For most of us, self-care doesn’t come naturally. Especially during the busy weeks surrounding the holidays, we tend to over-exhaust ourselves and put our health on the back burner. This societal “New Years Resolution” concept has us spending the month of December in a whirlwind bender of to-do lists, unhealthy eating, not enough sleep, and far too much stress. As if January 1st will magically bounce our mangled bodies back to life and clear our minds of the chaos it had just been through.
It doesn’t work that way. But the millions of companies who profit from your “New Years Resolution” want you to think it does.
REMEMBER: The year begins new each and every day.
First, let’s scrap the idea of putting off our self-care until January 1st. What a giant disgrace to your body, mind, and soul. Now more than ever, our bodies need us to take care of them. We put them through so much over the holidays and expect them just to wait until the new year to be loved. That concept stops right now. Here are 10 easy self-care tips to start your new year today and truly take care of yourself through the holidays and beyond.
1. Sleep more.
Seems impossible, huh? Well, not really. Start by shutting down even 30 minutes earlier at night, turning down lights, shutting off screens, and getting yourself ready for bed. Make your way into bed 30 minutes earlier and allow your mind to shut down. Once you see the benefits of this practice, you may find yourself heading to bed even earlier. Sleep is your friend, especially during the winter months.
2. Do less.
To practice this self-care tip, simply remove one thing from your plate. Do it right now. Find one thing on your to-do list that isn’t absolutely necessary. And I’m not talking about putting it off until later or adding it to tomorrow’s to-do list; just remove it – for good. You will quickly find that life goes on, even when these seemingly “must-do” tasks don’t get done.
3. Give experiences, not gifts.
If you’re like most people, the majority of your stress over the holidays comes from buying gifts. Hear my plea: we all have too…much…stuff. None of us need anything, and if we do absolutely need something, I’d like to think we would go out and buy it ourselves. Try replacing a gift with an experience for at least one person on your list. Why not go out for dinner with a friend, versus exchanging meaningless gifts? Or spend time volunteering at a soup kitchen with your husband, instead of getting him another sweater he doesn’t need. You’ll feel lighter and happier, I promise.
4. Set time aside each day for yourself.
It’s far too easy to get caught up in being “busy”. Here is a shocker for you: you create your own busy. Mhmm, that’s right. BUT, this means we can create our own calm, too. Simply set aside 10-60 minutes each day for nothing but yourself. Making it the same time each day will solidify your habit and get your family in the routine of leaving you the hell alone. Go for a walk, meditate, read a book, get a massage, go to a yoga class (ahem), sip a hot coffee, journal, breathe. This is your life and you need your time.
5. Take a nap.
Side note: this cannot be combined with #4. Even on your busiest days, taking a 20 minute nap will leave you feeling more calm and clear-minded. Give your body a break, find a quiet space, and let yourself doze. It’s okay; life will be there when you wake up.
6. Eat your fruits and veggies.
Notice I didn’t say, “Don’t eat those Christmas bars and sugar cookies.” What I am saying is this: eat the damn treats! But also eat your fruits and veggies so your body gets the nourishment it needs. It’s all about balance, people. Imagine the approximate ratio being 80% clean, healthy food and 20% delicious indulgences. Keep this in mind and you’ll be miles ahead of the people who are binge eating now and starving themselves come January.
7. Try restorative yoga.
Restorative yoga is self-care at it’s finest. Imagine it to be nap time for adults; with blankets, eye pillows, bolsters, calming music, and sometimes even hot stones. The teacher leads you in and out of a few different relaxing postures which are held for longer periods of time. This style of yoga truly allows you to connect with your self (body) and your Self (soul). This is also a great time to practice meditation and gratitude practices (check out #8 for more on this), getting your mind to a more compassionate and self-aware state. And if you think your life is too busy for restorative yoga, chances are you are the one who needs it most.
8. Practice gratitude.
One of the biggest sources of stress this time of year is the mindset of lack. Not enough money, not enough time, not enough energy. You have enough and you are enough. Try this simple gratitude practice to remind yourself of what you already have:
GRATITUDE PRACTICE: Each day write down 10 things that you are grateful for. They might be different each day, and you might have a few things that make it to every list. Allow yourself to be reminded of the things you already have, and let go of the things you think you need.
9. Be kind to yourself.
For some reason, we use the end of the year as a time to beat ourselves down, thinking about all the things we didn’t accomplish in the year before us. We degrade ourselves for not being enough, not doing enough; and we end up drowning ourselves in bad habits, poor self-care, and self-sabotage. Tell yourself this more often: “It’s okay. I still love you. There’s always tomorrow.”
10. Notice the unnoticed.
Don’t let yourself get caught up in the things that didn’t happen or the things that didn’t go quite as planned. Try noticing the things that typically go unnoticed. Be grateful for those family members who travel distances to see you, notice all the work your mom put into cooking your big Christmas meal, and don’t forget to acknowledge your simple (but beautiful) daily life that seems to be a bit more magical during the holidays. Light candles and enjoy them, play Christmas music and sing along, get outside and play in the snow.
Above all else, try putting yourself at the top of your priority list. I promise it will make for a healthier and more precious holiday season.