In a blink of an eye, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Christmas is already around the corner. Spreading thanks toward others is now transitioning to spreading the Joy of Giving. Whether that be through gifts, acts of service or cherished moments with loved ones, we are exerting a lot of energy into making others feel loved. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, quite the opposite. But it becomes more and more obvious that these hectic two months filled with thankfulness and giving can often leave you feeling depleted and overwhelmed.
Not only are women more likely to experience depression, but they are also more likely to experience seasonal affective disorder. Self-care is so important during this hectic in-between period to ward off those holiday blues. It’s easy to fall in the pattern of feeling overwhelmed and that you need to do just a little bit more. End the cycle of stretching yourself too thin for others’ happiness and remind yourself that yours is just as important. Here are some useful ways to check in with yourself during the season of giving.
Don’t Fill Your To-Do List
It can be easy to think that accomplishing a long to-do list is synonymous to ultimate success. While it does feel satisfying to check off yet another big item, it’s more important to consciously set limits on what’s next to complete. Running halfway across town to pick up that specific bottle of wine that your significant other’s parents once mentioned is their favorite might seem like a fun way to score points, until you are crazy stressed sitting in rush hour traffic. While making your to-do list, ask yourself, will this help or hurt my current mental state? Something like finally doing those three loads of laundry will be gratifying. Searching hours for that bottle of wine…not so much. Even asking yourself if the errand can be completed a different day will help. Sometimes immediacy overcomes common sense. If you’re someone that absolutely cannot remove an item from your to-do list, start sooner. Allowing yourself more time to check off items will leave you less frazzled.
Keep Up With Regular Exercise
Changes in weather can provide changes in motivation, something I know firsthand. Sometimes a fitness class just isn’t worth stepping outside in 30-degree weather when you could be cozied up watching Netflix in pajamas. Walking to your kitchen to grab more snacks counts as cardio, right? Wrong.
Exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy mental state. Depression and anxiety statistics are at an all-time high in the United States, but something as simple as exercising will have an immediate effect on your brain. The increased endorphins and enkephalins you feel after a satisfying sweat are a reminder of how grateful you are that you’re able to move your body. In those moments before heading to a workout, questioning if it is a good idea, hone in on the “you” that just completed an amazing workout. Focus on the feeling you get when honoring your past self. You’ll feel better for it. After all, the season of giving starts with you. So why not make it a focus?
Remember Your Routine
Having a routine is crucial throughout the year because it has the ability to relieve stress and anxiety, provide needed predictability, and increase productivity. In hectic times like the holiday season, it’s easy to forego a step or two. Routines can make us feel good about ourselves, and while skipping a step to instead grab drinks with friends can be OK at first, the consequences can add up. Plus, it’s cathartic to carve out time for yourself. Honor your daily practices that turn into unconscious doings, because when you throw off that delicate schedule, you can be left feeling burnt out and confused. Also, with upcoming holiday events, it can be helpful to create an exit strategy when you’re feeling too thrown off. Finding the best balance is crucial for your mental health.
It can be hard at first to begin a routine, so start simple. If waking up earlier is a goal you have, make a conscious effort the evening before to start winding down sooner. Set your alarm without a snooze button, but don’t go crazy with the alarm time. Setting it back 10 minutes and working your way up will be easier than starting at an hour earlier. All things take time, including setting a routine you’ll stick to. Start slow and hold yourself accountable.
Schedule Time to Treat Yo’ Self
This might be my favorite tip. As Donna and Tom so famously showed us, treating yourself is a great reminder that you are also important. Schedule time in your week to do what you love most. Journaling, taking a hot bath and meditating are just a few beneficial acts of self-care. Even allowing yourself to feel your emotions and let out a good cry are cathartic ways to feel cared for. Tuning in to what brings you peace and joy is an easy way to decompress. It can seem overwhelming at first to create time for only you.
With how crazy life can be during the holiday season, it can be hard to switch your mindset to slow down. Follow the step above and remove an item or two from your to-do list. That saves up time to really focus on you. Or kill two birds with one stone and make that treat yo’ self time a good sweat session. Create a routine out of allowing yourself once a week to slow down. As for me, a restorative yoga class and massage will do just the trick.
Don’t Go Overboard with Holiday Shopping
While showing people how grateful we are for them through gifts is an exciting experience, breaking the bank is not. Create a list before you begin holiday shopping and budget out exactly how much you will spend on each person. Practicing gratitude should be beneficial for both parties, so don’t be uncomfortable with not being able to spend a lot. Also, not everyone appreciates a material gift in the same way. Tune in to close ones’ love languages and find out how they best feel appreciated. Expressing how grateful you are for their presence can be as simple as hosting an intimate homemade dinner or helping them finally repaint their bedroom.
The benefits of expressing gratitude are enough to practice it on a daily basis, but be mindful during the holiday season of how to do this. You might even save a few dollars in the process.
Get Enough Sleep
The benefits of a good night’s rest are enough to write a book about (Hi, Arianna Huffington), so this should be a no-brainer. From weight gain to poor concentration and increased irritability, lack of proper sleep will always be a lose-lose situation. Plan ahead by avoiding last-minute shopping and large to-do lists. No one wants to stay up the night before Christmas wrapping everyone’s gifts anyway. Late night parties can be hard to miss, but try to avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. and midnight munchies. Finally, while midday naps are tempting, they can alter your ability to fall asleep at night. Skip the food-induced nap for a walk around the block to clear your head. Your body will thank you after getting that restful night of REM.
Remembering to take care of yourself might be one of the best decisions to make during the holiday season. Your future self will thank you.
Feature image via Stocksy