Most of us look forward to the festive season and the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and celebrate. But it can also be a busy and stressful time, and all the planning and taking care of others leave many of us exhausted, stressed, and wishing for a holiday to get over the holiday! Holiday merry-making is also about how you treat yourself. Taking good care of yourself is essential, and it is anything but selfish. It’s like the oxygen mask on an aeroplane – in an emergency, you must help yourself before you can help others.
What is self-care?
Self-care is anything we do or refrain from doing with our well-being in mind – things promoting our physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual well-being. Several organisations and researchers take a more health-oriented approach when defining self-care. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), self-care is important because it can help promote health, prevent disease, and help people better cope with illness, with or without the support of a healthcare provider. It includes the steps an individual can take to manage stressors in life and take care of their health and well-being.
Why is self-care important for your well-being?
An effective self-care routine during the holidays and throughout the year has several essential health benefits. Some of these include:
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Reducing stress and improving resilience
- Improving happiness
- Increasing energy
- Reducing burnout
- Stronger interpersonal relationships
5 Holiday season self-care tips
Self-care can help you recharge. Anything that puts a smile on your face makes you feel good or relaxed and cared for, even if you care for yourself. Try these proven self-care activities to ensure you take time to nurture yourself – both mentally and physically – around the hustle and bustle of it all.
- Keep to a routine
Schedule physical and mental self-care activities (exercise, meditation, a hobby you enjoy) at the same time each day, so they become routine, or set a timer or alarm to remind yourself.
- Sleep: Get at least seven to eight hours each night. Lack of sleep affects your emotions and physical well-being, especially when you suffer from underlying conditions.
- Exercise: Get your heart rate up. Incorporate physical activity into each day. Stand rather than sit, take the stairs, stretch, or go for a walk.
- Nutrition: To balance mood and stabilise blood sugar, eat complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds regularly throughout the day. Drinking water to keep you hydrated is vital during the summer. Develop a plan to enjoy the special foods and treats around the holidays while balancing them with healthy eating.
- Listen to your body
Holiday stress can bring on a lot of tension. Know the signs of too much pressure and ask for help before you think you need it. Self-care also includes seeking medical care when needed. Watch for muscle tension, headaches, upset stomach, chronic pain, or difficulty sleeping. It’s okay to take a breather when things get stressful. Don’t rely on alcohol as a stress reducer.
Talk to a friend. Reach out to friends, peers, and family by phone, email, WhatsApp, or social media. Even a brief conversation can improve your mood and immune response. A chat (or venting session) can also help reduce stress.
- Respect your emotions
Tune into the emotions you are experiencing. Emotions may be positive, negative, or a combination of the two. For some people, negative emotions might be related to unrealistic expectations or goals around the holidays or feeling overwhelmed. Re-adjust goals, so they are specific and attainable. Establish “no judgment” rules for yourself and your family as you experience a full range of human emotions: fear, anger, gratitude, and grief.
- Focus on gratitude and love.
Take a few moments every day to remind yourself what’s important. Celebrate with your presence, not presents. Express gratitude for the people and events in your life. Reclaim the true spirit of the holidays and commit to loving your life.
A healthy you are the best gift you can give your family and the world this holiday season. Self-care during the holidays will help you feel better and more relaxed through a more challenging time and inspire new habits and interest in putting yourself first in the new year and onward.