The holidays will undoubtedly be different this year. Many people I know are already under a lot of emotional strain for a number of reasons – and the added pressure of the holiday season during a pandemic carries the potential to trigger more stress.
One way to seek emotional refuge is through self-care rituals. Self-care is imperative at any time of year. It is not a selfish practice. Yet, during the holidays when expectations and stress-levels run high, it is particularly important to ground yourself with positive, nurturing pursuits. If you are not entirely convinced, consider that you will be much better equipped to give to others by first taking care of yourself.
There are boundless opportunities for self-care and personal growth if you make it a priority. The good news is that they involve very little, if any, financial commitment. If self-care does not come naturally to you, below are some ideas that will hopefully inspire you to “take care of you” — from the inside out.
1. Rest up.
Sleep is the gift that keeps on giving — and acts as an insurance policy for your mental and physical stamina. During the holidays, many people have a tendency to drink more alcohol and eat later in the evening. Remember that sugar — and alcohol in particular — can disrupt your sleep. An overactive mind can be another culprit. If this is the case, try some meditation apps to calm the mind and body and ease into a more restful slumber (we recommend this mindfulness meditation). Be sure to maintain your exercise routine as well — it’s one of the best natural antidotes to stress.
2. Forgive someone.
The end of year is typically a time to take stock of the last 12 months and set goals for the upcoming year. One way to significantly carry less stress is to consider forgiveness. The act of forgiving someone that has hurt or disappointed you can heal you in myriad ways.
Ask yourself, “What (emotions or thoughts) can I let go?” If there is someone you wish to forgive that is no longer in your life, that’s fine too. Forgiveness can be considered an “inside job.” The person you are forgiving does not even have to know about it — it’s your choice. Expressive writing and journaling can help you let go of anger, grudges and judgment. Forgiveness can be the ultimate game changer that inevitably opens up more expansive feelings of joy, peace — and better health.
3. Make amends.
It is an auspicious time of year to try to make amends with someone you may have hurt in the past. As meaningful as letting go and forgiving another is, the act of asking for forgiveness can be just as liberating. Make a plan for what you wish to say — but be sure to make your apology authentic and sincere. Also, be prepared for the fact that the person you have wronged may not be receptive to your apology. You can’t force anyone to grant you forgiveness. However, if you have apologized and sincerely tried to make amends, you also have to be willing to let it go, and move on.
4. Write out your intentions.
Whether you make new year’s resolutions or not, December and January are popular months to set goals and intentions. One way to mindfully create a plan to invite positive change into your life is to create a personal mission statement. Mission statements provide focus, intention, and conviction. The process will help you define who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to put out into the world. Alternatively, you can make a vision board, using images and inspirational words that help define your dreams and aspirations for the coming year.
5. Spread glad tidings and be of good cheer.
At this time of year, the ubiquitous holiday music can make you want to tune out — but the message is often meaningful. Spreading “glad tidings and good cheer” may sound clichéd but it is a reminder to simply have fun, laugh more, and be kind. This is also the time of year to go deep. Find a way — no matter how seemingly insignificant — to help others that are less fortunate.
*Original version published on Inc.com