Keeping Up with Self-Care during the Holidays
“I might as well give up on getting enough sleep until January…”
“Eating well is just going to be impossible for the next few weeks, so why bother trying…”
“There’s no way I’ll be able to keep up my usual morning routine at my parents’ house over the holidays…”
If you’ve told yourself things like this as November turns into December and December inches toward January, then you’re in good company. Most people find it very difficult to stick to any routine or habits that they usually set for themselves during the holidays. It just seems like there are too many out-of-the-ordinary events and travel plans at this time of the year to possibly maintain any normalcy.
But this is just the time to deliberately plan more self-care strategies for your well-being. As busy schedules and potentially stressful social events build-up, the possibility of burnout grows stronger and stronger, and you need concrete plans in place – like the ones below – to fight it.
1. Plan out how you’ll arrange to stick to your usual routines.
Do you usually run 3 miles every morning before breakfast? Do you typically meditate for 15 minutes to start the day? Wake up just 15 minutes earlier on your busy holiday party hosting day so that you still have time to do so? Because you’ll have more activities and travels during the holidays than during regular life, the healthy, self-caring routines that you usually do won’t just naturally sustain themselves. That is if you don’t plan for them. It requires intentionality and thinking ahead to make sure that you don’t abandon them and gradually start to feel worse and worse as a result.
2. Eat a balanced meal before you go to a holiday party.
If healthy eating is a self-care strategy that you’re trying to work on (which it should be for all of us, basically), then try eating a balanced, nutritious meal before you go to a holiday party where you know there’ll be plenty of sweet treats and alcoholic indulgences. If you fill yourself up right before, then you’ll be less likely to go overboard at the party. Remember that drinking plenty of water is really helpful in this regard, too. If you keep guzzling it down, it can create a feeling of fullness in your belly even when you haven’t eaten much. As always, though, remember that the goal of healthy eating should always be to have a healthy body. It isn’t to meet unrealistic beauty standards, so indulging in some sweet treats over the holidays is to be expected and enjoyed!
3. Be proactive about avoiding your personal temptation triggers.
For those who have struggled with addictions in the past, the holidays can be a tempting time in several ways. Suppose you’re having a good time with friends. In that case, you can face the temptation of turning to alcohol or other substances to ratchet up that fun. Still, on the other hand, if you’re having a miserable time because of damaged relationships or losses that you’re remembering, you can face the temptation of turning to alcohol or substances to numb these feelings. Therefore, you’ll need to have a plan in place for what you’ll do to avoid these temptations. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr. Ingrid Mathieu offers one great example of how you might go about this if you’re sober in a holiday party setting: “Bring something that you would enjoy to the party. I’m fond of mocktails or fizzy drinks that look nice in fancy glasses. If you feel like you are taken care of, you won’t feel so left out when other guests are enjoying their holiday spritzer.”
Many people find themselves more sleep-deprived than usual during the holidays. Don’t overlook the benefits of a quick 20-30 minute snooze. Experts recommend this nap length if you want to re-energize yourself so that you’re able to stay focused and alert.
5. Plan a support system if you need one.
If you’re going home this holiday season to friends and family, you enjoy and look forward to seeing, good for you, and count your blessings! If you’re not, though, and instead see people who make you want to hide away in your room all day, then remember that you don’t have to go through that alone. Have a conversation with a friend before you leave for home where you just say, “Hey, I’m going to have a rough time with family this holiday season. Is it cool if I text you to vent when I need to? I just need someone to talk to without feeling like I’m bothering them.”
6. Limit social media time.
Social media triggers comparison. Comparing your life to other people’s lives – people who are actively trying to create a deceptively perfect public persona – is the last thing you need in your life. Especially if you already struggle with negative feelings or increased anxiety over the holidays. So if you’re home alone on a weekend night, pop in a movie or bake a tray of sugar cookie cut-outs; do whatever you have to limit that social media time to a small, confined segment – 10-15 minutes at the most is plenty.
Remember, taking care of yourself is not something you can afford to put on the back burner until the holidays are over. The more you prioritize your own overall health, the more you’ll be able to spread positivity to those around you.
Envision Wellness is a private practice that offers psychotherapy, psychological testing, and life coaching in Miami, FL. Our team has a passion for helping others achieve happy, fulfilling, and change-making lives that make the world a better place. Each therapist has their areas of expertise. Not sure who you’d like to work with? Click here to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult to help you decide.
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