Something called me to write about how we can care for ourselves this holiday season. I didn’t plan on a self-care guide, but here we are! The holiday season can be a joyous time filled with fun, family, and making memories and a time of sadness, chaos, and dysfunction, and it can also be lonely and isolating.
If you have great relationships with most of your family members and will be spending time with them this year, here are some self-care tips I suggest:
- Make sure you take little moments to yourself if you feel you need them. I know some of us don’t get to see our families as much as we would like, but if you are introverted or want space from time to time, create that for yourself without shame. It doesn’t even have to be a lot of time. Maybe find a place to read quietly by yourself or go out for a walk around the neighborhood alone. Whether the energy around you is lovely or heavy, we can all take a moment to ground ourselves.
- If you are one of those people who loves to make everyone around you happy, make sure you remember how to say no. It’s lovely to want to see our loved ones smile but be aware and be able to discern if someone is taking advantage or requesting more than you can provide.
- Be in the NOW! Stay in the moment when you enjoy your time away from work, family, and celebrations. Honor the memories you are creating and let those around you know how much they are loved and cared for. If you are a planner or type A personality, take heed. Thinking about the future or what’s next and what needs to get done constantly can get overwhelming and not allow you to enjoy the moment.
This next set of tips is for those with families that may drive them nuts or are just filled with dysfunction that everyone does their best to wade through each year. Families like this understand the importance of family but may not have the best grasp on healthy behaviors and ways of expressing said “love.” It can be exhausting.
- You may run into that narcissistic parent or ego-driven aunt this year. The best thing you can do for your mental health and energy preservation with these types of personalities is to keep things cordial and stay in your own body and own your energy. These personalities rely on getting people to be taken outside themselves, so they know they affect you. Call it out if they cross a line, and do your best to remove yourself from the situation if possible.
- For those who are heading home for the holidays, if you have the means to stay in accommodations that give you a break from being in direct proximity to main stressors, you deserve to book that hotel or bed and breakfast during your visit. If you can’t do that, make sure you are stepping out of the house, going for walks, or taking some solo time away when you can throughout your stay. If you are hosting, this may be harder to do, but you have the right to express clear boundaries with whoever may be staying in your home.
- Like my tip in my previous sector of people, be the one to express love and gratitude for your family members lovingly and healthily. They may stress us out here and there, but it doesn’t mean we don’t love them and want to have a good time with them. Lead by example and show them how learning each other’s love languages can feel and look. A lot of us are aiming to break cycles, and you can be the one to show that to your family in real-time this season, even if they think you are being strange. It may catch on and shift how your family members choose to interact with one another.
My last group is those who have a hard time during the holidays. It can be lonely, isolating, and even depressing around this time of year. Some have lost loved ones around this time of year, and their grief tends to show up around the holidays. I hope you know that you are loved and cared for and that it’s okay not to feel super jolly around this time of year. You can feel what you feel and not be labeled for it.
- Reach out to close friends you love dearly; making plans around or before the holidays may be a great way to cheer up around this time. A fun movie date, vision boarding for the year ahead, or a local holiday market visit with a good friend might feel nice.
- If you are alone, you don’t have to be lonely. Take this time to enjoy your own company. Create an enjoyable experience for yourself. Ordering delicious takeout and having a self-love spa day or a movie marathon day at home would be fun. You can even support a business that may be open and gift yourself a spa day. I’m not opposed to going on a solo vacation either if you can afford it and don’t have to be at work.
- Carve out time to sit in gratitude or even journal in appreciation. I know it sounds cheesy, but it helps. This time of year can feel particularly lonely because we think deeply about the things and people we lost or don’t have. It can be overwhelming and consume us to the point of sometimes feeling unloved, unwanted, and unimportant, which is not true and not how we want to end our year thinking and moving forward into our new year. We are so much more than a season, and we have so much to be grateful for if we take a moment to realize it and appreciate it.
This season is a season to celebrate humanity, kindness, love, and joy. Whether by yourself, your chosen family, or your relatives, you can remain a light in this world. It’s a time to give and receive. What do you decide to give this season? What will you allow yourself to receive?