It’s the most wonderful time of the year! At least that’s what all the holiday songs keep telling us. This can be such a true statement. After all, you get to see and catch up with loved ones and kickstart those fun annual traditions; but it can also be quite the opposite if we don’t approach this season correctly. At this time of the year everyone is on a mission to stay on top of it all and sometimes focusing on all of the things we haven’t done yet, leads to getting behind, in turn leading to stressful moments and overwhelming to-do lists piling on. When it comes to the holidays it can seem that there’s never enough time in the day! We are going to dive into some self-care remedies and general practices you can incorporate in these next few months to make it through. Let’s try to refocus on the true meaning of the holiday spirit.
Reflect On Previous Years
First of all, I want you to think about last year’s holiday season. What worked? What really didn’t? When it comes to the holidays I will say I have been the definition of the Christmas Scrooge or the Grinch (minus the whole stealing the Christmas gifts, of course) and it was because I focused a lot of my time on the things I was dreading. That’s no way to start your holiday mentality because starting there will only get worse from there.
Take a second with me to reflect on your very favorite things about the holidays. Things like:
- Quality family time around the dinner table.
- Eating your favorite foods and treats.
- Hot cocoa by the fire as you decorate the tree.
- Seeing the little ones experience traditions for the first time or watching them get excited about the approaching festivities.
Now take a second and think about what really didn’t work last year:
- Maybe not getting the house as clean as you’d like
- Worrying about work deadlines approaching
- Budgeting for family gifts
- The business of everyone shopping all at once or the craziness of the traffic on the roads.
Create A Game Plan
The list of things you like and dislike or things that worked and didn’t work could go on and on and it will be different for every single person but be mindful and honest about at least the top 10-15 things for each category of “good” and “not so good”. Then, we’ll go a step further and break this list into things you can and can’t control. If finances were a high stressor last year take time to set a budget and stick to it. There are lots of amazing budget apps and planners that you can get to try and stick to or adjust your budget as you go. Maybe spreading yourself thin was the theme of last year. Divvy up the responsibilities amongst the family and tackle them together or highlight the things you need to prioritize and the things that maybe don’t have to be top of the list.
Lastly, if there are things on your list you simply can’t control- take a deep breath and journal about how your feeling, spend some quiet time to recharge doing things you enjoy, that can take your mind off of the business, or find a trusted friend or family member that you can talk to. Finding that support system and those routines that you can turn to when things get tough can be a huge help when it comes to tackling the holiday stress, you don’t have to do it all alone!
Walking. Lifting. Yoga. If you just audibly sighed at any of those words, I hear you, I really do! Especially considering we are already so busy right now. But what if I told you it’s never the workout that causes those feelings of stress, rather, the time it would take to carve that time out in the day. Working out regularly can produce hormones like endorphins that make you feel good and lower things like adrenaline and cortisol which tax the nervous system and in turn boost your immune system’s responses. Right now looking into the scary schedules of holidays it may seem impossible. But let’s say we took a closer look at our schedules.
How often do we spend on social media?
What about reading a good book?
Meeting with friends?
These things are very important to do as often as possible- they’re things we can incorporate to relax. But we can also use these things to encourage healthier habits as well!
Squats, lunges, push-ups, ab workouts and other body-weighted workouts can be done any and everywhere. If you find yourself spending more than 30 minutes watching television- break out a body-weight, at-home workout! Want to scroll through social media or read a book? Stick it on a treadmill and bust out a few feet while you do it! Make it a social event and go walking with friends, or invite a friend to walk on the treadmill with you to catch up, you can even have your friends and family do workout challenges together and set a goal to “walk x miles a day” or “squat x times a week” and the winner gets to buy dinner. The best part about it all is that you can make it fun, do the things you love doing, and become a healthier and stronger version of yourself.
At the end of the day if you absolutely don’t have time for either of those things it is still so, so important to prioritize your health. Wake up 5 minutes earlier to stretch and do yoga; do some squats on your lunch break while you wait for your food to heat up; stay up for an extra 5 minutes to do an ab workout, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park just a little bit farther from your building and walk up to it. These small habits may seem a little silly at first, but the changes they will make in your health, attitude, and even appearance can be a pretty big deal.
Drink Your Water
Finally, the easiest yet most overlooked solution to stress is to drink your water! Surprisingly, studies show that about 75% of Americans aren’t drinking at least 10 cups of water per day. This means many people are suffering from chronic dehydration and they don’t even know it. Dehydration can cause an array of problems but keeping up on your water intake can boost the immune system, speed up your metabolism, help your body rid itself of toxins, and even lower cortisol levels. Here’s how you can up your intake in three easy ways:
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink 4 oz of water every half hour or 8 ounces of water every hour.
- Drink 8-10 ounces before and after every meal
- Buy a cute water bottle with the motivational sayings on them and keep it at work to encourage you to drink water every time you look at your desk.
- Do a “drink war” with your family, coworkers, or friends to see who can drink at least 10 cups a day.
Let’s Do It
Taking time for yourself each day- whether that be journaling/meditation, reading, socializing, etc. start with a least 15 minutes to give back to yourself each and every day. Taking your vitamins, resting your mind, getting regular adjustments, eating nutritious food, moving those muscles, and filling yourself back up is so important. No matter what our schedules look like, we won’t be able to give it our best shot if we are not bringing our best foot forward! The better we take care of our minds and bodies now, the bigger impact we can make at work, in school, with our families, and in our communities. Treat yourself so we can treat others even better!