The holidays can be an amazing time but they can also be stressful. Whether you’re braving crowded stores for last-minute gifts or wrapping up those final projects at work before the vacation, things tend to pile up. Regardless of what you have going on, you’ll want to destress and enter the new year with a healthier mindset and what better way to do that than with some self-care practices?
Self-Care Practices and Tips
Self-care has become synonymous with excessive spending and regular trips to Sephora but it doesn’t have to be. It isn’t all bath bombs and sheet masks! While those can be great ways to relax it’s just as important to be productive and mindful. Now is a great time to start practicing healthy habits and making changes no matter how small. We reached out to a few wellness experts for alternative (and mostly free) ways to decompress during the holiday season and beyond. Read on to discover their self-care tips.
Get Started on Your To-Do List
Sure, it’s not glamorous or fun but it has to be done. Grab a pen and paper or open up the notes app on your phone and start listing out your priorities for the day. Madineyah Isaacs, life and leadership coach, explains, “This mindful pause is really helpful to organize your day and getting it out of your head. Writing it out also makes you feel more connected to it and seeing it written down feels more achievable. It will help you feel empowered for the day, knowing what needs to get done.” By now that number of errands and tasks for the day seems more manageable and way less stressful.
Write It Down
You’ll need a pen and paper for this one too, similar to gratitude journaling (also worth a try), fitness and lifestyle blogger Vanessa Barthelmes has a practice that really makes you reflect. She explains, “One of the self-esteem boosters I like to do is to write down one thing you did that made a difference today.” It doesn’t have to be a major thing, did you help someone with a task or activity? Or maybe you gave someone some great advice, no gesture is too small. “To be honest I usually find this pretty hard but when I chat with my husband he can always think of something I did that day to make a difference.”
Breathing exercises can be especially helpful in relieving stress. There are a few methods, you can look up on YouTube of course but Kelsey Cohrt, certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, has an easy go-to method. “Take two minutes, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and do four rounds of deep breaths. An easy sequence to remember is Box Breathing. Count to four as you breathe in, four counts to hold, out for four counts, and hold for four counts. Do this four times.” So why does something so simple work so well? “Breathing exercises have been shown to support blood circulation, creativity from the fresh burst of oxygen to your brain, and to ease stress. Definitely well within the self-care spectrum.”
Go to Bed
Another one that sounds pretty obvious but if you’re up late because of stress or work it can take a toll on your health. “Honor your body’s natural circadian rhythm by going to bed earlier.” Explains Casey Kaczmarek, holistic health and wellness coach, “If it feels right, move your bedtime up by 30-45 minutes. In doing so, you’ll body will sync up with the natural rhythms of nature and you’ll feel more refreshed when you wake up in the morning.” If you’re having trouble getting to sleep earlier herbal teas and vitamin supplements can help.
Get Real About How You Feel
If you’re busy or overwhelmed it can be easy to neglect your emotions. Be sure to make time to discuss and acknowledge how you feel in the best way you can. “Whether that means journaling, talking with a friend or seeking a support group, allow yourself time and space to experience what you are feeling.” Leslie Nifoussi, author and mental wellness blogger, explains, “Yes, we can ‘choose happy’ but there are times when we have to actually sit with and feel negative emotions in order to process them and understand why they are there. Use your instincts here. If you acknowledge what it is you’re feeling and it doesn’t fade over time or you can’t cheer yourself up, then it’s time to get professional help. Otherwise, learn to offer yourself empathy and compassion and see what happens.”
Once you’ve got your self-care methods down pact be sure to make time for them even if it’s just a few minutes. Kaczmarek explains, “Create a list of your top 3-5 self-care practices. They might include taking a yoga class, drinking your favorite herbal tea in silence every morning, having a hot bath at night with your favorite bath salts, or journaling in the evening before bed. Whatever they are, pick those self-care practices that feel most authentic to you and your needs, then choose at least one to implement every day for 15 minutes. If you have more time, that’s great. But so many people don’t these days, which is why I recommend just 15 minutes a day to reboot your self-care practice and feel more balanced in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.”
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