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10 ways to practice self-care at the holidays

liz lamoreux

Dear beautiful soul,

We're in it aren't we? This beautiful, hard, spirit-full time of year. The Holidays.

Today, I want to reach out and invite you to think about shifting your self-care a bit to support you right now. It still needs to be on your list - your "this is non-negotiable" list - even as you wrap presents and bake cookies and run to the store yet again and how the list goes on and on.

Here are a few ideas to help you think about ways to practice self-care right now. Choose just one from this list to try. Or let these ideas be a springboard for your own.

The important thing: Take time to slow down and notice. Let yourself just breathe within the present moment instead of rushing toward expectations and stuff or whatever else your schedule holds. 

Create space to enjoy the simple things you love about the holidays

Make a quick list of things you love this time of year. Pretend that there isn't a to-do list connected to this and let go of thinking about what your family members love. What do you love? Look over your list and choose one or two and create space to make them happen.

Here's an example: There’s something about the lights of our Christmas tree at night that invite in a sense of stillness for me. I love to simply sit in our family room with just the lights of the tree on while I drink a cup of tea. I just breathe and try to let my thoughts rest as much as I can. When my thoughts are really restless, I’ll stand at the tree and look at the ornaments that represent the childhoods of my husband, myself, and now our daughter. My favorite is the popsicle stick sled from my first grade teacher that I’m holding together with tape after all these years.

Light candles

I've been mentioning this one often lately, and that's because it is such an important practice to me and my family. When it starts to get dark so early in December, I begin to light candles at dusk. Lately, I've been going back to this practice: When I light them, I often whisper a little blessing of gratitude for something that happened during my day. This pushes me to really notice the positives from the day. Then when I blow the candles out before heading to bed, I say blessings of protection and love for my loved ones. 

My current favorites candles are these from Moorea Seal and these amber candles.

Music

I’m one of those people who loves most holiday music, but even if you aren’t a huge fan, there is probably at least one album out there that makes you smile. Maybe it’s Bing singing "White Christmas" or Elvis or Johnny Mathis or Kenny & Dolly. I love just about any version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," but the one sung by John Denver and Rolfe from The Muppets always brings a wave of nostalgia that feels like home to me. Create a holiday playlist for yourself. 



Creating an altar with photos

Getting out a few photos of the people I miss this time of year helps me to keep them in my mind and heart. It feels good to have them around me instead of letting missing or distant memories get me down. I like to gather a candle and a few small things that remind me of that person, like the shells shown in the example of me walking with my grandpa on the beach, and create a little remembrance altar.

Find stillness

As your mind swirls with all that must get done, you've got to slow down and get recentered honey. Even just taking those five deep breaths several times a day can be supportive first-aid self-care this time of year. Create some reminders for yourself to pause and breathe. This might mean setting a reminder on your phone every few hours. Find a way to just get still. And if you need ideas, check out this post.

Connecting

There are so many parties and gatherings that we can feel we "must" attend, and then in contrast, so many of us can feel lonely at the holidays (whether we have these gatherings or not). As you figure out your schedule over the next few weeks, make the choice to connect with the friends and family who most support you too. This might mean a coffee date, a phone call or getting on Skype, or even texting with a loved one. Make time for those deeper connections. And remember, you don't have to say yes to everything. You really don't dear one.

 

 

A cup of tea

I bring up drinking tea often in my self-care suggestions because I really believe that making and then drinking tea (or coffee or hot cocoa) engages all of our senses. This act of slowing down and noticing the smells and taste and even the feel of the warm mug in our hands helps create space for quietness and calm. You can even turn making and drinking a cup of tea into a ritual that grounds you daily and gives you some time just for you.

And this is the part where I say: You can even make your stop at Starbucks this ritual. Skip the drive through. Go inside and order. Then sit and just breathe and take five minutes for you while you drink your latte. Try not to look at your phone for those five minutes.

Get outside

I know it might be really cold where you live, but get outside anyway. If you don't, you're going to go stir crazy. You need the fresh air. You need the sun. You need to remember that there is a big world out there. You need to remember that the birds will keep singing and the trees will keep reaching up toward the sun no matter what this time of year brings you. Go for a walk even if it's just for a block or down your driveway and back.

Let yourself feel all the feelings

This time of year can bring up so much. From expectations to past hurts to hopes that this year your family won't talk about {fill in your own family's story here} to wishing your kids would all smile for the photo to missing loved ones...there's a lot of feelings swirling. Try not to judge the feelings that are coming up for you. Let yourself feel them. Yes, you are allowed to feel sad. And yes, honey, you are allowed to feel happy! And all the other things in between. In fact, you can even feel conflicting things at the same time. You get to choose. (You also get to choose what you do with these feelings. You can dwell. Or you can create your own experience this year. It might be hard to see that, but the choice is there for all of us.)

And remember that those around you have swirling feelings too (even those who might be hurting yours). Tread gently.

Think about how your self-care might have to change this time of year

Maybe you're visiting family or a whole crew is headed your way. Maybe you have to work on Christmas Day. Maybe you're alone for the first time. As you look at what's ahead, think about how your self-care might have to shift. Do you need to get up a little bit earlier because the kids are on break? Do you need to ask your spouse for different kind of support? Do you need to set a boundary around how much you're cooking? Do you need to let go of some pieces of your daily self-care practice due to time and travel?

Think about what pieces of self-care are non-negotiable for you and brainstorm some ways that you can still make them happen.

Then ask yourself this question: What could shift so there could be more ease, more space to really enjoy my loved ones and what I love about this time of year?

I'm cheering you on over here. We really can hold the beauty of the holidays in one hand and the truth that sometimes they are hard in the other.

Give yourself the gift of coming back to center several times a day over these next few weeks.

You deserve to feel the love, and those you love do too.

Blessings,

Liz

PS Feel free to share your own self-care ideas and tips in the comments. I love when we can learn from one another.

photo credits: top photo Lauren Oliver Photography, third photo Vanessa Simpson of Focus in Photography