Stress Busting Holiday Self-Care for Moms
The holiday season is upon us. And moms are stressed. We feel the need to bring the magic of Christmas, Hanukkah, or New Years into our home (or all 3). So we saddle ourselves with way more responsibilities than we can handle and simply fizzle out. We don’t actually enjoy the holiday season, and feel as if it’s another item to check off our never ending list. But there is a solution to this – Self-Care. While self-care is a necessity for moms year round, the holiday season is the time moms need to engage in self-care even more.
But, I don’t want you to stress about coming up with holiday self-care ideas, so I’m taking the guess work out of it, and sharing the ideas for holiday self-care that I’m implementing as a mom.
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1. Change Your Mindset About Holidays
First, things first, in order to truly reduce your stress level, you need to change your mindset about the the holidays. That means, you need to stop viewing yourself as the only person in the house responsible for bringing the magic. And also feeling that if you don’t bring the magic and do all the things on your list (and I bet it’s a long list), that your whole family will fall apart. They won’t. Chances are, they won’t even notice. And that realization may be a painful one for you. Because deep in your heart, you probably break down every year over the fact that you put so much thought into every little detail, and no one in the family truly appreciates it.
So, why not employ a Flexible Mindset and try something new this year. Delegate your magic making responsibilities to the rest of the family. Sit down and make a master list of all the things you want to accomplish during this holiday season – it should include all the decorating you want to do, all the gifts that need to be purchased, any sort of household projects that need to be done, any special cooking and meal preparations, etc. Be as detailed as possible. And after you write it all down, spend the time looking over the list. Are there any things that can be stricken out right away? If so, do it mercilessly. The smaller the list, the less stress you have.
After you make the list, share it with the family. If your kids are older, include them in ticking tasks off the list. Tweens and teens can amaze you with their ability to set up and decorate a tree, and not only come up with, but cook a gourmet menu. If your kids are younger, lean heavy on your partner and consider cutting the list down even more. Do you really need to do Elf on the Shelf just because everyone else is doing it?
Don’t do all the holiday prep alone. It’s not necessary and will just leave you burnt out. Holidays are about joy, love, light and family. And for the most part, your family does not care if the tree looks like the one you saw on Pinterest. Or if the cookies look as good as the bakery’s. Kids want warm and sweet memories, not picture perfect moments. And your body wants to relax and enjoy the holidays, not deal with PTSD like symptoms every year.
2. Take Time To Actually Relax
Now, that you’ve started working on changing your mindset about all that needs to happen around the holidays, you may find pockets of time to actually relax. Gasp! Is that even possible? Yes. So don’t you dare try to fill that time with something “productive”. The most productive thing you can do, is take time to yourself to relax and recharge your batteries.
When I feel stressed during the holidays, I make sure to take time for myself. I do an extra yoga session or take a mindfulness break, draw myself a relaxing bath, retreat to my comfortable Lovesac to read a book or write in my journal, go for a walk, talk with a friends, or watch a favorite show. I resist the urge to do anything around the house that may need to be done or just one more errand. Because constantly doing just one more thing will leave your in an endless loop. There will always be just one more thing.
3. Holiday Self-Care Should Include Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries is an incredibly important self-care activity for the holidays. It will help you actually stick to more slimmed down holiday to do list and protect your much needed relaxation time. Setting boundaries will mean saying no to some things that you’ve done in the past but have realized are unnecessary now. It may mean saying no to an activity your child wants to do because you need to relax. And it may mean being firm with your own negative self-talk about not doing enough for the holiday season.
Set those boundaries. They are there to protect you mental health.
4. Focus on Your Mental Health and Wellbeing
Since stress is huge in motherhood and especially around the holidays, it’s important to focus on our mental health and wellbeing. If you’re prone to depression or anxiety, this may be a great time to connect with a counselor (you can find information on finding a therapist in my Resource Library) or increase the number of sessions you’re already doing.
This is also a great time to take up journaling, as a way to organize your thoughts, write down your worries, and reframe them in a more positive light. Just being able to sit down and dump all the anxious thoughts that are bumping around onto a piece of paper feels cathartic, and can help you see the problem from a different angle. Or you can use the journal to connect to the beauty of the holiday season, and thus help reframe your thoughts from that perspective.
5. Focus on Physical Self-Care
While taking care of your mental health and well-being is very important, you should not forget physical self-care. One sneaky thing that happens when we’re under stress is that our whole body starts to work overtime and eventually burns out. You may be experiencing issues with sleep, increased aches and pain, cravings for sugar and junk food. All of those things happen due to stress. So make sure that you incorporate physical self-care into your holiday routine as well.
If you’re noticing that you’re experiencing more aches and pains, you should slow down and address those. You can take an Epsom Salt bath to relax your muscles or rub some well diluted essential oils on your skin. Dry brushing your skin can also bring many benefits like increasing circulation, exfoliating, and releasing feel good hormones. It also helps you connect to your body. People often feel disconnected from their bodies during times of stress and dry brushing can help bring that connection back.
6. Get Active
Make sure you stay active during the holiday season. With all the busy running around, a lot of moms forget to actually exercise and take care of their health. And this will cause added stress and then the cycle of holiday weight gain, followed by self-loathing, followed by a strict diet and exercise regime come the New Year. Avoid that!
Always remember that exercise is not all or nothing. To derive physical and mental benefits of it, you don’t need to do much. A daily walk around the neighborhood, a 15 minute yoga, barre, or HIIT session (I get all 3 from www.downdogapp.com) is all that’s needed to keep your stress and pounds down.
So, get moving!
7. Make Intentional Choices With Food
As I said before, holidays lead to some less than stellar health choices. There are delectable cookies, cakes, chocolates, and other sugar laden snacks galore, not to mention the lack of time you may feel. That lack of time can lead to a lot of drive-thru meals and high calorie snacks. And while, I don’t believe that someone’s weight should ever be at the forefront of everything, I do know that those unhealthy food choices leave your brain and body frazzled, and not functioning at their best.
So, make sure that your holiday self-care includes eating in an intentional way. (You can learn some intentional eating tips and snag a free guide in Learn Intuitive Eating While in Quarantine). By eating in an intentional way, you are allowing your body to get the necessary nourishment from fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy unprocessed proteins and grains, while leaving room to indulge in the coveted baked goodies.
8. Get Some Sleep
This is a big one for all moms. We are all perpetually exhausted and lacking in much needed sleep. And during the holidays, you may be sleeping even less. And that’s not a good thing. So make sure you go back to the first holiday self-care idea I proposed (Changing Your Mindset) and strike out all the unnecessary things to make room for extra sleep.
If you can get a quick nap in instead of wrapping presents or mopping the house, do it. If you can go to bed an hour earlier or sleep in on the weekend, instead of racing out on another errand, do it. Make sleep a priority on your self-care list. You need it!
9. Connect With People Who Are Important To You
While making sure you connect with those you love around the holidays is always a great idea, it is even more important now. With the pandemic raging, a lot of us are forgoing family events in favor of staying home with only our immediate circle. That can be draining in itself but having to do this during holidays feels even worse. So, make sure you take the time to connect virtually or over the phone.
Humans are social creatures and crave social contact. But just because you can’t do it in person, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it at all. Take it from someone who lives half way across the world from much of family and friends, virtual contact is much better than no contact. You can talk, laugh, and connect over the computer screen.
10. Allow Yourself To Enjoy The Magic of Holidays as the Best Form of Holiday Self-Care
Now that you’ve changed your mindset, slimmed down your to-do list, set healthy boundaries, indulged in a relaxing bath, after a nice yoga session, it is time to enjoy the holidays. Allow yourself to fully experience and immerse yourself in your favorite parts of the holiday season. For me, it’s decorating my house with lights, enjoying the beauty of lights in my neighborhood, listening to Christmas music, and baking holiday treats.
For you it may be watching holiday movies, wearing comfy pajamas, or having a snow fight. Whatever it is, enjoy it to the fullest. Have fun during the holidays. Don’t make them all about stress and gifts. Gifts are not important. What is important is building memories with your loved ones. Your kids won’t remember what gift they got which year but they will remember mom being happy and smiling while string lights up in the living room. Or the smell of hot cocoa that was waiting for them on the first day of Christmas break.
And don’t forget to treat yourself to a gift. You know you’re worth it. It can be big or it can be small but don’t neglect yourself. If you’re looking for some ideas read 5 Holiday Gifts for Mom to Put a Sparkle in Her Life.
Cheers! And Happy Holidays!