Making Time for Yourself at the Holidays

woman with a dog in the snow

While full of joy, the holidays can also be a tough time to live well and manage stress. If it’s hard to find time to take care of yourself this season, try adjusting your approach.

It’s a common occurrence: many of us feel heightened stress during the holidays. The season that is supposed to be filled with happiness can easily turn sour if you don’t put your own needs somewhere among your priorities. Especially if you get to the point of putting your health, or finances, or pleasant relationships at risk.

We often notice that during the holidays, people tend to experience heightened emotions. You may find loved ones feeling lonely and so you feel compelled to help. On the other hand you can lose patience with your loved ones when you’re buried under extra demands. It can’t be worth it. You truly may need a break!

Setting aside some “me time” is a sensible way to offset and cope with stress during the holidays. Here are two keys to helping make this more possible for yourself.

1. Keep It Simple

Perhaps you’re welcoming out-of-town guests, or hosting family festivities. You want your home to look warm and inviting, and you’re already feeling the time crunch of extra shopping, cooking and visiting. In short, the holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate.

Can you cut back before you’re drowning in to-dos? How can you avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself?

  • Don’t feel obligated to entertain a big crowd—let someone else volunteer one in a while and thank them for their generosity.
  • Realize that everything doesn’t have to be a perfect reflection of your own holiday fantasy—simple and homespun is fun.
  • You may lead, but you don’t have to do everything yourself. Involve friends and family, and delegate. Sharing is caring.
  • Get practical: ask everyone to bring a dish. Do a grab bag to cut back on shopping. Dress in jammies or sweaters and enjoy your comfort.

2. Schedule Your Alone Time

With so much happening, you really might not know how to have a moment alone! Honestly, no one else is going to do this for you—it’s important to make time for yourself, take a breather and clear your mind. Even spending as little as 15 minutes alone in the morning could make a world of difference in your day.

Wondering how you can fit this in, between all the end of year deadlines, shopping, cooking, wrapping and partying? Make time for it!

  • Go for a short walk in a winter wonderland. Quiet your mind, enjoy the scene.
  • Sit back and listen to your favorite holiday songs. Close your eyes and relax.
  • After waking in the morning, take several deep breaths, smile and give thanks.
  • Visualize to calm down. Imagine your happy place, or recall a happy memory.
  • Self-soothe with focused breathing as you wait in line at the store or post office.
  • Create a “Need to Do for Others” list and a “Need to Do for Me” list. Alternate tasks between the two—for instance, after buying gifts for your mom, head to the gym for your workout. This way, you won’t feel dragged down or deprived, because you’re consciously being good to yourself…which you deserve!

When you practice self-care and put yourself first through the holiday season, much like filling the tank with gas on a long road trip, you are able to be more available to others, and to see and do what you wish for, without resentment or exhaustion. It’s a Win-Win!