3 Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

By Katrina Wagner
December 20, 2021

As joyful as this time of year can be, it also comes with its share of stress. Between shopping, cooking, and entertaining, we often find ourselves doing more things for other people and generally having less time to take care of ourselves, which can leave us feeling physically exhausted and mentally depleted by New Year's Day.

3 Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

To stave off seasonal weariness, follow these three simple holiday stress tips to give more self-compassion to yourself and, ultimately, to others as well. Whether you strive to put them into practice every day or only when you find yourself in need of a recharge, they can help bring you peace, inner calm, and relaxation.

1. Let Go of Expectations

Adopting a take-it-as-it-comes attitude can be harder than it sounds. But one way to start letting go of holiday expectations is to focus on mindfulness, which is one of the core elements of self-compassion.

The meditation teacher, researcher, and author Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., describes mindfulness as helping us “pay attention in the present moment, on purpose, with nonjudgmental awareness.” This act of mindfulness can help us refocus our attention on what’s important and leave the rest behind.

To practice this, try the following exercise:

  1. Sit back, rest your hands on your lap or at your side, and close your eyes.
  2. Turn your attention to your breath and listen to and feel your breath.
  3. Take a deep breath in to a count of three.
  4. Deeply exhale to a count of three.
  5. Do this three times.

Afterward, open your eyes and note how you feel. Notice how just the act of focusing on your breath can bring you back to the present moment and help you leave the rest behind.

2. Take Self-Compassion Breaks

Setting aside time that you dedicate to holiday self-care every day can help tremendously. If you're pressed for time, you could wake up a few minutes before everyone in your household to savor the quietness of your home, take a few deep breaths to recenter yourself while waiting at a stop light, or take a mindful pause for a few minutes in the kitchen while you're preparing a meal, focusing your senses on each ingredient you’re using.

If you have more time to spare, engage in an activity that you love, like reading, writing, or doing a hobby.

3. Communicate Your Boundaries

This Holiday Season Setting clear-cut boundaries and communicating them shows respect for yourself as well as others. If it helps, write down what's most important and make sure your friends and family know what you've decided is your priority. This will help them better understand what you’ve chosen to spend your time on and why.

It might not be easy at first, but give it some practice and see how it feels. Sometimes, a simple no will suffice. Other times, you can ease out of committing yourself to a holiday obligation by saying, “Let me think about it; I’ll get back to you.” Or your response can be more detailed: “Thank you for thinking of me, but I’ve decided to focus my time on something else.”

These three holiday self-care tips combined can help you foster self-compassion for yourself—and serve as a reminder to others to do the same for themselves.

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