As soon as the colder weather hits, it seems like social media, TV, and department stores suddenly all slip into holiday mode, urging us to get ready for “the most wonderful time of the year!” But for many people, the holiday season isn’t always the most wonderful time. In fact, it can be pretty darn stressful!
According to a 2015 survey around holiday stress, 62 percent of survey respondents said that their stress levels felt “very or somewhat” elevated during the holiday season, with only 10 percent of respondents claiming they felt no stress during the season at all.
If you feel like your stress levels tend to fall into the “elevated” category every year, it may be because you’re not practicing self-care as much as you could. It’s a natural inclination to worry about other people during the holiday season (buying presents for loved ones, friends, and coworkers, dealing with family drama, helping those who need a lot of support during this time, etc.), but caring for yourself can help you avoid burnout and exhaustion, allowing you to actually have more energy for others!
Self-Care During the Holidays: Plan It Out!
One of the best ways to take care of yourself during the stressful holiday season is to plan. This is because an influx of holiday responsibilities can momentarily overwhelm our prefrontal cortex, which can lead to memory issues and even stop the production of new brain cells! When we plan out our day (or even a few weeks), there’s less of a chance of feeling overwhelmed.
Here’s just a small example of some easy self-care behaviors that revolve around scheduling and thinking ahead:
- Make a gift budget, and stick to it
- Shop for gifts as early as possible (this also means there’ll be more selection)
- Build in relaxation and recovery time during long travel days
- Cook and freeze foods ahead of the actual meal, or buy premade sides
- Eat sensibly before big gatherings, so you don’t end up binging at holiday meals
- Prioritize tasks that are important to you
- Ask for help from friends and family before you feel like you’re burned out (finish highlight)
Most importantly, make sure there’s time in your day, every day, for taking care of YOU. From indulging in a skin- and oral-care routine that makes you feel good, to watching your favorite shows, to getting in some physical activity, to simply sitting quietly for a few moments appreciating all that you have — these simple habits can help you live your best life, even during the busiest of times.