Practice Good Holiday Self Care by using a Self-Care Planner During the Holidays
The holiday season is here, which means it can be difficult sometimes to find time for yourself. Remember that it is just as important for your mental health during the holidays to take care of yourself as it is to care for everyone else and all of their needs. Self-care isn’t just for women who have extra time on their hands! EVERYONE should make time for it! Here are some relaxing self-care rituals, including how to use a daily self care planner to help incorporate more self-care into your daily routine without spending a lot of time away from your family this holiday season.
Some Statistics about Mental Health During the Holidays
Stress levels reach an all-time high during December, especially for women! It is easy to feel overwhelmed during this time of year. Between holiday shopping lists, work deadlines, family drama, travel plans, it’s no wonder many people are struggling with their mental health during the holidays. Put yourself to work and practice good self care by using a self care planner during the holidays.
I have to share these statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI surveyed people to determine the effects of the holidays on people’s mental health. This study is from 2014, but can you imagine how these statistics are affected by the recent development of Covid-19 and how it has changed the ways we handle holidays? Holiday stress is at a whole new level of craziness now that we have experienced being either locked in with some family members or can’t see others.
NAMI says, “For many people, the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year,” said NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth. “What the survey shows is a tremendous need for people to reach out and watch out for each other in keeping with the spirit of the season.
“The holiday season beams a spotlight on everything that is difficult about living with depression,” said a Massachusetts woman who responded to the survey. “The pressure to be joyful and social is tenfold.
Approximately 755 of overall respondents reported that the holidays contribute to feeling sad or dissatisfied, and 68% financially strained. 66% have experienced loneliness, 63% too much pressure, and 57% unrealistic expectations. 55% found themselves remembering happier times in the past contrasting with the present, while 50% were unable to be with loved ones.”
The Importance of Holiday Self Care
I find these statistics so sad. The holidays are meant to be a happy time in which we remember the birth of our Savior and enjoy the blessings of time with family and friends. It is critical to care for ourselves and teach our next generations the importance of good self care. We need to prioritize better caring for our mental health during the holidays so we can eagerly anticipate and enjoy all the beautiful facets of the holiday season!
You may be wondering where to begin in practicing good self care. Here are some simple tips for ways you can manage your mental health during the holidays:
Manage your expectations
Remember that no one has a perfect holiday. We live here on earth where sin and ugliness taint our everyday life. That may sound gloomy, but it’s important to remember that perfection is not realistic. When you expect everything to be perfect, you set yourself up for failure. When you understand that your efforts may fall short of perfection, you allow yourself grace and opportunity to continue learning and growing.
Focus on healthy habits
Take special care to keep up with your regular healthy habits. If you go to the gym twice per week, meditate, or spend time in prayer daily, the holidays are not time to abandon this habit. Put your own needs at the top of the list. Continue to exercise, mind your healthy eating habits, pray and meditate, and continue to use your five-minute self care techniques. Or consider adding a few extra bits of self care during this stressful time of year.
Just say NO!
Saying no is a skill that most of us could use more often. The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to put this skill to work. There are many great ways to say no without being a jerk (and some ways to do it and not worry about being a jerk). The fact is the holiday season is crazy busy. If you know in advance that you won’t be able to attend every function or join in every plan, you can take some of the stress out of saying no. Permit yourself to limit yourself.
We talked about knowing in advance that you’ll need to learn to say no, but you can also plan to say yes to a few opportunities that you anticipate with joy. Think about the things you have said yes to in the past and know which plans you want to repeat and which ones you want to decline. There is power in knowing in advance who and what you will spend your time with this year.
If you love to bake, plan a day to bake. Are you into online shopping and watching Hallmark Christmas movies? Then plan a day or an evening specifically to do those things. If you get extra joy by inviting a friend, then do it! When you make plans in advance, you lower your stress levels by knowing you get to do things that have value for you and how you want to spend your time.
Feel the feelings
Above all, remember that you will have lots of feelings during the busyness of the holiday season. You will have feelings of joy, feelings of anxiety, frustration, contentment, and a host of others. Try to tune in to those feelings and take note of them as they happen. Both positive and negative emotions are normal. If we know how to deal with them, then we are one step closer to a stress-free holiday. Feeling the feelings is so important to your mental health during the holidays.
Using a self care planner to improve your mental health during the holidays
My therapist, whom I love, regularly talks to me about journaling. She reminds me weekly how important it is to get my feelings out of my body and brain. One of the simple ways (and one of the best) to do that is to write those feelings down with your thoughts. I don’t know about you, but when I see a plain, blank piece of paper in front of me, I have a tough time knowing what to write. Once I get started, the words begin to flow, but for me, it’s super helpful to have a place to begin.
In addition to writing down my thoughts and feelings, my journal serves as a gratitude journal. It also has checkboxes that help me keep track of successes and pages that include planning to keep my focus laser-sharp. Of course, I can use all the help I can get in this area because sometimes my inner free spirit tries to sabotage my laser-sharp focus.
I’VE CREATED A VERSION OF MY HOLIDAY SELF CARE PLANNER FOR YOU
Because I have enjoyed using planners and have found it helpful for my holiday success, I created a version that you can use! I hope you’ll find this self care planner as useful a holiday tool as I do! You may find you love it so much that you’ll continue to journal after the holidays. This care journal is not a standard weekly planner. Instead, it gives you daily prompts and questions to keep you grounded and focused.
You can get a downloadable, printable copy of my self care planner HERE. No shipping! Just download and print the document and get busy using it!
Take a moment to stop and appreciate the little things in life
Self-care doesn’t always mean you have to do something big for yourself. Sometimes it’s as easy as stopping and taking a moment to take in your surroundings. We can begin by practicing mindfulness during the holidays.
So many of us rush through our days and activities without ever really seeing what is going on around us. Be specific about putting down your phone, closing your laptop, and just looking around to take in where you are in the moment. I like to spend a minute by myself and take note of the things happening around me. Isn’t the sky beautiful? This drink of water tastes so refreshing? I sure do love this Christmas song and all it means to the season. What lovely stars are out tonight.
Take a deep breath and engage all of your senses – what sounds can you hear, what smells can you smell, what feelings does this material evoke? This moment will never happen again, so try and soak up as much as you can! Indulge in a bit of self-care ritual by savoring this moment. These moments will help you remember the details of the day, so when you’re writing in your self care planner at the end of the day, you’ll have specifics to think back on.
Give your home a mini-makeover
Nothing is more relaxing than giving your home the treatment it deserves. Take an hour or two out of your day to give your home that special touch that says “I love you” with some deep cleaning to prepare for holiday decor.
If you don’t have a couple of hours to put into home care every day, you can use your self care planner to jot down a daily home chore goal. Perhaps you can fit in a few minutes to run the vacuum, clean the sink, or throw expired foods in the fridge. Jot those down in your planner in the morning, and you will be much more likely to get them done! I don’t know about you, but I love crossing chores off my list!
If you do have a couple of hours to really dig in, try rearranging furniture, adding new pillows, and maybe even creating or purchasing some new artwork! Dressing up your home is one of the simplest ways to practice holiday self care because it will genuinely help you feel more comfortable in your own space. When you spend so much time providing goodies and gifts for everyone else during the holidays, it’s essential to create a haven for yourself where you are free to express yourself however you see fit!
Give yourself a relaxing spa treatment
Sometimes all you need is some time for yourself and a way to relax. Add a date into your holiday planner for you to take the time to pamper yourself. Then treat this date with the same level of importance as any other plan you’ve written down.
If your budget is tight during the holidays, take a bath or an extra long shower instead of going for an expensive spa appointment. Play some soft Christmas music and burn a candle. You can even try a new bath bomb recipe (without using any of the harsh chemicals often found in store-bought products). Scour Pinterest for a recipe. Handmade bombs are made with essential oils and Epsom salt, making them a great way to unwind after a long day at work or holiday shopping! Plus, they’re customizable – you can pick your favorite scent and color – so there’s something for everyone.
Fingers and toes, oh my!
Treat yourself to a manicure or pedicure. Thick socks and boots make it easy to neglect your toes in the winter months, but this makes it all the more important to treat yourself. I don’t know about you, but that little extra fluff I carry around the middle makes it hard for me to reach my toes. Instead of tackling this chore on my own, I have a local spa that does all the hard work for me. They scrub and exfoliate and pluck and trim – all the wonderful things – and all I have to do is sit there and relax in the massage chair! Talk about excellent self care!
As for my fingers, I prefer to handle my manicures at home while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. Whether you’re treating yourself to fingers or toes, be sure to add this appointment to your self care planner, so you don’t forget to make it happen.
Great ideas for photographing your loved ones this holiday: The Great Big List of Christmas Prompts for Your Christmas Photo Shoots
Create a happy jar
If you’re having difficulty getting through the holiday season, this is a simple ritual that can help put things into perspective. Get an empty mason jar and fill it with slips of paper containing little things that make you happy. As you’re jotting notes and feelings down in your self care planner over the holidays, take a quick extra moment to write something positive down on a slip of paper and toss it into your happy jar! Practicing daily gratitude is a sure-fire way to lift your spirits.
On each slip write something that makes you feel good (e.g., spending time with family, your child’s laugh, etc.) and add to the jar any time you find yourself feeling down. Take inventory of all the great moments you had and read over some of those slips of paper to remind yourself what makes life worth living! You may even want to add some little trinkets like notes from loved ones, photos of yourself with friends or family, or even some of your child’s art.
A happy jar is a gift that will keep on giving to yourself long after the holiday season has passed. When you are feeling the blues after the new year has begun, you can pull your jar back out and remember the many joyous moments and feelings you had during the busiest season of the year. Keep adding and keep reading until your jar is stuffed! Then begin filling a new jar!
QUOTE BOX – Positive thinking and solid self care are amazing tools for not only the holiday blues, but are proven helpful for many mental health conditions such as stress depression, bipolar disorder, and can even curb stress or depression eating.
The holiday season can be one of the most joyous times of the year, but it is also one of many people’s busiest and most stressful. Make sure to carve out some time for yourself during this busy season by indulging in your relaxing self-care rituals! Whether it’s an at-home spa day or simply stopping to appreciate where you are right now, make sure you show yourself some extra love throughout December. Using a self care planner is especially important during the holiday season!
A Final thought about the holiday blues
No matter how much we work at it, sometimes we need the help of others when we’re having a tough time. If you feel extra lonely, anxious, or stressed, reach out to a friend or family member to let them know you’re struggling. Many churches have support groups that meet specifically during the holiday season. Check some local churches on social media to find available options.
If you don’t have a close group of friends or your family isn’t the most supportive, then don’t be afraid or embarrassed to seek professional help from a therapist. www.psychologytoday.com I can’t say enough what a difference therapy has made in my life. The best gift you may give yourself this year is to find a professional to help you work through some issues. And most of all, remember that the holidays do not have to be perfect to be incredible!
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