Why does self-care feel so hard during the holiday season?
When we practice self-care, what we’re really doing is setting boundaries around our mental and physical health to keep ourselves well. The holiday season creates a perfect storm for neglecting self-care practices because of:
Additional emotional stressors and responsibilities
, such as navigating difficult family members and managing plans
like sweets and alcohol during holiday parties
Social media feeds and cultural expectations
which pressure us to have the “perfect holiday” and the “most magical” season
Shorter days and lack of sunlight during the fall and winter months can lead to
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
, a type of depression which drains your energy and causes feelings of sadness and anxiety
Tips for getting through the holidays
As we’re running around trying to accomplish everything we (think we) need to do during the holiday season, the self-care practices that would help lessen our stress fall by the wayside. That’s why s
elf-care is always important, but it becomes critical during periods of high stress.
Here are a few actionable tips:
1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
List everything that needs to be done and be sure to include self-care activities as a non-negotiable. Your therapy session isn’t less important than making an extra batch of cookies for the bake sale.
2. If you need to, scale down your self-care (but don’t completely abandon it)
You might not have time for four gym sessions, but you can still squeeze in one or two. Even just light stretching each day can benefit you.
3. Plan ahead for difficult situations
If you know you’ll regret eating too many sweets at a party, don’t arrive hungry! Have some filling, nutritious food before you get there. If you know seeing a difficult relative is going to end with hurt feelings, plan to leave as soon as the situation starts getting tense. Better yet, give yourself permission to just stay home and enjoy your evening!
4. Check in with yourself periodically
This time of year can be especially difficult for those of us who struggle with depression and anxiety. If medications and/or therapy aren’t helping your symptoms, it could be time to make some changes (remember to never stop taking any medications without first talking with your provider). If you find yourself shutting down or feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help.