The holiday season is regarded as a happy, joyous time of year. People become friendlier, interactions feel kinder, and the celebrations seem endless.
However, for many people, the holidays can be challenging and stressful. Whether it’s the pressure of social obligations, juggling your normal schedule with all the extra holiday to-do’s or all that time with family . . . there are many stressful factors that come with the holidays.
But when we can maintain our mindfulness and cultivate an unwavering sense of calm, we can equip ourselves with the tools we need to navigate – and enjoy! – the holiday season with ease, and grace.
Hint: it’s all about self-care. But when it comes to self-care, these tips span beyond the typical “take a bath” and do something nice for yourself . . .
Read on for a few holiday self-care tips to help you maintain your healthiest and most positive mindset when the holidays become a bit much to handle.
Use These 7 Self-Care Tips for a Mindful, Calm and Enjoyable Holiday Season:
1. Set Intentions and Time to Reflect
In yoga, you may sometimes set an intention for your practice. As part of your holiday self-care regimen, take this practice off of your mat and set an intention each day.
Your daily intention can be something pretty general, or perhaps tailored to a certain commitment or challenge on your path that day.
When you set your intention, say it as though it were already true. For instance, rather than “I will try to be present,” try “I am present.”
If you will be encountering someone who is maybe a bit *difficult* to deal with, your intention may be something along the lines of, “I am positive and polite to everyone I encounter today.”
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Setting an intention first thing in the morning and following through with it for the rest of the day may be easier said than done. To ensure your intention doesn’t escape you, in addition to making time to set your intention, schedule time at the end of your day to reflect on how this played out.
One effective way to set intentions and reflect on them later is to journal. If you write your intention down, it becomes something tangible that you can see and look at, leaving your brain with a visual to come back to anytime you need.
By committing to reflect on this intention when the day is over, it’s as if you’re scheduling an appointment – with yourself – and you are more likely to think about it throughout the day. If journaling is not your thing, simply set aside a few minutes at the day’s end to reflect quietly to yourself on how your day went and whether your intention was present.
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2. Break a Sweat
Staying active during the holidays will not only help keep those extra pounds at bay with the abundance of treats available (looking at you, office potluck cookies), but exercising can also put you in a better mood, creating a more positive and empowered mind state to handle any stress or challenges that may come your way.
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As with meditation, even a little bit goes a long way, so try to squeeze in some activity before your day becomes hectic and gets away from you. If you struggle with anxiety and/or depression, exercise can be of great value – especially for holiday self-care.
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Whether your choice of exercise is yoga, running, lifting weights, pilates, or even something as simple as walking, make it a priority to include some form of activity in your daily routine during the holidays.
Other people may be looking to squeeze in their exercise, too, so include the family! For example, suggest everyone goes for a walk after dinner to avoid the “food coma” that comes after a hearty holiday meal.
3. Say No to Commitment Overload
Holiday self-care means being honest with yourself, your time, and your commitments. Attending different parties on a weekly basis can be draining physically and mentally – especially if you’re traveling a far distance.
This time of year is a wonderful opportunity to connect with people you don’t normally have a chance to spend time with, but you have to ask yourself just how much you can commit to, which is in itself an act of self-care.
When you begin receiving your invitations, consider prioritizing which are most important for you to attend.
If the friends you see every Friday for happy hour are having a holiday potluck on the same day your aunt who you haven’t seen for years is coming to town, it may be tempting to “split the day” and attend both gatherings – but when the time comes, this can lead to major stress.
4. Difficult Family Members? Try a New Approach
No family is perfect, and when groups of people gather together, there’s always a chance that tension will arise. If you’ve followed the holiday self-care tips above, you will be more well-equipped to put your best foot forward in these scenarios. Kudos to you!
If you do find yourself in an uncomfortable discussion, use these tips to diffuse the situation:
Listen with the intent to listen – not to respond
Family members disagree from time to time. If a light debate unfolds, it doesn’t hurt to listen to someone else’s opinion.
You can listen without responding, and perhaps take a moment to explain your point of view when the other person has finished speaking. But this doesn’t mean you have to try to change the other person’s mind.
Consider the source
Sometimes it’s best to simply let someone talk and not engage back at all.
Whether it’s the same uncle who says rude comments every time you see him, or if you know your cousin had a *little* too much to drink before making that insensitive remark, decide whether your response will change anything.
If you get the vibe that responding will either fuel the fire or feel like talking to a wall, understand that not everyone is the right person to have a conversation with – and that’s okay. Let it go and move on – for your own self-care and peace.
Be honest – but respectful
If someone is entering territory that you’re not comfortable talking about, it’s okay to change the subject.
You could bring the topic of conversation back to them by simply responding with, “I would rather not talk about that right now. I’d much rather talk about you – how are you doing?”
Remove yourself from the situation
When all else fails, it’s okay to just walk away.
5. Make Time for Meditation
Meditation is one of the most accessible tools you can use to reduce stress and stay present at any time of year, so it should have a place in your holiday self-care toolbox, too, whether you’re a seasoned meditator or a curious beginner.
Schedule time to meditate in the morning before your commitments for the day begin. Even if you’ve only got two minutes to take a few deep breaths, a little bit goes a long way.
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The practice of meditation embodies the belief that what you need to achieve happiness is already inside you – it doesn’t come gift-wrapped with a bow or have a 30-day return policy.
Although the holiday season is regarded as gift-giving season, it is an ideal time to remember that material things don’t bring us joy – that joy already lives within us.
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6. Give Back to Those Less Fortunate
The holiday season is an important time to pause and reflect on all the wonderful things we have. And part of holiday self-care means taking care of others and sharing this good fortune.
During this time of year, there is an abundance of opportunities to give back to your community and people who may not have as much as you do. Companies, yoga studios, libraries, and other organizations often organize food drives or collections at this time of year. If you don’t see anything going on near you, start one of your own!
If your schedule permits, consider donating your time, too. Maybe that’s volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen, writing letters to send overseas to military members who cannot be home with their families, or teaching a donation-based yoga class and giving the proceeds to a charity of your choice.
Giving back to others not only provides someone less fortunate with something they can appreciate, but it will also fill you up and make you feel good.
7. Allow Yourself Alone Time to Unwind
This holiday self-care tip correlates with commitment overload.
Regardless of your holiday schedule, you are allowed to politely say “no” to invites when you’re feeling overwhelmed or simply not up for it. A lot of social interaction can eventually become exhausting – for some people more than others.
Remember to carve out time to be alone with yourself and appreciate spending quality time fostering the most important relationship of all – the one with yourself. Schedule your alone time like you would any other social event this holiday season!
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Maintain Your Peace and Enjoy the Holiday Season With These Self-Care Tips
At the end of the day, remember that the holidays are meant to be enjoyed – so take a breath, smile, and allow yourself to unwind.
Following these 7 tips will help set you up for success so you feel empowered and calm to handle any challenges that come your way with ease and grace. Maintain your peace and act from a place of mindfulness this season.