.
22. Do a Good Deed.
There are so many people and organisations in need; in our communities, our country and all over the world. This Christmas, why not add an extra present to your list and donate to a cause that is close to your heart? Not only will it benefit the charity, but it will also increase your own happiness and wellbeing.
23. Watch Your Favourite Movie.
Doing things we enjoy, increases momentary happiness in our lives, and re-watching movies we like can bring back memories of happy times in our past. I love watching ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ at this time of year because it gives me hope and makes me feel happy. That being said, it also makes me wail like a new-born baby… (However, I’m also in the ‘Die Hard is Totally a Christmas Film’ camp… so what do I know?)
24. Play a Game.
Play is something we often forget to make time for as grown ups and we let ‘adulting’ take over our lives. Just remember, we are all big kids at heart and some of those childhood games can be just what you need to rediscover the power of play. Why not try tag? Or the floor is lava? Or build an amazing pillow fort and enjoy some hot chocolate and stories inside it? At the very least break out that old classic, charades. Now, how do you act out ‘Amelie’...?
25. Practise Forgiveness.
It might not feel like it, but forgiveness is one of the best gifts you can give someone at this time of year. Not only will it heal their heart and soul, but it will also heal yours, and leave you feeling lighter and more energised. Just remember that you don’t always need an apology to forgive someone.
So, there you go, 25 Ways to Self-Care Over the Holiday Period. I hope you find the suggestions useful and that they bring you some well-earned moments of peace and relaxation this holiday season. Merry Christmas everyone.
NB. Please be mindful that Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone. Try not to pressure others into feeling jolly and festive. Some people might need you to show compassion and talk about something other than Christmas, or maybe just be there for them when they need you.
P.S. I haven't received any money or goods for the sites or products I have recommended. I just like them and thought you would too. :-)
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