Madly In Love With Me: How To Practice Self-Care During The Holidays
By Shilpa Bhim
The holiday season is upon us! With that comes a range of social or family gatherings and disruptions to your routine.
While it can be a fun time, if we’re not mindful of our wellbeing, our mental and physical health can take a hit.
To help you manage your mental and physical health during this time, I’m sharing my top five tips to practice self-care over the holiday season. Because taking care of yourself is the best way to enjoy the season!
It’s ok to say no to events
Between office parties, family gatherings and catch-ups with friends who have returned home for the holidays, our calendars tend to go from zero to one hundred real quick!
Now I’m all for a good party or catch up, but constantly dashing from one event to the next is exhausting.
Rather than saying yes to every invite you receive, take a moment to think about how you’re feeling mentally and physically. Feeling ready and excited to socialize? Great, head along to that shindig. Feeling a little overwhelmed, anxious, drained or like you need your own space or a nap? No worries. Say no to the invite and treat yourself to a cozy night in with takeout and some Netflix, or a good book.
Sleep deprivation impacts your mental and physical health, and not in a good way. In fact, Psychology Today found that not getting enough sleep has a significant negative impact on your mood.
Our bodies and minds repair and restore themselves while we sleep, which helps us to function and feel well the next day.
Even if you have a lot going on during the holiday period, make sure you are getting the rest you need. Most experts recommend around 8 to 9 hours of sleep every night for adults, with a bedtime between 9 pm to 11 pm depending on when you need to wake up in the mornings.
Where possible, try to stick to the same bedtime and wake up time as a regular sleep schedule will help you to maximize a happy, healthy and productive day the next day.
Drink and be merry – in moderation!
There always seems to be lots of alcohol flowing at Christmas and New Years’ events. While it’s nice to treat yourself to some drinks, be sure to balance this out with plenty of water.
Staying hydrated helps keep your body and brain in check.
In fact, one study found that just a small amount (1.6 percent) of fluid loss in the body is detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety and fatigue.
Get your blood flowing
I’m talking about exercising! Physical activity releases endorphins and boosts serotonin, which helps you relax and improves your wellbeing and mood.
Not keen to venture out into the cold? Try an at-home workout, or if you live in an apartment building, walk up and down the stairs.
Alternatively, bundle up and head outside for a light stroll. You’ll have the added benefit of getting some fresh (or crisp!) air which helps with your overall health and wellbeing.
Spread the holiday cheer
Spending the holiday season surrounded by family, friends and good food is something to be grateful for but isn’t something that everyone one is fortunate enough to experience.
If you know someone who will be alone over the holiday period, reach out to them for a chat, or invite them over for a meal.
This small act of kindness can make a huge difference to them! In addition, research shows that being helpful to others impacts positively on your mental health.
Similarly, if you won’t be around family during the holiday season, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends or colleagues. Family is who you make it, so surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.
Finally, a bonus tip from me to you: remember to just breathe.
Take a moment to practice the 4-7-8 method. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. This small act is known to relax and clear the mind, reduce anxiety and assist with your body’s physical functions by releasing muscle tension, improving digestion and increasing your energy levels.
If you’re after more tips for practicing self-care check out my top 8 tips here. Above all else, remember to put your health and happiness first – ‘tis the season to be jolly after all!
Shilpa is a freelance health, beauty and travel writer from Melbourne, Australia. When she’s not writing, she’s out and about exploring places around Australia and the world. You can keep up with her adventures over at @skb.ontherun and check out her latest articles here.