The holidays are wonderful in so many ways, but for every wonderful thing, the holidays also present an opportunity for stress. There’s the pressure of giving time and presents to loved ones, additional activities in your busy schedule, and perhaps some financial strain.
For me, the Christmas season has always brought on a double-edged sword of holiday cheer—I want to make the most of the season and do as many fun things as possible, but that can sometimes end up becoming a bit overwhelming. Then, if I slow down too much, I feel regret on December 26th. It’s hard to not give too much of yourself to others and the season without also missing some opportunities for joy. But you also don’t want to run yourself down and ignore your own needs.
In order to find balance, I’ve written this guide for ways you can prioritize self-care during the holidays.
Don’t Skip out on Relaxation
Consider relaxation a gift for yourself, and hold yourself to it! I know it’s easier said than done, but your holiday season will be much more enjoyable if you have a few moments to slow down. After all, one side of Christmas is full of spectacle and wonder, while the other side is “solemn stillness.” Here are some ways that you can relax this season.
Make It a Silent Night
Before bed, quietly sit and take time to either reflect on some positive things from your week or do a calming activity that you enjoy. Paint your nails, crochet or knit, read, journal, take a bath—whatever helps you slow down.
Throw a Christmas Party for One
If you need a break from seeing others, but you still want to do something festive, throw a little Christmas party for yourself! Make yourself hot cocoa or a holiday cocktail, put on some fun Christmas music as you prepare snacks or cookies, and then settle in to watch your favorite holiday movie.
Say “No” When You Need To
On the note of social burnout, remember this holiday season that you don’t have to attend every party or outing that you’re invited to. And you don’t need an excuse to stay behind, either. Of course, spending time with people you care about is a great way to make the holidays special. But when you’ve got a lot of other things on your plate, leaving the house can sometimes be daunting.
Hopefully, your friends and family will understand if you need to refuse an invitation here or there. Keep in mind that this is all about balance. You don’t have to ignore your loved ones, but you don’t have to ignore your own needs either!
Put Up Healthy Boundaries
Similarly to saying “no” to some social obligations, don’t be afraid to exercise boundaries during gatherings. If there’s a family member or friend you don’t always get along with, think about how you can make your interactions as peaceful as possible. Sometimes, this will mean excusing yourself to the restroom when a topic of conversation comes up, or it may mean employing a friend to be a buffer and avoid a one-on-one. While it’s not pleasant to think about, one reality of the holiday season is that you may be with people who don’t see eye to eye with you. Take care of yourself and think about how you can keep things from getting too tense.
Ask for Help
Everyone has a long to-do list this time of year. But if you ask a friend for help, you can work in some time with someone you care about. You may think that your friends and family are too busy to help you, but I’d bet you’ll be surprised by how willing others are to step up. It’s the season of giving, and everyone can agree that it feels great to give to someone who needs help.
Have a ton of cookies to bake for a party? Ask a friend to come over and help!
Not sure if you have the time to get your tree decorated the way you want it? Have a loved one give you a hand.
Hosting a party and you’re not sure how you’ll get all the food on the table? Make it a pot luck!
Consider Your Mindset
I’ll admit that I am guilty of putting too much pressure on the Christmas season. When you love this time of year, it is so hard not to. But as I get older, I’m realizing that the key to enjoying Christmastime is to just, well, enjoy it. Don’t daydream about perfect scenes you see on Christmas cards or fill your calendar with a handful of festive activities every weekend. Just slow down and feel that Christmas feeling! It’s the best part!
This may mean that you have to lower your expectations. I think most of us probably learn to have high expectations for Christmas as children because it’s such a magical day. Sometimes as an adult, I let those expectations carry over a bit too much. While there’s nothing like experiencing Christmas as a child, your adult experience can be just as magical if you make it a time of year when you learn to take care of yourself as much as you take care of others.
When you’re making your list and checking it twice, don’t forget to put your own name on it. You are a priority this holiday season. Treat yourself like one and ask for help, take some downtime, and reflect on what will really help you enjoy this December as much as possible.