6 Self-Care Ideas for the Holiday Season

December 15, 2021 by Spectrum Credit Union

Feeling a little like comfort and joy are in short supply right now? You’re not alone. This year provided plenty of challenges for everyone. And even if we take time off during the holidays, seasonal expectations can produce their own brand of stress. It’s real: The American Psychological Association even created a Holiday Stress Resource Center to help us manage the stressors that typically arrive right along with Santa.

This time of year, it’s worth remembering that taking care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of others. And practicing self-care doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive or time-consuming. We’ve rounded up six ideas to help refocus, recharge and give back to yourself a bit this season.

Free-ing Freebies

1. Holiday your way.

It’s easy to feel pressure to strive for the idealized versions of holiday perfection. But sometimes it can be liberating to throw out the rulebook and reevaluate. What’s important to you this season? Planning something meaningful with your children during their school break? Writing caring notes to loved ones who live far away? Give yourself permission to, say, decline an event invite or be okay with not building the two-story gingerbread house this year. Rewrite the script, and align it to your priorities as you need to.

2. Stop and smell the pine boughs.

Whether it’s getting active outside in the brisk air or cocooning inside with an aromatic tea, try to include personally enjoyable moments in each day — not just your holiday obligations. When you take time for positive things, your experience of the whole day becomes better and negativity fades. Counting your lucky stars helps, too. Research shows that people who regularly express gratitude reap the benefits of greater happiness.

Costs next to nothing

3. Escape from the ordinary.

Everyone needs a break from the routine. Not only does it let your mind reset, but evidence shows it also increases our sense of wellbeing. So, give yourself the chance to experience something new and different. Act like a tourist in your own town by going on a museum tour by yourself. Take that drop-in yoga class you’ve wanted to try but never have. Download a podcast out of your typical rotation. Or start a new annual family tradition by taking a hilltop hike at the regional park together on New Year’s Day. Any change counts.

4. Create a new rest ritual.

Most of us probably cringe when we see our iPhone or Android device’s screen time feature documenting exactly how many hours we spend on it. Not to mention how many of those hours may occur at nighttime. Getting good sleep is required restoration for the mind and body. But many of us skimp on a full night’s rest. Experiment with setting downtime or app limits and set a rule of no screen time before bed. Then, try out calming ways to relax, such as reading a new book, journaling, sipping a warm beverage, listening to soft music or donning a weighted blanket.

Go ahead and indulge

5. Do a little self-gifting.

Little rewards — or prudent pampering — can go a long way toward the overarching goal of self-care: focusing on you. So, if the budget allows, give yourself a well-deserved present that makes you feel good. Redecorate a room with inexpensive touches. Get yourself that new healthy living cookbook you wanted. Order the new pair of running shoes you read about. Schedule a manicure. Spruce up your home office with new desk accessories. The possibilities are endless, but the aim should be one thing that’s all about you.

6. Invest in a passion.

Demands of work and family plus the holidays may seem to eat up most of our energy, but it can be rejuvenating to carve out time to do something you truly enjoy. Favorite activities, hobbies or other personal interests can be valuable therapeutic avenues to reduce stress and boost mental health. Whether it’s calligraphy, music or tennis, hobbies can be essential parts of a well-rounded life, because they engage us in creativity and mastery. Is there a particular skill you’d like to take up a notch? Is there something you enjoyed doing years ago that you’d like to revisit? Setting aside some funds to help you pursue things you’re passionate about can be self-care money well spent.

Defining self-care — your way

Self-care is something that everyone can benefit from, but there’s no one-size-fits-all formula. The fact is, it can be anything you want it to be. The goal is to get in the habit of seeking out ways to renew and recharge that truly help enrich and empower your health and wellbeing. And at this holiday season, that’s a personal gift we all can use.

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