It’s that time of year: crisp carols fill the air, trees don their twinkling lights - and cars pour into the streets for holiday excursions always made more interesting by variable winter weather.
Self-care can come into play as a year-round practice, but it can be especially important - and sometimes more difficult - to maintain during this annual season of tidings and cheer, and also hectic travels and gatherings. The days are short. The family is loud. The food and drinks are plentiful. It can be a wonderful retreat from the norm, but also more difficult to maintain those elements of routine that keep you balanced.
Here are a few tips for continuing your self-care practices as we move through the 2019 holiday season.
1. Create a self-care kit.
Create a small, portable packet of little goodies that can help bring the calm internally when there’s chaos around you (be it from family, or remembering that you forgot the sweet potato casserole on the kitchen counter halfway through your road trip. Grab your CBD, a refillable water bottle, chargers to keep your phone and music going, some chapstick, a couple bandaids, your favorite essential oil and a piece of velvet if pleasant sensory experiences help ground you.
If you can’t access all of your typical care routines like regular exercise, or perhaps overindulge a little in the sugar or beverages, your self-care kit can help you reset your mental space in the interim.
2. Plan ahead. Build flexibility and extra time into your plans.
Yes, we admit this isn’t always possible. But it’s a great goal to have that will set your holiday travel off right. If your job allows, try to leave a day early or stay a day later than the days that bookend your holiday. The roads may likely be less crowded, and airline flights are often way more affordable. And, if there are resulting delays from weather or other unforeseen circumstances, you won’t have to worry that the ham (or tofurky) is cold by the time you get to the table.
If you’re not able to take extra time or adjust your schedule - and you’re not super big on tradition - consider “alternate holidays.” My mom and I almost always shop for and celebrate our own “Christmas” after the day itself - taking advantage of post-holiday sales and a lot fewer shoppers milling the malls. The reduction in stress could be arguably more important than the date significance of the holiday. After all, every family and tradition is different!
3. Set your goals. Stick to them. Get back to them, even if you falter.
Do you want to refrain from overindulging during the holidays? Do you want to make sure that you stick to an exercise routine while on the road? Set your goals ahead of time. Write them down for accountability. It’s been said that self-discipline is self-love. And self-discipline and self-care work hand in hand.
Goals and intentions are powerful tools. Yes, we know it’s not that simple to just create and stick to a habit or a routine, especially during the end-of-the-year sprint of cheer. Be gentle with yourself if you eat one too many cookies, or if you only get out for a brisk 15-minute walk instead of 45-minute jog. This gentleness and compassion, at the heart of your goal-setting, can help you circle back to encouragement and stick to your self-care intentions throughout the 2019 holiday season.