It’s easy to slip up on both our physical and mental wellness routines during the holiday season. And while these final months of the year should be filled with delicious food, festive drink and skipping the gym once or twice, beware of taking too many days off from your self-care rituals. If you forgo taking time for yourself over the next few weeks, you might find it difficult to be present for others.
Are we suggesting you skip Thanksgiving brunch to attend a yoga class? Absolutely not. But if a few sun salutations help to center you for the day, set your alarm 30 minutes early and do a few downward dogs in the living room.
Use this checklist to plan your self-care so that you can enjoy the upcoming holidays to their fullest.
- Take time for yourself
It is easy to feel lost or overwhelmed during all of the holiday craze. Even if you’re traveling during the holidays, plan ways to decompress when necessary. Make a list of your triggers and know yourself well enough to have a game plan in place for when your stress or social anxiety is triggered to a point that it begins to show. Then consider tools that can help you focus on a positive mindset so you can rejoin the festivities with ease.
- Be mindful about alcohol use
There’s a reason 20% of Americans commit to Dry January every year. The holiday season can be heavy on alcohol use. You may feel tempted to resort to drink to take the edge off of holiday stress or to socially connect with family and friends. Should you decide to use alcohol, try being mindful and intentional about your use. Set a personal limit that makes you feel healthy and in control. And always check in with yourself before your next glass to make a conscious decision about whether or not it’s what your body – and mind – are asking for.
- Take care of yourself when interacting with family
Holiday gatherings often means being in close quarters with people you may not see the rest of the year. For some, family events are fun and enjoyable. For most of us, they’re sprinkled with anxiety and stress. Be cognizant of difficult family dynamics that you often struggle with, and know it’s okay to excuse yourself from an unwanted social situation. Consider having a self-care buddy – someone you can check in with in-person or over the phone to discuss how you’re feeling. Always remember that the crisis text line is available if you don’t know who to contact in a moment of stress.
- Practice a healthy relationship with food
You might feel pressured to fill up on delicious holiday treats. And while you deserve to treat yourself during the holidays, it’s important to maintain balance and listen to your body’s cues for hunger, fullness and satiation. Check-in with yourself from time to time and ask if you’re still hungry, or if you simply want to enjoy another slice of pie. Neither answer is bad; but the holidays are notoriously tough on eating disorders, and can be triggering for people in recovery. Practice self-love and use this time to further bond the relationship you have with your body.
- Last but not least, get enough sleep
It sounds so simple. But making sure your body gets six to eight hours of sleep the night before a holiday gathering can make or break the event.
All in all, do your best to keep a strong sense of self and your needs during the holiday season. This will help you maintain feelings of consistency and security throughout the trials of the season.
Above all else: Enjoy yourself. For better or for worse, the holidays only come around once a year. Let yourself relax and have fun with the people you love.