Self-care tips are useful year-round, but they are perhaps even more important during the holiday season. You need to make sure you’re taking care of yourself as this long period of hectic celebration, gift shopping, financial considerations, and maybe a touch of family drama ramps up, or the demands and expectations of these few months might leave you frazzled, upset, anxious, or depressed.
No one wants to feel like that during a time that is supposed to be filled with happiness and joy!
While holiday stress can affect anyone, a survey by the American Psychological Association indicated that women are more likely than men to report an increase in these negative feelings during the holidays. Take a look at these self-care tips (most of which take just a few minutes a day), and start implementing them as soon as possible so you can work your way through the holidays with more joy and far less stress.
What Is Self-Care?
Popular culture has contributed to the idea of self-care as a massage and a pedicure, but that’s not the whole story. Certainly, a little pampering feels good and can be part of your program, but true self-care goes much deeper than that. Here’s what you need to know:
- Self-care is any step you take to actively preserve and promote your physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.
- These are energizing activities that we feel good about later, which is why that piece of cake or glass of wine may not exactly fall under the self-care umbrella.
- While there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence, it’s important to recognize it for what it is.
- Ultimately, self-care is about living a well-balanced lifestyle, and it can have big implications for your overall health.
- Practicing self care might mean taking a break from social media and taking the time to be present in each moment.
- It might also require working through moments when you feel guilty for deciding to make time for your mental health and overall wellness (that’s easier said than done).
Integrative health expert and family physician Dr. Wayne Jonas was quoted as saying, “Research shows that the core aspects of self-care contribute to 60 to 70 percent of the chronic diseases we know in this world.” Self-care, from eating well and exercising to spending time with people you love, can actually help you prevent some of those common diseases.
7 of the Best Self-Care Tips for Women
Since self-care is all about doing things that recharge you, the elements that have the greatest effect or make you feel good can be a little different for everyone. There are certain activities that have been shown to promote mental and physical health that you should include in your self-care plan, however. Use these tips to practice self care for a few minutes a day during this holiday season and throughout the year.
Not only does exercise have a host of physical health benefits, it’s good for the mind, too. It’s been shown to boost mood, improve blood pressure, reduce stress, and help you sleep better. During the busy holiday season, remember that something is better than nothing. If you can’t make it to the gym for an hour because you’re balancing work, life, and efforts to see the people you love, put on a YouTube workout in your living room and do 15 minutes of fun movement. Do 25 jumping jacks right now. Something. Anything.
If you can develop an exercise routine during the busiest time of year, you can certainly keep it going for the next 12 months and beyond. Schedule your workouts like you would any appointment, then hold yourself to them to make sure your body gets a little love every day (or at least most days).
2. Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, promote feelings of calm, boost mood, and even enhance your immune system. All of those benefits can make it easier for you to sleep, too, even when there may be a million things left on your to do list every day. You don’t have to disappear into the woods for days, either. Take a walk in the park or lie down in your own backyard and gaze at the clouds moving across the sky. Plus, a quick trip out in the cold can make you a little bit more grateful for the warmth in your home, and acknowledging feelings of gratitude pretty much makes everyone feel less stressed.
3. Eat Well
A healthy diet is the key to so many health-related things. Eating well will give you more energy throughout the day, improve your mood, help you manage your weight, and help you prevent a number of chronic diseases, all of which will make your winter season even better. The holidays are full of temptations, and your work-life schedule might feel like you can’t make healthy decisions, but here’s a quick and simple tip to lower your food-related stress: Create a plan to ensure you’ll get plenty of leafy greens, lean protein, and complex carbs to take care of your body, then take time to indulge intentionally on some of your favorite treats. You’ll feel better and enjoy some tasty dishes without the stress.
4. Write Things Down
Get it out of your head and onto the paper. Trying to remember everything only adds stress to your day. By writing it down, you simply have to check your list to see what’s coming up next. Journaling is another scientifically proven way to reduce anxiety and clear your mind. There are no rules to it: Simply scribble down what’s going through your head. Write about the family drama at the dinner table, your concerns about gift giving, your frustration at the holiday workload — whatever’s bothering you, write it down and see how you feel. Sometimes, getting problems on paper reduces their power and brings perspective to challenging situations.
5. Start Your Day Right
Developing a morning routine can set a positive tone for the day. By taking charge of that first hour or two, you build willpower and feel more in control of your time and life. Prep for your day the night before, then wake up at the same time every morning. Make a good breakfast, move your body with a walk or a short stretching or yoga session, and take some quiet time. Sip your coffee or tea and review your day. Imagine it working out beautifully.
6. Visit the Sauna
Far infrared saunas are gentler and more comfortable than traditional saunas, and they may offer additional health benefits, too. Making time to sit in one may help reduce fatigue, depression, anxiety, headaches, digestive problems, achy muscles, and skin conditions while helping you control your weight and sleep better, all of which will likely help you feel better throughout the colder months of the year (and every day after).
7. Learn the Power of Saying No
This may be the top self-care tip for women. If you find yourself saying yes to things you’re not excited about, practice saying no to these invitations and requests. You might feel selfish or guilty at first, but you’ll realize with time that you’re not doing anyone any favors by taking on a project you can’t give yourself to fully or that you’ll resent being involved with. By saying no, you’re doing everyone a favor: It gives others the opportunity to find someone who can really jump into it, and you’ll be protecting your time and mental well-being in the process.
How to Take Care of Yourself When It Feels Like There’s No Time
If you’re that low on extra minutes, self-care is more important than ever! If you can’t devote an hour to it right now, taking it a minute at a time is a great way for many people to quickly feel all the mental health and benefits they need. Here’s a great list of easy self-care tips you can do in just a couple of moments:
- Have a cup of coffee or your favorite tea.
- Step away from your work and go for a walk.
- Take five deep, slow breaths.
- Practice mindfulness.
- Reach your arms overhead and stretch your body.
- Send a quick text just to say “I love you” to a family member.
- Write down three things you’re thankful for.
- Put your phone away while playing with your kids or walking your dog.
There’s one more that deserves repeating: Say no! It only takes one second, and it could save you countless hours — which you could spend doing things you care about or practicing other self-care activities.
While self-care is about you, the effects ultimately benefit everyone every time you make time for your personal health. Doing so gives you the energy and confidence to show up in the world as your best self. It’s not selfish or indulgent: It’s essential, and it’s part of taking a holistic approach to your wellness.
Looking for Some Self-Care Help?
If you have questions about self-care or other ways natural healing can help you keep your stress levels low and your body healthy, it may be time to contact a professional. Reach out to Dr. Karen Threlkel today to speak with an expert about self-care and how to get started.