How To Take Care Of Yourself During The Holidays, According To Experts
Here’s the thing no one talks about in regards to the so-called most wonderful time of year: For a naturally anxious person, it can actually be super overwhelming, which is why it’s vital to figure out how to take care of yourself during the holidays. Once the snowy season is here, our social calendars can fill up fast with celebratory dinners, tree lightings, office parties, and Secret Santa gift swaps that take up a lot of time and, not to sound like a cheap-y Scrooge, but money, too. With so much going on in the span of just one month, it's super important to schedule (and stick to) time that’s exclusively for yourself.
If the holidays do tend to overwhelm you, take comfort in the fact that you're not alone. For example, celebs aren’t immune to holiday stress either. Kesha recently penned an article for Time discussing how she deals with her mental illness during the holiday season. The hustle and bustle of the holidays — having to be here, there, and everywhere with a gift in hand to boot — is enough to throw anyone off-kilter, even the rich and famous pop stars.
The key, Kesha said, is to take time for yourself. She wrote,
Do whatever helps you calm down and gives you a break from the stress.
Trying to spend all of your time pleasing everyone else is not only exhausting — it’s impossible. And you know what? If you take a little time for yourself, you will actually be much better company for those around you.
Self-care is so important all year round, but especially during the holidays when it's super easy to lose track of time under a pile of RSVP cards. Schedule time that's unapologetically yours, and refer to these expert tips on how to stay calm through stressful situations and holiday blues.
1. Take Deep Breaths
I know this sounds incredibly cliché, and it may be old news by now, but learning how to control your breath can be incredibly beneficial to both your mental and physical health when you're feeling particularly anxious.
Mental health advocate and author of The Happiness Diet Rachel Kelly tells Elite Daily that breathing in for seven seconds, and out for 11 seconds, is a great way to become "centered and in the moment." It's definitely something worth mastering, especially if you have a full calendar that doesn't leave a whole lot of "me" time available.
2. Don't Depend On Alcohol To Calm You Down
It's easy to resort to sipping on a glass or two more of wine when awkward family moments around the dinner table ensue, but alcohol is actually a really bad idea if you struggle with anxiety.
Because alcohol messes with your body's natural levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, downing more than a glass can spike feelings of nervousness. But, if you need spirits to lift yours, Kelly suggests keeping servings to "a maximum of two glasses of ideally red wine, which has the most health benefits," or mixing booze with sparkling water to lessen the effects.
3. Put A Limit On Your Gift-Giving
It's easy to lose yourself in the season of giving. I know myself, and when I sit down to draft a list of who to buy for, I almost always include people on my list who I a) probably won't see and b) consider distant friends. It's really easy to get carried away when everyone is looking forward to giving and receiving, but from a monetary perspective, sometimes it's just not realistic to go all out.
Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC tells Elite Daily that prioritizing your inner circle is a great way to cut down on costs. On a similar note, Dr. Steven Levine, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and founder and CEO of Actify Neurotherapies, tells Elite Daily that the most meaningful gifts are the ones that probably cost very little. So, before getting wrapped up in the materialism of the holiday season, take a step back to consider what really matters most this time of year.
4. Remember To Treat Yourself, Too
Holiday season is also grazing season, which means food on food on food. While some people can indulge in desserts and decadent entrees without a second thought, for those of us who struggle with an eating disorder, the holiday season can be especially tough to muddle through.
The key to eating through the season is to remember this only happens once a year, so it's not only OK to treat yourself, it's encouraged. After all, your mom only makes those delicious gingerbread cookies during Christmas, so why miss your one chance of the whole year to enjoy them?
"Remember that you get to choose what you eat even when you get pressure from friends and family members," Dr. Sherry Benton, chief science officer and founder of mental health organization TAO Connect, reminds us.
5. Practice Gratitude
'Tis the season of giving, but 'tis also the season to lose yourself to commercial gimmicks and the demand of material goods.
You may find yourself wanting things just because, or spending a ton of money on presents for people you don't actually consider all that close to you. So, when the giving and receiving portion of the holiday season gets to your head, remind yourself to stop for a second, and think about everything you have to be grateful for in this life.
"Take a moment to recognize and be proud of how far you have come," Robyn Cruze, Eating Recovery Center’s national recovery advocate, tells Elite Daily. "Share the gratitude and solutions to your struggles openly; it is a gift to our hearts and removes any shame anyone is feeling."
6. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Sure, when you're feeling a little anxious, it probably feels best to pass up on party invitations and kick it on the couch with Netflix and a blanket. But the benefit to having loved ones around during the holidays is that you always have a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough.
According to Cruze, the best way to lessen emotional triggers and stay calm throughout the holiday season is to have someone, or even a few loved ones, who you know and trust and feel comfortable confiding in. "Do what you need for yourself," she tells Elite Daily, "and encourage other family members to do the same."