It happens every year. I attempt to stay ahead of the holiday rush and balance stress and self care with my long lists of to-dos, yet some days I find myself in a fury of anxiety.
Then once the joy of the holidays are over, I find myself schlepping through the rest of winter in a zombie-like funk. I don’t do well with the dark, dreary cold or with being cooped up indoors. As soon as the Christmas decorations are put away, I find myself dreaming of spring. I count down the days to warmer temperatures, sunny days and a brighter wardrobe. This year I’m pledging to make the holidays a simpler season and to enjoy the beauty of winter in as many ways as possible. While it’s true this is a busy time for all of us, and we might not have a ton of time for ourselves, taking small steps to cultivate self-care can go a long way toward our health and well-being. This time of year, we too are allowed to find joy and permit ourselves to do less.
Here are 18 ways to balance stress and self care:
1. Make an “accomplished list.” Write down things you have done as opposed to what you still have to do.
2. Watch your favorite movie. Whether it’s a holiday hit or one for any season, and even if you’re watching it for the tenth time, let yourself relax in front of a screen.
3. Spa day. Have your spouse take the kids on a play date while you head to the spa to enjoy a manicure and/or pedicure.
4. Up your endorphins. Try a new yoga or workout class (there should even be free classes offered at your local installation) to de-stress.
5. Write it out. Sit down with some favorite music and journal your thoughts.
6. Read. For fun. Visit your local library and try out a new book (or delve into a stack of trashy magazines. No judgment here!)
7. Say no. Feel free to skip that hundredth holiday get-together, cookie swap, product party or lunch gathering on your calendar that’s causing you anxiety. Stay home and enjoy that hour to rest and relax.
8. Declutter. You’ll be amazed at how cleaning out your purse, work bag, car or even your closet will bring you peace of mind and a balance of stress and self care. Throw away or donate things you no longer want or need.
9. Disconnect. Turn off your phone for an hour while you go on a long walk or take a nap.
10. Find (and give) gratitude. Write down at least ten things you feel grateful for. I find once I get started, my list quickly surpasses ten items. Write a thank you note to a friend.
11. Treat yourself to fresh flowers. The pop of color will remind you that spring is not too far away.
12. Stretch it out. Carve out some time just to stretch and ease muscle tension. Here is a five-step yoga routine for stretching and relaxation.
13. Diffuse some essential oils. The aromas can restore a sense of calm and wellness to your house (all while supporting your friend who sells DoTerra or YoungLiving).
14. Online shop in your pajamas. Take advantage of holiday sales or military discounts to gift yourself those shoes or jeans you’ve been eyeing.
15. Plan a trip. If budget allows, look into planning a trip for you and your spouse sometime in late January or February. Many places offer great deals since that time is considered the “off season.” Or make a list of places you would like to visit in the future.
16. Take a Vitamin D supplement. This will help kick feelings of sadness and fatigue.
17. Venture outside. Fight cabin fever by getting out of the house. Feel free to roam the aisles of Target with your favorite coffee treat (guilt free!), or bundle up and walk with a friend at a nearby park. The sunshine adds an extra health benefit.
18. Try something new. Browse your Pinterest boards for a new craft or get creative with a recipe you’ve been meaning to try.
Cheers to you as you balance stress and self care over this busy season and many others. Share your best self-care tips in the comments!