Five ways to practice self-care during the holidays

Dec 13, 2021
If there’s anything this pandemic has taught me, it’s the importance of self-care during times of high stress. 
As pandemic restrictions ease up and social gatherings are being allowed again, many are eager to jump back into the busyness. However, for many of us, this pandemic has increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue—and the 2021 holidays are coming at the end of another year marked by pandemic-induced global chaos and grief.

I’m excited and grateful that we can gather and enjoy good food with family and friends again. However, as society slowly transitions out of the pandemic, it’s vital to be more mindful of what our own mental and emotional limitations are when it comes to participating in the holidays. 

We may feel the pressure to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible. Yet, considering the toll of the pandemic, we might not be as ready as we want to be for the ‘normal’ holiday celebrations we used to have. And that’s okay! 

Putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to transition out of this hard season as quickly as possible won’t help us heal any faster—in fact, it may make things worse. We all need to give ourselves a little TLC, and the holiday season is no exception.

So, in anticipation of the stress coming with planning for the holidays, here are five ways to be kind to yourself:
  1. Allow yourself to feel: While it’s uncomfortable to experience negative emotions like sadness and anger, often, the only way out of them is through. Making time to pause and acknowledge the hard feelings you experience can give you the space you need to help you move forward and make room for moments of joy in the holidays.
  2. Set boundaries for yourself: Be aware of your own needs and feelings, as well as your social and emotional limitations when it comes to holiday celebrations. With events and gatherings ramping up all over Canada, you may feel pressure to say yes to every invite—give yourself permission to say no when you feel overwhelmed, socially drained or stressed. 
  3. Stay connected: Share what you’re honestly feeling with trusted friends and family. You may be surprised to see who also resonates with your peers and loved ones—you’re never as alone as you think you are. Being open and vulnerable with those who care and can empathize can ease the pressure we feel to please people.
  4. Plan time for yourself: Having a packed calendar can be fun, but you can’t enjoy time with others if you’re feeling drained yourself. Be sure to plan out time to enjoy for yourself, to rest and replenish your own social energy, whether that means binging holiday movies with a hot cup of tea or going to the gym.
  5. Show kindness: The holidays are a time of celebration, but they’re also a season with big opportunities to be kind to others outside of our own circles. Seizing these opportunities can be good for you! Whether you volunteer at a local homeless shelter or donate to help with global hunger, multiple studies find that giving charitably activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. Who knew caring for others can be a form of self-care?

These suggestions may help ease what is often a stressful time for you. This pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. It’s okay to slow down a little bit this holiday season.

What self-care do you practice during the holidays?

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