It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for many women, the holiday season can also be stressful. From holiday parties and endless shopping, to travel and family visits, your holiday to-do list can quickly become overwhelming, and instead of feeling the holiday cheer, you are wishing for the season to be over.
When it comes to good health and well being, self-care plays an important role — and the holidays are a great time to put self-care into practice.
What is self-care?
We hear the term “self-care” often these days, but what does it really mean? On first glance, it may sound like it means putting yourself first in a selfish, narcissistic way. But actually, self-care means paying mindful attention to yourself — practicing habits that go a long way toward protecting your well-being and ensuring your good health. These habits provide care for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
Self-care during the busy holiday season
There are many ways you can care for yourself during the holidays. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has some great tips for managing stress and improving your well-being, including these:
- Take care of your body. Try to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, keeping sweets and snacks in moderation. Exercise regularly. Take a break from too many late nights and get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. They may seem to be a temporary fix to feel better, but in the long run drugs and alcohol can create more problems and add to your stress—instead of taking it away.
- Give yourself a break when you feel stressed out — for example, treat yourself to a manicure or therapeutic massage.
- Find support. Seek help from a partner, family member, friend, counselor, doctor, or clergyperson. Having someone with a sympathetic, listening ear and sharing about your problems and stress really can lighten the burden.
- Connect socially. Consider planning fun activities with your partner, children, or friends.You can take your mind off your problems with activities like helping a neighbor, volunteering in the community, and taking the dog on a long walk.
And don’t forget the common sense actions you can take to stay well, like getting a flu shot, washing your hands often and avoiding over-crowded public spaces when possible.
Focus on what’s important and improve your sense of well-being
Before getting overwhelmed, try taking a step back. Remember that the holidays are a time to enjoy and appreciate everything you have and spend time with those most important to you. Try these four suggestions from national community fitness program Silver Sneakers to help you stay in the holiday spirit while keeping stress at bay:
- Smile More:The simple act of smiling can help reduce stress and make you happier. Even if it’s forced, the next time you feel stressed, pause, take a deep breath and smile.
- Make a List: Sometimes, the best way to de-stress is to jot down your thoughts on a piece of paper. Sorting out all that you have in your mind into a to-do or shopping list can help clear up some headspace. Even writing down a few thoughts that are circling in your mind can help you de-stress.
- Be a Good Neighbor: Not everyone has family close by for the holidays and they can often feel lonely and isolated. Seek out a neighbor or friend for a festive visit, and boost their health and happiness—and yours—with great company and conversation.
- Have Fun: Don’t forget to slow down and enjoy yourself! Give yourself permission to forget about all the tasks at hand and live in the moment.