Holiday Self-Care

It seems that 2020 has interrupted our previously scheduled programming once again. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all, though. The festive season so often ends up becoming a time of general over-indulging, whether it’s via calories we wish we hadn’t consumed, or credit card purchases we wish we hadn’t made. Reflection is the flip side of revelry, and after this year, we’re totally here for it. These many long months have made self-care a priority for everyone right now, especially if it involves rituals that nourish the body and soothe the soul. So slow it on down already. Prepare to gift yourself with some ooh-sahs, and feel free to borrow from our list of self-care ideas to try this holiday.

Breathe Deeply

Yeah, we know it’s not exactly groundbreaking, but this one is major. You don’t need to call it “meditation” or “breathwork” or even be super-structured about it, but simple breathing exercises are a great way to create some mental peace for yourself during the holidays...and any other time, too.

Try Box Breathing, for example. Breathe in for four counts, then hold it in for four counts. Breathe out for four counts. Wait for four counts before starting the process again. Some people do this while envisioning going around the four sides of a square, but it’s not necessary to the process. You can even give it a try right now––we’ll wait for you.

It works because it’s easy and takes your mind off of whatever else had been occupying it before (things like work worries, errands to do, conversations you wish had gone differently, and so on––we do all of that stuff, too). It’s also a great way to finish the day once you’ve climbed into your bed. You might even find yourself drifting off to sleep after a few breathing boxes!

Not into Deep Breathing? Try These Alternate Options:

  • Light some pine-scented incense
  • Turn off the TV and put away the phone for two solid minutes of silence
  • Take a winter stroll or hike all by yourself
  • Leave the lights off for one evening and use only candles instead

Get Creative

Now that you’ve made the mindspace thanks to some deep breathing, engage a different part of your brain. You know it but might not remember it so vividly. Hint: it’s not the part that handles the dishwashing and laundry-sorting, the things we’re all doing a ton of these days. It’s the free-associating, inventive, lightning-in-a-bottle side that needs a workout right now.

Please know that you do not need to run out and buy an easel, paintbrush, palette, or a matching smock-and-beret artist’s getup, okay? There’s plenty of ways to express your creativity, even if you’re not especially artistic or crafty enough to wield a glue gun.

Try whipping up an unfamiliar recipe as practice for your quar-pod’s holiday gathering. Experiment with hair braiding for that cousins-only Christmas Eve video chat (however, get those scissors far, far away from your bangs unless you legit know what you’re doing).

Go through your closet to try to come up with a couple of new outfits that utilize the old clothes in different, unexpected combinations that could work for the socially distant holiday plans you’ve made––and don’t forget to include winter accessories in the mix!

Your creative projects don’t need to be pegged to the time of year, either. You can revise the layout of your living room or invent a new use for something you have on-hand (maybe that dish towel could be a scarf, after all!) in any season. Engage your ingenuity alongside young kids by playing a game, like glancing up at the sky to discover what shapes you think the clouds look like that day. With older kids and teens, compile a playlist together for a random time of day or a quirky mood, like songs that rebalance the energy after someone tells a dud joke.

All of this is to say that anything can be creative if you let it be, and unleashing your imagination is a unique form of self-care. By accessing your own creativity, you can reap tangible and intangible rewards.

Prefer Traditional Crafts? Try These Alternate Options:

  • Collect pinecones and shape them into wreath
  • Use leftover bits of wrapping paper to make a collage
  • Decorate your shelves with “snow” aka: stretched-out cotton balls
  • Make pom-pom ornaments out of extra ribbon

Make Another Kind of List

No, we’re not implying that a gift list of all the stuff you should buy for the people in your life is a self-care ritual. We’re talking about another type of list, one that’s all about you.

Maybe it’s about writing a list of all the things you’re proud of accomplishing this year. Or a list of all the things you like about yourself. You can make a list of all the things you’re grateful for, or a list of things you’re excited to do in the future.

Whatever type of positive, self-reflective list you decide to make, be sure to actually write it down. There’s something about physically jotting out your list, putting pen (or pencil) to paper, that lends gravity to your feelings, hopes, and achievements.

Another plus of writing down your list is that you can go back and reread it easily when you need some soul sunshine at a later date. With traditional holiday plans upended, it might be that you’ll have yourself a merry little Christmas––emphasis on the “yourself” and “little” parts. Keep your head right during the winter doldrums or after a particularly tough day with a peek at your positive self-affirmations. Think of it as a holiday gift to your future self, and one that’s totally free, natch!

Prefer Writing to Others? Try These Alternate Options:

  • Send a hand-written Christmas card to someone you love
  • Write down a favorite holiday memory about your family to share with them
  • Leave a thank-you note for your mail person, UPS, or FedEx courier
  • Email someone you’ve been meaning to reach out to for a while

Prioritize Lounging...and Loungewear

Celebrating the season with copious merrymaking is an important tradition that’s fun to do. But giving yourself a break from all the hoopla is just as important. Even if we won’t be racing around town trying to “show face” at every holiday party on the calendar this year, we’ll likely find a way to over-extended ourselves again; that’s simply the nature of the most wonderful time of the year.

That’s why every once in a while, it feels good to lie in bed. all. day. long. The joy of missing out is real, so give yourself permission to do it during the holidays! Even if you can’t skip out on the action, you can still carry the chill vibes of those days into your routine with some new, well-chosen loungewear options.

Why bother with stylish loungewear if you already have cozy (read: ancient) sweats lying around, you might ask? Because they’re like concealer—for your wardrobe. They erase flaws, like that raggedy tank top you’ve been wearing to sleep in for years, and divert attention away from scraggly ponytails, making you feel magically more pulled-together should you encounter a roommate, significant other, or family member.

Comfortable yet kinda glam loungewear picks like a boho fringed tunic or a colorful kimono also say––to yourself––that you’re fabulous enough to scramble some eggs and sit on the couch in style. It’s truly a mood-boosting treat to dress well even when no one’s watching.

Prefer Shopping for Others? Try These Alternate Options:

  • A sweet ruffled swimsuitfor little girls, complete with cherry print, for your niece
  • The perfect plaid dressfor your BFF’s low-key holiday plans
  • A crochet cover-upfor your sister’s next tropical vacation (it’ll happen one day)
  • The ideal printed bikini bottoms: scalloped, lace up, goes with everything

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