It's the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the year...
Or it can be. But it can be very exhausting and absolutely overwhelming. It's hard enough keeping up with work, parenting, partners, pets, errands, house - you know, life. Add to it that it's cold, dark at 5:00 p.m., and oh yeah, shopping, baking, plans, travel, secret santa gifts, parties. You're trying to shoehorn it all into the usual chaos.
Next thing you know, you feel rough. You're not sleeping enough, and forget drinking water and eating a balanced meal. If you're like me (and hopefully you're not in this case), you can't remember the last time you had a vegetable but it was definitely before Thanksgiving. This, along with the physical toll that continued stress takes - no wonder you're feeling both mentally and physically fried.
So, to keep your health and sanity, I'm sharing some self care tips for the holidays. Look, I have very strong thoughts about the monetization of self-care and societal expectations, but sometimes caring for yourself is literally about keeping up with routine system maintenance for your mind and body The last thing you need is to get sick or burnout during the holidays.
Get Your Vaccines
If you've already had your COVID-19 vaccines - awesome! That's great! But have you gotten your booster? If not, do it.
If you haven't gotten your COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your doctor. If you trust them for other health issues like meds to treat strep or how to prevent heart disease, you can trust their guidance on this, too.
Also, do not forget your flu vaccine! The flu sucks, y'all, and while it's not as lethal as COVID, it still can be dangerous for kids, pregnant women, the elderly, and disabled people.
Take Your Meds
It's safe to say that a majority of my readers, customers, and friends are on some type of daily medication, whether it's for blood pressure, anxiety, or ADHD. I also know first hand that when things are hectic, it's really easy to forget to take your meds. So, how to remember?
I find it really does help to set an alarm every day as a reminder to take my meds at a time where I know they'll be both a) easily accessible and b) convenient. So for me, that's 10:30 a.m. I'm at my desk working at that time and I usually have some coffee or water to take with it. I don't forget nearly as often and I'm much better off.
Set your time when you know it will work for you and put that reminder in your phone.
We all have to do things we don't really want to do, and the holidays are no exceptions. Spending every Christmas Eve with your vaguely weird in-laws? Ehhhh. Baking 6 dozen cookies for a youth group event? Bleargh. But in the end, it's fine and you're glad you did it or you even had fun (even if you'd rather be in your soft pants watching Great British Baking Show).
However, you are under no obligation to spend time with people that harm your health and you are under no obligation to engage in activities you can't afford or don't have the bandwidth for.
I hear a lot of stories from friends and loved ones about how they have to spend time with toxic family members at Christmas and how it's absolutely miserable. I promise, you don't need to put yourself in this situation. Put your mental health first and say no.
You're pressured to chip in money you don't have for a gift? Your work is doing a workplace gift exchange and you're stretched to your budget? You can politely decline.
Best thing about setting boundaries? You don't even need to give an excuse. No is a complete sentence, and it's okay to use it.
Limit Holiday Magic
If you're a parent, this is a tough one. You want to make the holidays memorable for your kids and create magic for them. Often, this turns into trying to cram as much holiday fun as possible - all the parades, visits to Santa, Elf on the Shelf, gingerbread house decorations, movies, baking, light displays, pictures, matching pjs - etc.
However, it's okay to scale back a bit and just do what works for your family - consider this a hassle free holiday!
If you love setting up fun situations for your Elf on the Shelf and the kids get a kick out of it? Go for it. If you struggle to remember to move the elf - just put it in a visible part of your home and tell the kids he or she wants to be a part of the action and is very comfortable in that spot.
Drive through lights shows are great, but the lines to get in can be beastly, especially on the weekends and by the end of waiting and making it through, half your car is in tears. Instead, turn on holiday music and drive around the fancy neighborhoods and scope out their decorations instead. Bring snacks.
Want to skip the big craft projects and kits that are a mess and the kids lose interest in halfway through? Printable coloring pages or coloring books and new crayons or some holiday storybooks can be a great alternative that are simple, affordable, and just as fun for the kids.
Holiday magic doesn't mean having to do something. Keep it low key with movie nights. There are a ton of holiday movies on every streaming platform. Disney Plus has all the Mickey's Christmas, etc. Toss a blanket on the floor and turn on a classic. Feel free to do this literally every night. I won't judge.
Baking and decorating cookies can be a blast, but it can also be a lot of work. Skip a few steps by going with good ol' slice and bake cookies. Put down a few garbage bags or a cheap plastic table cloth to make cleanup a snap for decorating. If they end up looking weird after decorating, well...I guarantee they'll look better than mine. My gingerbread cookie cutter has a weirdly placed seam so all my gingerbread men appear to be disconcertingly anatomically correct. Also, my five year old just eats the sprinkles, my 7 year old puts all the frosting on one cookie. It's fine.
Basically, what I mean is, holidays are a lot more magical when you're not running around absolutely stressed out. Don't sweat glittery snowman and Pinterest perfect cookies and do what works for you and your family.
While You're Here, Finish Holiday Shopping
If you still have holiday shopping to do, while you're here, we've got you covered.
Our Essentials Gift Set with a bar of soap, bottle of lotion, and lip balm all in a cute stocking is perfect for teachers and only $10. Bars of soap and jars of Body Polish are ideal for stocking stuffers. Gift cards are always appreciated. You've got this. Take care of yourself.