The holidays are a time that are typically one of three things for most people; over scheduled busy, joyous but full of obligation, or often tainted by loss. Underneath all of these is stress, and with that our stress hormones spike up. They aren’t such a bad thing, except for when they are prolonged over a period of time. Even when it may not feel like you are super stressed from the Holidays, there can be a certain amount of pressure around this time of year to be social, be happy, and in general have a certain level of output at demand. It can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be.
This is the perfect time to focus in on putting energy back into yourself in at least equal parts, if not more than you give out. One thing, we all know at this point is that stress is terrible for our health. If that’s a leading cause of illness, mitigating that in our daily lives is just as important if not more than eating our vegetables. So this time of year, how do we make that a priority when there is so much else going on around us? Simple, we choose that putting ourselves first is the largest priority in our lives, second we focus on all of the ways putting energy into our needs is going to keep us healthy through this season. Here are 10 ways to make sure you’re taking care of yourself this holiday season.
- Carve out time for yourself
So many clients I work with often say they don’t have time for themselves. In general, most people have really demanding work schedules, on top of partnerships, kids and social lives. The big difference here, and that I always tell them is if you don’t make time, it won’t happen. It’s that simple, so choosing to make the time, to prioritize ‘you time’ is crucial to being there for the demanding schedule you have. Burning out, getting frustrated, angry or unhappy doesn’t serve you and it doesn’t serve anything else in your life that matters to you.
- Stimulate your spirituality
When was the last time that you did something that really connected you back to yourself and the belief in yourself? Schedule a yoga class, go to a sound bath, go on a solo-hike or take time to meditate. Think of what nourishes your deepest connection to yourself and then spend an hour or two doing just that thing. You will feel lighter, refreshed and completely fed in a sustainable way.
- Get outside
Being in nature is shown to shift brain chemistry and allow the prefrontal cortex to relax. It stimulates your cells and mitochondria in a healthy way. Nature allows your brain to slow down. It allows you to clear your mind, breathe in fresh air and remove yourself from the over stimulation that we experience every day. By constantly being over stimulated by noise, light, information, and social media we are stretching ourselves thin and also increasing our anxiety by being consistently “on”. We need time as humans to step back and reconnect with the Earth, with simplicity in nature to where we are inherently from. It’s vital that we reestablish this connection as it’s entirely what will save our Earth in return.
- Prioritize sleep
Sleep is essential, most of you “know” this. However, it is one of the biggest complaints of my clients because most people simply do not get enough of it. Especially for individuals in healing or managing a chronic illness it’s especially important to be getting adequate rest. Sleep is fundamental for recovery and each day our body has to recover from the stress we put it under with work and responsibilities. By creating a deceleration routine at night you can help get your body ready to sleep and most importantly take more time for yourself to connect back at the end of the day. Things like a gratitude journal, forming a routine with your partner, meditating, or self-massage all work really well for getting the body prepared for rest.
- Take a mental health day
I am going to let you in on a secret, mental health days are 100% a thing! I have had clients say, “Oh I’ve never done that before,” or “I’ve never thought that was an option.” For starters, if you work for yourself this is mostly declaring something as a mental health day and if you work for someone else you likely have to answer to someone or have sick days. I get that. No one necessarily wants to use your sick days, but if you are approaching the end of the year, and you haven’t used them, or have some extra vacation leave, seriously consider taking a day where you focus on doing something restorative for yourself where you do not have to think about work. It is crucial that we focus on our mental health just as much as our physical because they are innately connected.
- Soak in a bath
This feels cliché to include when I talk about self-care but it’s actually significant. The act of drawing yourself a bath, actually giving that to yourself and that time to be quiet with your thoughts is hugely powerful. Imagine if someone else drew a bath and lit candles for you. What would that feel like? Now gift that feeling and sense of love for yourself every time you take a bath. It’s a powerful shift when we use our mind to create our peace.
- Journal your thoughts
Journaling is a fundamental way to process emotions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed during the Holidays it’s time to pick up the pen and paper. To clear your head, getting what’s spinning in there out is incredibly important. Being able to process what you’re thinking, writing it down, and seeing it on paper alone is a huge release of energy and will make you feel so much better when you’re done. My journaling routine is fundamental in my connection my heart center.
- Make room for joy
As much as this is the season for stress, it is truly a season dedicated (or supposed to be) for joy. So make room for it. Let it in in whatever way you can. A recommendation I give to my clients is, find out the activities that bring you joy, set aside at least 10 minutes a day to do one of them. The goal is you would actually spend more time than that, but if not, you’ve got something for 10 minutes each day that brings you so much joy that you’re giddy, or grinning ear to ear, or feeling really satisfied with yourself. Identify those things, and then bring them in. Also be open to surprises, to spontaneous moments, to adventure and creating time in your schedule to allow for joy!
- Nourish your body
Eating well is so important during the Holidays. I know, from experience and also from client experiences that this can be really hard because there are SO many unhealthy temptations around. Even if they are Vegan, Paleo, whatever treats, they could still not be good for you. That’s the key is finding out what works and doesn’t work for you. That means choosing where and what to indulge in, and then eating to fuel your body the rest of the time. When we are under emotional or physical stress, eating nutritionally high quality food is key to supporting our body process all of the stress hormones and extra booze, cakes, cookies, etc it might get thrown in a month.
- Be sure to play
Just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean that play shouldn’t be a priority for you. Get creative. When was the last time you thought about being playful? Whether that’s with your significant other, your kids or just yourself. How can you bring more play into your life? One way is through movement. I share with clients that movement isn’t a chore, or punishment, rather it can be seen as play time. Think of being a kid, running, rolling, throwing, wrestling, dancing, around. You simply played and you did that mostly through movement. Consider the ways you can make room for play in your life and I guarantee you will be finding more satisfaction out of your day but also more joy in your life.
(Image used not my own)