The 2023 holiday season is here! For some, that statement may cause excitement and joy, while others may feel overwhelmed or a sense of exhaustion. Self-care is a vital and important part of our lives at all times of the year, as the specific practices you’ve developed to best manage stress can be crucial for your mental health and wellbeing.
Here are some suggestions for best practices to keep your self-care at the top of your mind during this holiday season.
Stick to your routines
During the holiday season – regardless of the festivities in which you celebrate – self-care should be a high priority. Dr. Pete Gutierrez, LivingWorks EVP, Innovation, believes the self-care routines you’ve already developed shouldn’t take a back seat during the month of December.
“If it helps you at other times of the year and it’s an important part of your self-care, then you should keep doing it in December. In fact, it’s probably even more important when it’s something that helps you to manage stress.”
December can be a busy time, whether it be in your family life, personal life, work life or even a combination of all three. Making sure to take time for yourself and maintain those self-care routines even when you’re busier can help make all the difference.
Prioritise your tasks
Gutierrez believes one of the things that can make the holiday season tougher is when expectations don’t fit in with reality. He says prioritising tasks and scheduling time to work on things can help you create the space to get the important things accomplished.
“It’s a busy time of the year, not just for people’s personal lives, but also in business and for your work life,” says Gutierrez. “In a lot of industries there is a huge amount of work that has to get done before the end of the calendar year. When you add into that a bunch of days off because of holidays, you can really feel that time pressure.”
Creating feasible and attainable goals, scheduling priorities and being realistic about what can be accomplished during the holiday season is a great way to manage your workload and focus on the things that are most important to you.
Connect with others
For many, connecting with friends, family and colleagues is high on the priority list during the holiday season. Gutierrez suggests making the extra effort to connect with those closest to you can be a more unique form of self-care during the month of December. He says scheduling something to do remotely with the folks you aren’t able to travel and see is important.
“If you’re not able to travel to visit family or friends, but you’d like to, try and do something more formal and actually schedule time to have a video call with someone, or pick up the phone and call somebody. Then you can maintain connections even if you can’t see them or be in-person,” says Gutierrez.
It’s okay to feel stressed
December can be one of the busiest months of the year for many individuals. Gutierrez believes even some of the positive things can cause stress during the holidays.
“Parties are fun, but parties can be stressful, especially if you’re the host. Things that are different from your normal routine doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re all fun and happy and not stressful,” says Gutierrez.
Reminding yourself that it is okay to be stressed, and keeping your normal stress-relieving self-care activities in mind during the month of December can help you to recognize when you might need to take better care of yourself.
“A lot of us become more irritable when we’re stressed out. Trying to be more aware of the tone of voice that you’re communicating to people in and what you’re saying is important,” says Gutierrez. “If you’re more aware of how you’re feeling and how you’re responding, that also makes it easier to be aware of why other people might be behaving the way they’re behaving.”
Ultimately, the only way to really know what’s happening in someone’s life is to ask them.
“I think it’s always best to name when you’re sensing something is going on with someone than it is to ignore it and assume you know what’s going on and react,” says Gutierrez.
Sticking to your regular self-care routines, prioritising tasks, connecting with others and recognising that it’s ok to feel stressed are great ways to prioritize your self-care during the holidays.