It might be the most wonderful time of the year but you still need to make time for self-care.
I know what it’s like. You have a million and one plans, you want to catch up with friends, you need to see family and don’t forget preparing for the main event itself. It’s no secret that the holidays, and especially Christmas, can be hard work.
But how are you going to make this year one to remember if you’re running on empty? You can’t, simple as that.
I’ve spoken before about my anxiety and how important it is for everyone (and I’m talking to YOU), to have a self-care plan. Self-care is actually something I’ve really focused on this year and, I’ll let you into a secret, It’s changed my life.
I’m not saying my anxiety has magically gone away because that would take more than a Christmas miracle. What I am saying is that it’s helped me function and start to enjoy life again rather than purely surviving.
With the festive season in full swing, I know that now, more than ever, I need to make looking after myself a priority. And, I’m pretty sure you should too. That’s why I’m sharing 50 ideas for self-care during the holidays so you can hopefully enjoy it and not want to curl up in a ball.
Ideas For Self-Care During The Holidays
1 – Enjoy a classic Christmas film
Watching a funny Christmas film is probably one of my favourite ways of practising self-care during the holidays. My go-to favourites that always cheer me up are Jingle All The Way, Christmas With The Kranks & Home Alone.
2 – Accept you are going to have bad days
This sounds a little counter-productive, but it’s a complete game-changer. I find that I get so worked up trying not to be anxious, that I create anxiety about having anxiety. Instead, I’ve started to accept that some days are better than others and every day is different. Take that pressure of not having a bad day away and you’ll feel so much better!
3 – Visit a Christmas Market
I think it’s impossible to visit a Christmas Market and not feel instantly Christmassy. Even the biggest Scrouge can’t help but fall in love with all the sights and scents. I’m spoilt in Manchester with lots of options, but there is bound to be a Christmas market or fair in your local area too!
4 – Have a Pre-Christmas declutter
Decluttering might not be very festive, but it doesn’t half make a difference to your mental health. I always feel really claustrophobic when everywhere is a mess, so tidying up and sorting out things I don’t need is a great way to clear your mind.
5 – Develop a ‘Festive Routine’
Everyone has their own everyday routine but things get turned on their head come Christmas time. For me, I need routine in my life and without it, I find my anxiety starts creeping back in. Whilst you *might* not be going to work every day, you can still create a more flexible, relaxed routine that will help give purpose to your day.
6 – Plan ahead for awkward conversations
Do you have a conversation topic that you dread? Maybe it’s your single status (I feel you), or a life decision? Whatever you’re dreading, planning out a response ahead will save you a lot of anxiety. It doesn’t have to be a script, just a general idea of what to say so you don’t feel flustered if it pops up.
7 – Bake some Christmas cookies
Or Christmas cake. Or mince pies. Or whatever you fancy really. Baking is one of my favourite ways to practice self-care during the holidays, and you even get to enjoy a treat too!
8 – Shop within your means
Not only is Christmas exhausting, but it can also be super expensive. This year, set a Christmas budget and actually stick to it. Say no to expensive nights out that you don’t want to go on, stop buying unnecessary presents that you feel obligated to buy. Spend within your means and you won’t dread the credit card bills in January.
9 – Deck the house with boughs of holly
Wherever you live, making the effort to decorate your space is bound to get you in the Christmas Spirit. Take your time, put on some music and use this is a way to practice self-care during the holidays. Oh, and don’t forget to add some Christmas magic to your desk at work!
10 – Try something new
The holidays are mainly about traditions, but if you feel like you’re in a rut, why not try and do something new this season. Whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to do or something you’ve never even thought of, doing something new will give your mood a bit of a boost.
11 – Keep up with your medication
This idea for self-care during the holidays might sound obvious but it’s also very important. It’s easy to forget your medication if your busy and have lots of other things on your mind or, you might decide not to take them so you can drink. Whatever your reasoning, don’t change your routine without consulting a health practitioner first.
12 – Do something difficult on your to-do list
Yep, you’ve not gone crazy, I have just suggested doing the most difficult thing on your to-do list. Not only will it be one less thing to do, but you’ll also feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders, letting you actually enjoy the holidays.
13 – Fill your home with Christmas scents
Very basic, but I am a sucker for seasonal scents. I used to be obsessed with scented candles then very quickly moved on to wax melts. However, this year I’ve discovered reed diffusers and let’s just say I’ve built up quite the collection.
14 – Nail your morning routine
Whether you have 5 minutes or 50, getting your morning routine down can change your day. A lot of people swear by practising gratitude and saying daily affirmations before setting an intention for the day. Think about how you want to start your ideal morning, and make it a reality.
15 – Colour your worries away
Adult colouring books became really popular a year or two ago and they still are a great way to practice self-care during the holidays. You can even get Christmas-themed ones which are perfect for getting into the Christmas spirit.
16 – Spread the celebrations out
I’m very much guilty of making my birthday celebrations a week (more like a month) long affair, so why not do it with Christmas? Instead of trying to do everything all on one or two days, see if you can spread them out over a week or two. Not only will you have an excuse to celebrate longer, but you’re also more likely to not feel as overwhelmed and find some time to relax.
17 – Actually, leave your house
The UK is pretty chilly during winter but don’t let that stop you from getting out. Being cooped up in the house will impact your mental health so if you only do one thing to practise self-care during the holidays do this. One of my favourite ways is to go for an evening walk and see all the outdoor lights in our neighbourhood!
18 – Accept help if you need it
Generally, people are kind and will offer help if you need it, but don’t get caught in the trap of declining it for the sake of appearances or guilt. If you think some extra help will let you stay on top of your mental health, accept it and return the favour if and when you can in the future.
19 – Read a Christmas-themed book
Although I’ve recently got out of my reading groove, I absolutely adore books. For me, it’s an escape somewhere else and is one of my favourite ways to practice self-care during the holidays. Choose a classic like A Christmas Carol or something easier to read like One Day In December by Josie Silver.
20 – Give yourself a time-out
If everything is getting a bit too much, there is nothing wrong with stepping into the kitchen or bathroom and having a 5-minute break. Focus on your breathing, look at cute baby animals on the internet and you’ll be ready to face the world again.
21 – Plan your meals and do some prep
Feel free to skip this one if food isn’t a trigger for you but doing some advanced planning might help those who are. Make a meal plan and even consider doing some meal prep before the craziness begins to take away one less stress.
22 – Try daily meditation
I’m such a cynical person and used to roll my eyes every time someone said I should try meditation. However, when I actually gave it a chance earlier this year, I found that it really helped to ground me and get everything into perspective. If you’re new to it like me, you’ll find loads of free podcasts and youtube videos to get you started!
23 – Head to the rink and go ice-skating
Personally, I’m like Bambi on the ice at the best of times, let alone actually on the ice. However, I know so many people who love ice-skating, especially because the atmosphere is so infectiously happy. There are loads of ice-rinks in Manchester this year but a quick google search will help you find one in your local area.
24 – Reach out to old friends
Life is so fast-paced, and although we have social media, it’s too easy to lose contact with friends. Use Christmas as an excuse to check in with those who you’ve not spoken to in ages and even offer to meet up for a drink during or after the holidays to combat loneliness.
25 – Schedule some wellness activities
If you are seeing a therapist or counsellor, you might want to schedule an extra appointment during the holidays to help you keep your mental health in check. Alternatively, you could book in for a massage or even splurge on a spa day for the ultimate relaxation!
26 – Scroll with caution
I love social media as much as the next person (probably more), but I also know that I can get caught up in the comparison trap very quickly. Of course, you will want to see what your friends are up to but don’t forget to give your brain a break and spend some time away from social media.
27 – Follow traditions or start something new
One of the things that makes Christmas so special is all of the traditions. Sometimes these develop naturally over time, but if you haven’t got any or do and they trigger you, now is the perfect time to start something new.
28 – Be mindful of your alcohol intake
I don’t mean to sound like your mum, but we all know that alcohol can play havoc with your mental health. Not only can it interact with your medication, but you’ll also probably feel even worse the morning after. By all means, enjoy a glass or two, but, if you suffer with your mental health, keep it in moderation.
29 – Have a cosy night in
Put on your comfiest Christmas PJs and some fluffy socks or slippers during the holidays to get cosy. Extra points if you combine this with a fancy hot chocolate and a Christmas film!
30 – Create a festive music playlist
Maybe not one if you are doing Whamageddon, but creating a playlist with all your favourite holiday music is a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. I like mixing classic hits with more recent covers to balance things out.
31 – Meet new people by volunteering
Loneliness can have a huge impact on your mental health and it tends to be at its worst over the holidays. If you find yourself feeling isolated, be proactive and volunteer in your local community. Whether you’re walking some dogs at a shelter or serving a warm meal to the homeless, you’ll be helping others and making friends in the process.
32 – Set an ‘out of office’ message
If you receive work e-mails 24/7, don’t forget to set an out-of-office message up before the big day. Not only will it stop people chasing up replies, but it will also help you to not constantly check it and switch off this Christmas.
33 – Look after yourself
It’s so easy to forget the basics during the holidays like staying hydrated and exercising, especially when your schedule is jam-packed. But, how can you do more than usual by not looking after yourself? Use exercise as a way to take a step back from Christmas and have some very important ‘me’ time.
34 – Get crafty and make something
I find that my anxiety is at its worst when I don’t have much to do. It’s when I have time to think that I really see my mental health slip so using my creativity and making something really helps to keep me distracted.
35 – Relax in a warm bath
I will grab any excuse to relax in a bath full of bubbles with a face mask on. I find it so relaxing and use the time to listen to some of my favourite podcasts.
36 – Saying no is the new yes
If you are anything like me, you want to make people happy, especially during the holidays, so end up saying yes to everything. But, let’s be honest, can you really do everything? Probably not. Set yourself boundaries and all for some downtime so you can actually enjoy what invitations you accept. If you feel bad not accepting anything, why not re-arrange it for some time in the New Year when things are less hectic?
37 – Have a hot chocolate with all the trimmings
As a non-tea or coffee drinker (I know, I’m weird), hot chocolate is the only hot drink I drink so I take full advantage of it during the holidays. Experiment with different flavours (Options do loads in individual sachets) and even consider adding a few toppings such as whipped cream and marshmallows.
38 – Wear something special
It doesn’t have to be expensive or even new, just something that you feel great and comfortable in. You could even agree on a theme with friends such as ugly Christmas jumpers and have a laugh at the same time.
39 – Downsize your list and delay until January
I’m usually not a fan of putting things off because, sooner or later, you’ll be in the same situation. However, with so much to think about over Christmas, delaying one or two non-urgent things until January will help shrink your to-do list so you can focus on what actually needs to be done.
40 – Treat yourself to some extra help
Some people love cleaning and cooking, however, I happen not to be one of them. This option might not be available to everyone, but, if you can afford any services that make your life easier, don’t feel like you’re cheating by treating yourself to them.
41 – Write it all down
Sometimes it can be hard to vocalise how were feeling and that is when writing it down will help. Whether you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed, sometimes actually physically writing something down privately can help you make sense of how you’re feeling and work out how to deal with it.
42 – To you, from you
I know Christmas is so much more than gifts, but buying yourself a little something is always a good way to be kind to yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big or expensive present, a sheet mask or new book are great gifts that will help you practice even more self-care during the holidays.
43 – Have a Christmas detox
We’ve all heard of a social media detox, but have you thought of doing a Christmas detox? Sometimes you can feel a bit fatigued and overwhelmed with the holidays, especially with the shops blasting out Christmas music on loop. Spend some time away from anything seasonal to give yourself a sense of normality and recharge your batteries.
44 – Play a board game or do a puzzle
Board games and puzzles are one of my favourite things to do in winter and are a great way to practice self-care during the holidays. Whether you play a classic like Monopoly with your family (no cheating!) or do a puzzle by yourself, enjoy the distraction and time to relax.
45 – Let go of perfection
Everyone has a high, probably impossible, expectation that Christmas is going to be the best time of the year, only to be disappointed when it’s anything less than perfect. I am 100% guilty of this, but I’m going to try and remind myself that Christmas is more than just one day and the perfect Christmas just doesn’t exist.
46 – Have a snow day and build a snowman
This one might not apply to you, especially if you live in Australia, but if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have snow during the holidays, make the most of it. Unleash your inner child and go sledging or build a snowman and you’ll be smiling in no time.
47 – Try to maintain your sleep routine
Everyone needs a different amount of sleep and, for me, I find that if I have less than 8 hours of sleep for a couple of nights in a row, my anxiety skyrockets. Go back to basics and set yourself a bedtime then wind down beforehand to get the best sleep possible.
48 – Start practising gratitude
I said in my Winter to-do list that I wanted to start practising gratitude a bit more this season and I think you should too. It is so easy to get caught up in the commercial side of the holidays and forget to appreciate everything that you do have. Whether you’re thankful for a thoughtful gift or just being able to watch to ‘good telly’, I promise you that as soon as you start actively practising gratitude, you’ll enjoy Christmas much more.
49 – Plan things to look forward to
I know you should focus on being present and enjoy Christmas, but I always find planning lots of things for January gets me really excited during the holidays and helps me deal with post-Christmas blues.
50 – Tell someone if you’re struggling
Last, but certainly not least, the most important way to practice self-care during the holidays is to tell someone if things get bad. No matter how isolated you feel, I promise you that you’re not alone and there is always someone willing to help.
Fingers crossed, you’ve found a couple of ideas to inspire your self-care during the holidays!
Do you find Christmas stressful? What are your favourite ways to practice self-care during the holidays? Let me know in the comments below!
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