One of the things I’ve tried to focus on in 2016 was improving self-care. Not anything to do with eating better or exercising more (though they can be important components of it), I’m talking about bhow to better care for yourself mentally. Recognising when you’re not putting your own best interests first to the point where it’s actively harming you. In getting caught up in the spirit and togetherness of the holiday season, we can sometimes forget that it’s okay to take time out for yourself too.
If you’re going away for the holidays and you’re the kind of person who’s fond of a routine, changing your surroundings can be unsettling even if you’re spending time with family. Or if you’re staying put, but feeling the stress of the holiday season, it’s a good idea to take some time out for yourself.
So quickly, here’s 8 tips on how to practise self-care during the holidays.
If you have at least half a day and some money
1. Try a new cafe
Maybe you want to explore more of the city or maybe there’s a place that you’ve always wanted to try, but never gotten around to. Take some time out for yourself, either by yourself or with a close friend/partner and treat yourself to a coffee and some downtime.
2. Get a massage or your nails done
I do a lot of typing in my day job (who doesn’t these days?), so getting things like acrylic nails isn’t practical a lot of the time. I’ve been getting serious nail envy scrolling through Instagram, so I’ve booked an appointment to get some acrylics while I’m in Napier. Acrylics = holiday mode.
Or if getting your nails done isn’t your thing, take some time to get a massage. Even lying on a table or sitting in a massage chair with soothing music for a little while could be the stress relief you need.
3. Go do that thing you’ve been meaning to do for ages
Napier is my home town and it’s gone through quite an evolution since I left seven years ago. In my time off, I’m planning on taking the time to check out a few of these places that weren’t there when I lived there. If you have some time off, go do that thing you’ve been meaning to do for so long but have never gotten around to.
4. Alternatively, go do that thing you do all the time
Most people have that one thing that they do that calms them down. Whether it’s window shopping, shopping at your favourite place, getting a coffee from your usual… sometimes the familiar is all we need to soothe away some holiday stress.
If you have little time and/or little money
5. Go for a walk
My favourite time of day to go for a walk is at sunset, especially in Napier. The weather is usually warm and you can stroll away some of the stress of the day.
6. Listen to a favourite song or look up cute animal pictures
If you need grounding, look up your favourite song on Spotify or YouTube or head to r/aww.
7. Practice mindfulness
Everyone’s into it these days, but if you’re not familiar, mindfulness is the practice of learning to calm the mind and being present in the moment. Some easy mindfulness methods include closing your eyes and noticing five things each of your senses are aware of (excluding sight), or the 4-4-4 breathing technique. The 4-4-4 breathing technique is simple; breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts and breathe out for four counts. It’s meant to calm your heart rate and stabilise your mood.
8. Have a self-care buddy
Self-care buddies are people you can turn to if you’re feeling overwhelmed without fear of judgement. My self-care buddy is my husband, who’s understanding of my need to take some time out every now and then. Self-care buddies can be someone to talk to if you’re feeling overwhelmed (whether by phone, text or in person), or if you find you need help removing yourself from stressful situations, they’re someone who can be aware of your tics or tells and can give you permission (or an excuse) to leave.
For example, one of the things I find can be overwhelming is lots of noise in an enclosed space and some of my tells will show. My husband is great at picking up on these and asking if I want to go for a walk or if I want to go into another room. That way he’s taking the onus off me of feeling uncomfortable with removing myself from the situation and he’s giving me permission to take time out for myself when I might not be in a state where I feel I can give myself permission to do so.
Note: The only thing I’d suggest (or rather, implore) you to do is establish with someone and ask if they’d be okay with being your self-care buddy before springing it on them. If it’s someone far away, they might be in the middle of their own stressful Christmas and might not be in the best position to help you if you’re struggling. You should also explain to them when you’re not stressed how you normally react in these situations and what they can do to help calm you, otherwise they might accidentally make things worse.
If nothing else and you don’t feel you can give yourself permission to take time out for you this Christmas, I give you permission to take time out for you this Christmas.
What are your best self-care tips for making it through the holidays?
Lots of love
Mrs Greatnews xx