6 Self-Care Essentials for a Mindful Holiday Season

6 Self-Care Essentials for a Mindful Holiday Season

Written by Natalie Glennon

While the holidays are a wonderful time of year for some people, they can also be a source of distress and difficulty for many others. Whether you struggle with family conflict, seasonal depression, or the chaotic nature of the holiday season, now is the perfect time to practice and prioritize self-care—and we’ve got just the guidance you need. Using these tips, you can start to let go of what you’ve been told the holidays are supposed to look like, and instead embrace what’s best for you and your wellbeing. 


1. Tune in to your emotions with R.A.I.N.

During the holidays, we are often faced with situations that take a toll on our emotional and social battery. You might not even notice that you’re emotionally drained until after you’re completely burnt out and just going through the motions. To prevent this from happening, make a habit of regularly checking in with yourself using the R.A.I.N. technique:

  • R: Recognize what’s going on and name what you’re feeling.
  • A: Allow the experience to exist as it is without trying to force things to change.
  • I: Investigate what you need most in that moment. Try to assess your needs with curiosity rather than judgment.
  • N: Nurture yourself by practicing self-compassion and addressing your needs.

Whether you go through these steps in your head or in writing, this technique can help you recognize when you should take a step back and nurture your emotional needs instead of putting self-care on the back burner.


2. Manage your stress, not just your stressors.

A common misconception about stress is that once you’ve gotten rid of your stressor, then all of your stress will immediately go away. Although it’s important to deal with your stressors themselves, completing your stress response cycle is critical to managing the stress that has accumulated in your body. This has to do with physical practices that reassure your body it is in a safe space. This physical component is crucial because you can’t always rationalize your way out of feeling stressed—believe me, I’ve tried. 

Some of the physical practices that can relieve pent-up stress include intentional movement, physical affection, breathwork, laughter, or having a cathartic cry. By scheduling out time each day to engage in some of these activities, you can complete your stress response cycle and prevent feelings of burnout that can easily build up during this busy season.


3. Use social media intentionally.

Although social media has its benefits, it can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and isolation, especially during the holiday season. If you struggle during this time of year, it can be easy to compare yourself to people online who look jolly as ever and feel even worse about your own state of being. 

To combat the negative effects of social media, you can intentionally curate your feed with content that boosts your mood rather than fosters unhealthy comparisons. You can also limit your notifications and overall app usage and spend that time engaging in self-care instead. Finally, remind yourself that social media does not provide an accurate representation of a person’s life or wellbeing; anything could be going on behind the scenes.


4. Create a wind-down routine.

As we endure holiday chaos, rituals and routines can provide us with a much-needed sense of familiarity and comfort. While you can (and should) engage in various self-care practices throughout the day, a nightly wind-down routine is essential to prioritize quality sleep and an overall sense of calm that carries over into the following day.

Wind-down routines can differ from person to person, but one of the most effective ways to ease into sleep mode is to avoid screens before bed. After unplugging from your devices, you can engage in a relaxing activity such as reading, journaling, meditating, or listening to music. Make sure you curate a calming environment as well—dim the lights, light some candles, and get cozy. This will help you let go of any residual tension and prepare you for a fresh start the next day.


5. Nourish your body.

There are several reasons why we might find it difficult to properly nourish our bodies during the holidays. For instance, when we’re preoccupied with a laundry list of responsibilities, we can easily get caught up in a busy day and forget to take care of our basic needs. Or perhaps we’re surrounded by people who engage in insensitive diet talk, and we want to avoid their potential judgment.

Regardless of these challenges, nourishing your body is one of the most vital ways in which you can take care of yourself. You can make this a habit by hydrating regularly, setting reminders to take vitamins and medications, and eating intuitively. Don’t let the pressures of the holiday season overshadow your basic needs and preferences—you deserve to nourish your body in a way that feels good to you.


6. Set boundaries.

Setting boundaries is often one of the most effective ways to prioritize your wellbeing, but it can be difficult in practice. If you want to evade an uncomfortable situation in a less confrontational way, you could change the subject, excuse yourself from the room, or find ways to connect with your support system. However, setting boundaries requires direct communication that might sound something like the following phrases:

  • “I feel overwhelmed, and I’d prefer to be alone right now.”
  • “I feel uncomfortable when you talk to me that way.”
  • “If you keep saying that, I’m going to walk away from this conversation.”
  • “No.”

Boundaries differ depending on the circumstances, but they often include an expression of how something makes you feel as well as a statement for how you are going to handle the situation if it continues. Some people might be receptive to your feelings and immediately respect your boundaries. But if someone does not respect your boundary, you should still follow through on what you said. Setting boundaries is not always about getting other people to understand you; it’s about prioritizing your comfort and needs regardless of the other person’s reaction. 

Although self-care is easier said than done and there are nuances to every situation, I hope these tips help you nurture your mental, emotional, and physical needs and protect your peace during the holidays. Don’t forget to go back to the basics when practicing self-care, as these simple reminders can make a world of difference. For additional support, you can use our Wildflower Company Planners to reflect on what kind of self-care you need the most and schedule time for it in your everyday life. You got this!

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