How to Practice Self-Care During the Holidays
The busy time of the holidays can leave many feeling exhausted and emotional. With the added pressures of spending too much money, long-distance family coming into town, and all of the events you have scheduled to attend, it’s easy to not take care of yourself.
If you don’t take the time to recharge your body and mind, stress and emotional eating can take over. To keep you happy, healthy, and feeling your best, we’ve compiled some tips to help you enjoy this holiday season.
Make Mindful Food Choices
You don’t have to completely avoid all of your favorite holiday treats, just keep moderation in mind. The average person gains approximately one pound over the holidays. Luckily, there are several things you can do to prevent yourself from overeating at your next party.
- Plan ahead – Have a healthy snack before your holiday party so you aren’t left starving and overfilling your plate.
- Fill up first on protein and vegetables – Placing healthy items on your plate that are filling and satisfying first can help prevent overeating sweets later in the party.
- Watch your alcohol intake – Alcoholic beverages are filled with sugar and carbohydrates Try limiting your intake and balancing each drink with a glass of water to stay hydrated and to prevent you from feeling depleted the next day.
Move Your Body Daily
We all know exercise is good for so many things. But when you are busy buying gifts and picking up last-minute grocery items, exercise is typically the first to go. That’s why it’s even more important to be flexible and make time for movement throughout the day. For example, if you skipped your gym session, make time for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood before dinner. Exercise increases your blood flow and raises endorphin levels to boost your mood.
“I find that if I take the time to run or ride my bike during the holidays, I’m in a better mood and am better able to manage the demands of family and work,” says Dr. Bajaj. She starts almost every morning at 5 with a run with her dogs. “During the holidays, when we run, we also get to enjoy the Christmas lights – an added bonus!”
Remember to Reduce Stress
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can increase stress. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) found nearly half of all women in the United States experience heightened stress during the holidays. The APA also learned during this time that 41% of women use food and 28% use alcohol to ease stress. Knowing this information before the stress sets in can help you plan to combat it. Here are some activities you can do to help reduce stress:
- Take deep breaths – Simply stopping to take deep breaths can calm your mood and increase oxygen to the brain. Try short bursts of deep breathing (in through your nose and out through your mouth) throughout your shopping day to reduce your stress.
- Try Journaling – Journaling allows you to put your thoughts on paper and help you process emotions. Try setting a timer to journal 15 minutes each morning and see how it makes you feel.
- Practice meditation – Meditation has increased in popularity in recent years because it helps clear your mind from stress. In just 30 minutes, you can reflect, set a clear focus for your day, and practice gratitude for the things you have.
Stick to Your Sleep Schedule
Late-night parties and long nights wrapping presents make it seem impossible to keep to your normal bedtime. But sticking to it is important to keep your stress levels down and is key to getting a good night’s sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – even on weekends and holidays – you can reinforce your sleep-wake cycle which encourages a more relaxing night’s slumber.
Embrace Your Emotions
Many of us can get caught up in the excitement of holiday traditions and ignore what our body is trying to tell us. If you wake up feeling drained and feel emotionally burdened, it’s OK to say no to things. This way, you can be your best self for the engagements you do keep. This will help you stay present at the moment and enjoy your time with friends and family.
Take Time for Yourself
Carve out time to do what you love. This can be anything from reading, taking a long bath, walking your dog, getting a pedicure, or sipping a cup of hot tea.
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Remember, the holidays are a time for creating lasting memories, not stress. Use these tips this year to help keep your stress levels down and to help you fill your cup so you can help pour into others this holiday season.