woman relaxing by window

 

We all feel the pressure to be perfect at one time or another. Perfect in our careers, in our relationships, in how we dress, act, look, etc.

This pressure can be amplified during the holiday season. The pressure to have that “picture-perfect memory,” complete with homemade hors d’oeuvres, Pinterest-worthy place settings, and center pieces, and the stylish outfits on Instagram and Facebook.

The pressure to “have it all together” and “do it all,” is real.

Holiday parties. Baking. Buying perfect gifts. Buying new outfits. Time with family (especially the family we may not see often)—these can create a lot of stress. According to a Greenburg study:

“Holiday stress has a particular impact on women, who take charge of many of the holiday

celebrations. Women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season. In addition, they have a harder time relaxing during the holidays and are more likely to fall into bad habits to manage their stress, like comfort eating.”

We can’t create more time, but we can carve out time for self-care during the hustle and bustle of the season.

 

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is defined by Psych Central as, “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”

Just like the old saying, “you can’t pour water from an empty cup,” you can’t take care of others if you are not first taking care of yourself.

Taking care of yourself first doesn’t mean you are any less giving, loving or kind. It simply means you are prioritizing your health and well-being.

This can be more difficult for women, since we are still seen as the primary caregivers and hostesses. In a recent post by SELF magazine, “Open Letter To Women Who Aren’t Putting Their Needs First,” the author, Mirna Valerio, wrote:

“You matter. You are worthy just as you are, and you are worthy enough to inhabit the center of your own life. You are worthy enough to have goals for yourself and work toward them..You are worthy enough to ask the question “What do I need?” and give yourself or do for yourself whatever that is.”

Once we accept that we deserve and need self-care, the next step is figuring out how to care for ourselves. Below, are some quick tips for you this holiday season.

 

Tips on self-care during the holidays

1. Reflect

Reflect on how you felt last year during the holidays by asking yourself:

  • What made me feel stressed or overwhelmed?
  • What brought me the most joy?
  • What went well and what can be improved for this year?

Also, be aware of what gives you energy and what drains you by asking yourself:

  • Do I gain energy from spending lots of time with people or by myself?
  • What do I value most about the holidays?

After reflecting, decide what you can do to make this holiday season more enjoyable for you and those around you. And, define what your self-care means to you, not to someone else. Brainstorm a couple of ways you can self-care and recharge. Perhaps it’s curling up with a cup of chai tea and a good book. Or, a cup of hot chocolate and a beautifully cheesy Hallmark movie. Be mindful of what would make the holiday season less stressful and more delightful.

2. Set Boundaries

Before you commit to a gazillion events, think about your own personal needs, and set boundaries by thinking ahead. How many events do you want to attend? How long do you want to stay?  Planning for these situations can help make this season not so overwhelming.

Also, if you’re at an event (whether it’s a work party or time with family), and you begin feeling drained, take a break. Step away to a quiet place for a few minutes. Setting boundaries is a practical and productive way to spend time with the ones you love.

3. Make it simple

We often feel pressure during the holidays for things to look a certain way. The Greenburg report states that, “the holidays can be a hectic time for many, and a lack of money, a lack of time, and the hype and commercialism of the season causes increased stress for people.”

Instead of focusing on what we lack, focus on the feeling you want your loved ones to experience. For some, it’s quality time with family, friends or loved ones. For others, it may be travel or time off. Whatever this season means to you, remember:

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched.”

 – Helen Keller

 

Tying It All Together

Taking care of yourself isn’t just for the holidays, it’s something you can practice all year round.

Check out more self-care ideas  and remember: self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant or time-consuming. It can be as simple as going to bed early, meditating for 10 minutes each morning, or taking 30-minutes of quiet time each day to read, go outside, listen to music, dance, focus on your hobby, etc.

Don’t just carve the turkey this year, carve out intentional time for yourself! We know it’s hard, but we promise it’s worth it.

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