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The season of giving is upon us. But how can you give to others if you don’t give back to yourself first? It’s easy to become depleted around the holidays. Many of us work longer hours to spend less time with our families, while the pressure to give and receive gifts is immense.
It’s not just holiday pressure that might have you feeling frazzled. According to the Harvard Medical School, your brain goes into actual overdrive from trying to tick too many to do’s off your holiday list. The prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls planning, emotions, and attention) sees the holidays as a threat. This leads to decreased memory and fewer brain cells.
Finally, If you need any more convincing that the holidays are stressful, the American Psychological Association also reported that 38% of people say their stress levels increase during the holidays.
So, what can you do to be the best version of yourself and avoid the stress this holiday season? First, take a deep breath and remember December is another month of the year. Then, practice self-love.
What is self-love? Self-love is learning to say no to family and friends (without guilt). Self-love is being kind to yourself. Self-love is knowing you can’t have it all and do it all. It’s the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season. This guide will help you put self-love into practice to avoid holiday burnout.
Remember to take care of yourself. Research shows you’re less likely to be active around the holidays. It might be tempting to take a nap on the weekend or binge-watch your favorite TV show, but if you take small steps to be active, your body will thank you. Instead of driving, take a short walk to the grocery store or stretch for ten minutes. It’s better to get moderate exercise than skip it altogether.
Overindulge in moderation especially when it comes to holiday foods. Take pleasure in eating your favorite holiday snacks but eat well the other half of the time, too. It’s easy for nutrition to take a backseat, especially when we’re stressed, so here are some simple ways to eat well:
Cancel your plans. Take time off to re-evaluate what is most essential for you this holiday season. There are zero reasons to feel guilty for not attending every holiday event you’re invited to. To find out your priorities, start a daily gratitude list. Write down one thing you’re thankful for and it will become clear where you should direct your energies.
Give yourself credit. If you’ve been clocking in extra hours at work to pad your wallet or working late because you’re taking a holiday vacation—acknowledge it! Your boss won’t always notice you finished a project early or found a new client (especially when they’re busy too). Show self-love and share your accomplishments with those that want to hear about them.
Learn to be mindful. Step into relaxation and out of stress with mindfulness practices. Carve out time for yourself to try a yoga class or take one minute to breathe deeply on your commute to work. Reducing stress isn't complicated and has proven benefits like lowering blood pressure and boosting the immune system.
Negative feelings associated with the holidays like anxiety and depression might not always go away, so make sure to reach out for help if you need to. Sondermind can connect you with licensed mental health practitioners in Colorado, Texas, or Arizona. If you’re located elsewhere speak with your primary care provider to connect with a therapist in your home state.
Remember to be intentional with your time for self-care. Think of what’s most important to you, simplify your routine, and take deep breaths as the holiday season passes.