Let’s be honest. ‘Tis the season to feel a little stressed. The holidays are a joyous time of year but also overwhelming — lots of people to meet, lots of gifts to buy, and lots of work to manage. As the season approaches, so does the “hanginess” (aka holiday anxiety).
While we can’t relieve all the stress of the holidays (like shopping for your favorite in-laws), we can help you cope. This holiday season, we’re counting down eight ways to practice self-care.
1. Nurture your body
Eating and sleeping right are fundamental ways you can take care of yourself every day.
“Exercise is also very important,” says Jennifer Fuller, E-YRT 500, a yoga instructor in Lake Tahoe, California. “Whatever feels right for you—walking, HIIT, running, yoga, Pilates, barre—make physical movement a priority.”
Dancing to “Jingle Bell Rock” counts entirely as cardio.
2. Honor your emotions
“Practice acceptance and remind yourself that it’s okay to feel sad or lonely,” says psychologist Nicole Issa, PsyD. “If you’ve recently lost someone, gone through a breakup, or are away from family, you may feel depressed.”
Journaling is a good self-care practice for emotional expression and connection.
Since the holidays go hand in hand with cocktails, drink mindfully and notice when celebratory sips turn into tequila shots to drown the emotion.
If you start to get depressed, “early intervention is key,” Issa says. “Online therapy is a great option and more accessible than ever.”
3. Stimulate your mind
“Calm yourself using the five senses: curl up in your cozy sweater or curl up under a blanket, light your favorite scented candle, eat or drink something soothing like herbal tea, look at artwork or beautiful landscapes online, and listen to relaxing music or is improved,” says Issa.
Intellectual activity can boost your mood. Reading a book or working on a jigsaw puzzle is a mental workout that activates your brain.
4. Support your soul
“Give the gift of stress relief for 10 minutes a day with a simple sitting meditation practice, pranayama breathing work, or a loving kindness meditation,” says Fuller. “A gratitude exercise can help remind us to be grateful for everything we have.”
“Connecting with nature is also very helpful,” she says. “Go out and take a walk.” Walking has many benefits but requires little gear.
5. Connect with the people you love
“This time of year, comparing yourself to others on social media can create stress and anxiety,” says Fuller. Take a break from social media when you need to, but maintain balance.
“If you feel disconnected, reach out to friends and family or participate in virtual community groups,” she says Join the BOD group on the Beachbody On Demand app or start a conversation in the BOD: Members Only Facebook group.
You can also volunteer, Issa recommends. “Giving back can help you lift your mood and feel connected to others.”
6. Create a happy place
“Your environment is the ultimate foundation for your well-being and a representation of how we feel inside and out,” says Russia Bell, an interior designer and co-founder of The Crystalline.
Imbue your home with holiday cheer. “I like to use essential oils in a diffuser, like cardamom or cinnamon, peppermint or spruce, to set a holiday tone,” says Bell, who specializes in creating spaces that reflect the energy you want to attract. “Lighting is a huge factor, and candles always create a cozy atmosphere.”
Use a few pillar candles to create a faux fireplace in a small space or decorate with anything that makes you feel cheerful.
7. Find work-life balance
“Know your boundaries and stick to them,” says licensed mental health counselor Ginamari Guarino. “Prioritize the things that are most important to you and allow yourself to say no or set limits with others, so you don’t feel stressed and overwhelmed.”
Take a “mini vacation” or break each day and make time to celebrate without the stress of work.
8. Do an honest financial checkup
“Let go of your expectations of who you were or what you would have done this time of year and be present with what’s happening without unrealistic expectations,” says Fuller.
Holiday shopping can add financial stress. Instead of overspending your budget, give thoughtful DIY gifts or host a present exchange, so you’re only buying one item for a group, recommends Fuller.
Most importantly, you need to take care of yourself before you can help others — and “remember we’re all in this together,” Issa says.