The time you invest in yourself to reduce stress will deeply benefit you and everyone around you. Try one (or more) of these self-care strategies to stay cool, calm, and collected during the holidays.
“The holidays stress people out so much. I suggest you keep it simple and try to have as much fun as you can.” – Giada de Laurentiis
7 Self-Care Strategies to Keep Holiday Stress at Bay
1. Set a positive intention for the day.
This is such a simple way to stay in tune with a peaceful inner state. An intention is a prayer of sorts that invites spiritual support by remembering what we most want to bring to fruition.
What do you wish for yourself, for this day?
- May I feel like I’m enough.
- May I feel like I have enough.
- May I let go of negativity.
- May I allow joy to happen.
- May this day prove that peace exists.
- May I find humor and light today.
Positive intentions invite a sense of trust that good things can happen, which can be helpful during stressful times that are meant to be joyous.
2. Meditate on it.
Meditation and conscious breathing train your body to pause and relax, especially when you feel overwhelmed. Meditation makes it easier to cope with stressful situations, and it doesn’t need to take a lot of time out of your day; in fact, meditating can insert more life into your day. Even a few minutes a day can change everything.
If you want to start with some breathing exercises, here are a few ideas:
- Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, hold that breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. Repeat as often as needed. Read more about the 4-7-8 breathing method.
- Inhale through your nose for a count of 4, and exhale through your nose for a count of 4. Read more about equal breathing.
- Try Ujjayi, alternate nostril, or abdominal breathing–read more about these 3 exercises.
3. Take a cat nap.
I’m usually not one for taking naps, but the research on its benefits is intriguing. Cat naps are short, light, and refreshing. They can:
- Restore alertness, cognitive function, and memory
- Improve mood and help you think more clearly
- Restore wakefulness and enhance performance and learning
You have permission to take a nap.
4. Stretch and reset.
Throughout the day, pause and stretch. If you can roll out a yoga mat, that’s wonderful, but it’s not necessary.
Stretching can improve your range of motion, increase circulation, and calm your mind. I have personally found that stretching, even if I only have a few minutes to spare, not only counteracts the tension in my neck and back, but it gives me a chance to clear my energy.
You can find a lot of ideas online, whether you’re looking for a whole-body stretching routine or daily yoga stretches. It’s best to consult your doctor, physical therapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, physical trainer, or another professional for personalized advice.
5. Go slow.
Sometimes life can feel like a whirlwind and we’re fighting just to keep up with all that’s going on.
- Consciously choose to go more slowly.
- Check in at least 3 times throughout the day.
- Center yourself with your breathing.
Eat more slowly, talk more slowly, read more slowly, breathe more slowly… it’s a habit we can cultivate, and it’s one that can dramatically deepen our experiences, connections, and receptivity.
Gabby Bernstein shares a fantastic post and video about slowing down here. She suggests checking in with your speed at least 3 times throughout the day (enough to create a new pattern) for at least a month. You can check in at meals, when you’re sending emails, when you’re driving, or any other time.
When you notice yourself speeding through something, take a long, deep breath and come back to center.
6. Write yourself a love note.
When all of life feels like too much to handle, and the to-do list keeps growing, take a seat and write something down. Make another kind of list: a love list. This is a short note to yourself. In this note, remind yourself about:
- Why you’re doing what you’re doing
- The small victories you’ve made along the way
- The invaluable lessons you now know
- Why you’re worthy of your own love and self-compassion
- What you’re grateful for (make it specific)
- Your intention to keep learning and keep smiling
When times are tough, practice self-compassion. It can be a life-changing, life-saving practice.
7. Ask for help.
Asking for help when we need it is a sign of strength. Seeking support is a humble display of courage and a testament to the beauty of unity. We all need help sometimes, and not only is that okay, but it’s a beautiful thing. It means that none of us know it all, and it allows us to keep learning new things.
We’re all here together, and we are all healing from something in our own way. Find solace in that truth, and let your desire for peace overcome your fear of judgment.
- Which of these strategies would you like to try, or do you already practice?
- How do you manage stress during the holiday season?
- What is your intention today?
- Do you have any of your own self-care strategies that you’d like to share?
Please share your own practices, lessons, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share these self-care strategies with someone you care about.
Everything is going to be okay.
Free texture by Sirius-sdz; lettering by Aim Happy.