In spite of your busy holiday schedule, you’re here taking a break reading about holiday self care tips. So kudos to you for that! You’re already doing a great job at self care!
There’s so many experiences we want to enjoy this time of year. Traditions, special holiday dinners and treats, parties, events, gifts, activities. And that takes lots of preparation work. We want to spend quality time with friends and family and make our holiday experiences as memorable as possible.
But sometimes we give so much to create great holiday memories that we end up feeling irritable and depleted. We might even look in the mirror and make a promise that we’ll start taking better care of ourselves in the new year.
But it’s possible to enjoy the holiday fun and treats AND take good care of ourselves at the same time. By taking a few simple steps towards good self care, we can actually have more energy, feel upbeat, and enjoy the season even more!
Have your cake and eat it, too
Set yourself up for success. Sweets are everywhere during the holidays, and telling yourself you won’t eat any of them probably won’t work. This can lead to the discouragement of feeling like you’re either on the wagon or you fell off the wagon which isn’t a helpful mindset. Instead, give yourself permission to enjoy some sweets and then plan some healthy ones that you can feel good about eating.
Refined sugar has no redeeming qualities and has been linked to many of the chronic degenerative diseases in our modern world. But even just overindulging in it during the holidays can have some negative effects that you’ll probably notice pretty quickly such as the energy spikes and crashes and the emotional highs and lows that the blood sugar roller coaster can bring.
But unrefined sugars such as honey, dates, pure maple syrup, and cane juice don’t create the same problems that refined sugar does, especially when used in moderation and with a balanced diet. A clever way to find some recipes that are low sugar and made with healthy sweets is to Google a treat you like with the words “Paleo recipe.”
I don’t necessarily advocate a Paleo diet, but the Paleo way of eating is concerned with avoiding refined sugars and limiting carbs, so you can get great healthy sweets recipes this way. For example, try “Paleo fudge” or “Paleo chocolate chip cookies.” Not only can you make healthy treats that are guilt-free, but you can actually find some recipes, such as for Paleo fudge, that are super nutritious!
Another way to change your sweet treats is to upgrade your favorite ones. For example, if ice cream is your weakness, find an alternative healthy ice cream at your local natural foods store, one that’s organic and made without refined sweeteners, and keep it on hand for when you just have to have that treat.
Plan your meals and snacks
It’s easy to get so busy during the holidays that we don’t think ahead about eating healthy. But it’s important to set aside a little time each week to plan and prepare nutritious meals and snacks. This’ll keep us from just reaching for what’s handy when we get hungry, which is usually processed food that’s not good for us.
Keep a healthy snack with you everywhere you go. And when you attend dinners or parties, take a couple of healthy food choices along with you that you can eat and share with others, too. Your host or hostess will appreciate the contribution, and you’ll have something healthy you can fill up on.
We focus on this most during the hot weather months of summer. But we can just as easily be under-hydrated in the winter, too. Often we can confuse our body’s need for water as a signal to eat something, especially sugar. So if you’re struggling with cravings, your energy is low, or your thinking feels fuzzy and confused, try drinking more water.
Start by budgeting your time and energy. It’s ok to say no to anything that will drain you, even the good things. What we really want is just to enjoy time with those we love and make special memories. Spending a quiet evening with family playing board games, putting together a puzzle, making crafts, or watching your favorite Christmas movie together in new pajamas can make memories that will last a lifetime!
And schedule downtime for yourself. I laugh when I think about that because it reminds me of the movie “The Grinch” with Jim Carey. The Grinch makes up excuses to avoid going to the Christmas events that Cindy Lou Who has invited him to. He looks at his fake appointments calendar and reads “Dinner with myself – I can’t cancel that again!”
But seriously, we actually can get more accomplished and have better energy to do it with when we set aside at least a half hour each day to relax. If you’re not sure what to do, start with some meditation and breathing exercises. Perhaps a warm bubble bath with Epsom salts and essential oils is the just the retreat that you need. You can do some meditating in the bath tub, too. Light a candle and make a cup of herbal tea. I like to use herbal teas that have some immune supporting herbs in them this time of year such as astragalus, echinacea, or rose hips.
Here’s a great idea – get a relaxing reflexology session which is a MEGA stress buster! Whatever refreshes and rejuvenates you, make some time for it each day. Literally write it in your planner if you need to. And like the Grinch, don’t hesitate to say, “I can’t cancel that again!”
I know you’re already feeling exhausted, and exercise seems completely impossible. Sometimes we skip our usual exercise during the holidays in place of other activities. But then we’re adding more stress with the extra Christmas activities and taking away something that helps to combat stress. Even if you can’t do your usual routine, set aside 15 minutes to take a walk.
Lots of research has been done to show that exercise helps to reduce stress, fight depression, and improve mood and concentration. Even short periods of exercise help to release the feel good hormones in our brains. Regular exercise helps to build up a reserve of these to help us with anxiety, stress, and depression.
And keep it fun, too! It doesn’t have to be time on the treadmill. Make a snow fort or a snow man (even if you don’t have kids). Take a brisk walk through a local park or botanic gardens and enjoy the winter scenery. Go sledding. The fresh air, exercise, and fun memories will really give you a good boost of feel good hormones!
One of the Grinch’s other holiday excuses he read from his fake appointment calendar was “Jazzercise.” Not such a bad idea!
Get plenty of sleep
It’s tempting to stay up late regularly during the holidays to get last minute gift wrapping and meal preparations done, go to Christmas parties, or watch movies. But not getting enough sleep can cause stress in itself along with irritability and even weight gain. Staying up late to try to create the perfect holiday experience won’t make you or your family have a happier holiday, but getting consistent, refreshing sleep definitely will.
Help your body get a good night’s sleep by skipping the caffeine after 2 pm, limiting sugar, and not eating those yummy leftovers in the evenings. And try to resist the urge to nap after a day of shopping or a big Christmas dinner. Too much “screen time” after dark can interfere with your sleep, too.
Enjoy the present
Give yourself permission to not be perfect and to just enjoy each moment. Don’t let trying to plan the ideal Christmas keep you from enjoying the messy fun that happens each day. Focus your thoughts on all the things you’re grateful for. Savor the simple little pleasures and moments that make the holidays so special!
My Christmas wish for you is a holiday season that’s filled with everything you cherish. Joy, peace, laughter, harmony, genuine relationships, and love! You’re amazing, and you deserve to feel well and make lots of happy memories.
Wishing you all the magic of the season! Much love and hugs and Christmas blessings to you!
Tracey – xx –
(Images from Pexel)
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