The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. It brings together loved ones, prompts joy, but the reality is that it may also evoke stress as well. The ongoing pandemic also adds fuel to rising stress levels, so while this season is often full of love and happiness, for many, unpleasant feelings may be sparked as well. From Thanksgiving until we ring in the New Year, self-care is essential to protect yourself from the holiday blues. Thanks to Psychology Today, here are 6 ways to take care of yourself during this holiday season and create better beginnings for the New Year:
1.Make time for yourself
During the holiday season, it’s common to experience a surge in activities on your social calendar. It’s hard to practice self-care without the time. Even for the social butterfly, taking time for yourself is important to moderate the need for social activities.
2. Break from technology
The commercialization of the holidays paired with social media provides the perfect formula for competition and feelings of not being as good as someone else. Take time to align with your values and recognize what is important to you. Taking a break from technology can reduce these feelings as well. Try scheduling a certain amount of time each day or block out an hour or so where you won’t check your phone and/or give yourself a break from your computer (even if it’s work related.)
3. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is a gift that can help us broaden our perspective. It’s an excellent coping skill because it can be practiced at any time and it doesn’t cost a dime. Thankfulness is a gift that you can give yourself, but you may also choose to share your gratitude with others as well. If you catch yourself falling into negativity during the holidays, try to reflect on all that you are grateful for. Choosing to share gratitude with others can improve bonding and can spark warmth in your holiday gatherings.
4. Consider Closure
With the end of the year near, you may find yourself evaluating the months prior. As you prepare for the new year ahead you might realize that there are obstacles to your mental wellness that you have been carrying that you no longer wish to hold. Perhaps this is a conflict with a family member or an unhealthy habit you wish to cease. If you are ready and able, this is a great time to practice forgiveness. If your hopes are high, but you believe you are lacking the ability to address this concern, consider seeking professional assistance to help you achieve closure in the future.
5. Get regular exercise & eat healthy food
What you put in your body and how much you move each day impacts how you feel about yourself, physically and mentally. Practice making healthy food choices and just get yourself moving. Even if it’s short walks outside, running around with your kids during the holiday break, or something more intense like a bike ride, your body releases chemicals that can improve your mood and make you feel more relaxed. This can help you deal with stress and reduce your risk of depression.
6. Maintain your friendships
If the past two years have taught us anything is that we are social beings. We like to be around our friends and colleagues. With the pandemic getting together has been challenging and limiting, but there are still ways to maintain your friendships to allow for those special connections. If able to safely meet outside, schedule some time with your friend(s) to meet for a coffee or a game of basketball. If far away, schedule a virtual call using a video conferencing platform like FaceTime or Zoom, or just simply make a phone call and talk the hours away. With all the technology out there, it’s easier than ever to stay connected.
The holiday season is a busy and stressful time. It’s also common time for self-reflection. This is a good time for self-exploration as you acknowledge the year behind you and the fresh year ahead. Make note of all that went well and use the remaining gaps to empower yourself to set self-care goals for 2022.