Holistic Health and the Holiday Season: How to care for yourself during the holidays
The holiday season is my favourite time of year! It is filled with love, joy, happiness, magic, and miracles. Yet, it can also be filled with a lot of stress regarding finances, gift giving, time management, expectations, and so much more. All of that added stress can have a negative impact on our minds, bodies, and our souls.
Over the years, I have learned that stress over the holiday season can be controlled, but you have to put in the work. It’s not always easy, but our self-love and holistic health journey’s never really are.
Before we chat about how we can holistically take care of our health and wellness this holiday season, as always, we need to reflect. Some people don’t celebrate the holidays. For some, Christmas is just another day. And that is okay if that’s you. But you know that this festivities are still all around you – so even if this is the case, you can still utilize some of these tips to create a beautiful holiday that’s just for you.
Now if you’re someone who does celebrate the holiday season – no matter what that celebrating looks like for you – remember that you always have a choice. You get to choose what you create this season. Yes this year is more difficult than others have been. Argumentatively, it may be even more difficult then last. We are still living through a global pandemic and have all gone through a traumatic experience. First and foremost, take this into consideration. We all go through seasons in our lives, some more difficult than others – this one being one of those more difficult ones. BUT, we still have the choice to continue on with our lives in the best way possible for us. It is important that we take care of ourselves, especially during this time of year when tensions are high and anxiety is strong.
Now take a moment to reflect and begin by asking yourself:
What does the holiday season mean to me?
What do I want this holiday season to be for me? If I had my way, what would the ideal day look like to me?
Once you determine what you want, this can help you to set up your season the way you want to. By doing this, you are setting yourself up in a way to take care of your holistic health. Here are some ideas that you can use this year to help improve your own health and happiness:
Connection: If you are craving more time with your friends, family, or community – get out and do that. Find events in your area – Christmas markets to attend, coffee dates, or holiday parties. This time of year there are endless opportunities for connection. But if you’re restricted from traveling or seeing loved ones for whatever reason, utilize social media platforms like FaceTime or zoom, or any photo sharing app. Believe me, I know it’s not the same as being close and in person, but sometimes we have to make a choice to pivot or to fall victim to our circumstances. It’s up to you what you choose.
Setting Boundaries: As I said, this has been a difficult year, and if you are craving more time alone, set boundaries with your loved ones. Set time limits for how long you will attend certain events, and make sure they know this is for your best interest for your health and well-being. Some people may not understand right away and that’s okay, but if you are clear and open with your boundary setting, they will have to respect that. Work hard to ensure that you are not allowing anyone to break your boundaries and you will eventually earn that respect if you feel that you don’t have it yet.
Food and Nutrition: In my opinion this can be one of the more difficult tasks. It is important to continue to ensure that we are fueling our bodies with the nutrients it needs during this time of year. But I’m not here to tell you not to eat the dessert. I am here to tell you not to give up on your goals out of love for yourself. So go and eat what you want, or don’t – but be intentional about it. If you decide that it is best for you to eat that piece of cake, eat it with love, enjoy each bite. DO NOT eat the whole cake because “I might as well now that I ruined my diet”. Likewise, if you feel better when you don’t eat the dessert, make the decision that that is what’s best for you. And don’t forget to always make sure you’re adding some fruits and veggies into your meals. A tip – make the salad for Christmas dinner to make sure you’re getting your veg in. Or, have some extra apples, bananas or berries on hand for a yummy addition to your breakfasts.
Movement: Your schedule is going to be thrown off this season. You know that. Plan for it. If you are a scheduler and don’t have time for your normal exercise routine, add in a daily morning walk with family or friends, stretch while you’re watching TV, take a fun class at your local gym or studio. There are options if you learn to get creative. Find those forms of exercise that feel best for you and your body – just make sure you continue to move!
Self-care: This is one of the most important tasks – make sure you are taking time out for you. Plan something, at least one thing a day, that you will commit to adding to your schedule through the holiday season. Make your own Love List (download yours here if you haven’t already!) and ensure that you are showing yourself love each day. Meditation can also be helpful to create calm and balance in your mind. That doesn’t mean it has to be an hour long audio, it can be 5 minutes of mindful breathing to get back into balance.
Time management: I’ll say it again, you have a choice in how you create your holiday season, and while you are not a superhero and cannot actually control everything – you can control how you choose to show up. Use your time – schedule in time for you, for self-care. Schedule in time for exercise and movement. Schedule in your meals (as best as possible, the ones that you do have control over). If you take ownership over the things you can control, like your time, this will help to reduce stress.
Finances and gift giving: I saved the best for last 😉 One thing I’ve realized since the pandemic began, is that material items are not as important as I thought they once were. The holiday’s are about giving, but commercialism has created such epic impact on society that we spend all of our money, or go into debt to buy things for people. Most things, we don’t even want or need (how many more blankets and candles can one person have??) OK… let’s get serious for a moment. 1. The holiday season should NOT put you into debt. This is your first tip. Do not buy it if you cannot afford it. 2. Set yourself a budget at the beginning of the year and stick to it. Add money in each month and use this to pay for gifts so you’re not scrounging for money at Christmas time. 3. Shop locally and small. Sometimes this doesn’t help you save money, but it can save you from gift giving anxiety. This year I’ve made this a priority and I have felt so much stress lift off of me. I feel honoured to be helping other small businesses and am so happy with the products I find, that I am filled with gratitude and joy to be able to gift these things to my loved ones. Before, I would buy things just to buy them. Now, this helps to give meaning to the gifts I choose.
My final tip: I know this year is hard for a lot of us. The most important thing I believe we can do this year is keep kindness in our hearts. We don’t know what others are experiencing, what kind of pain they may be holding onto or what they are going through. Whether friends or strangers with the same or different beliefs that us – spread love and kindness to each and every person this year. We ALL deserve that.
The holiday season can be beautiful, but it is up to you to keep the joy, magic, happiness, and love in Christmas. I know it’s easy to allow anxiety and overwhelm to overcome us during this time of year, but if you focus on some of these tips – you can become an expert in creating how YOU choose to show up this holiday season.
If this post resonated with you – send me a DM over on IG @theleemichelle! I’d love to know what worked for you, what didn’t, or anything that I didn’t include that has helped you care for your holistic health during the holiday season!
Happy Holidays and until next time,