It is only two more weeks before Christmas, and around this time, the parties, holiday shopping, gift-wrapping, décor-hanging, and everything in between should already be in full swing. Top it off with some work deadlines, family reunions, and last-minute preparations for an upcoming vacation, and you’ve got yourself a hectic, jam-packed schedule for the holidays. You’ll brush it off with an “It’s okay because it’s Christmas / New Year’s Eve; it only happens once a year!”. Or, maybe an “I will just have a good rest after the holiday rush is over”, but before you know it, there are New Year’s resolutions to be fulfilled, new work targets and deadlines, and new life events to make plans for. Ah, the cycle never ends!
While it is not wrong to live life to the fullest, it is equally important to take a pause sometimes. Mainstream media has popularized the term self-care in the past years, and precisely it is what we need when things get a little too hectic - a little bit of care for ourselves.
What is Self-Care, and Why Is It Important?
The International Self-Care Foundation (ISCF for short, and yes, it does exist) adopts the WHO definition of self-care as “what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.”
In other words, self-care can refer to any activity that you do to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. According to this medically-reviewed newsletter, the purpose of self-care is to ensure that a person is healthy, capable of doing their job and fulfilling their daily goals, and help and take care of other people. It sounds more complicated than it should be, but the truth is, the definition of self-care varies from one person to another!
Some people view self-care as eating a bowl of their favorite ice cream after a long, tiring day. Self-care could take the form of a warm bath, a tight hug from a best friend or a lover, or something as simple as sleeping in for a couple more hours during the weekend. It can be anything that helps you cope with the stress of daily living – as long as it promotes good health and happiness for you.
And why is it so important? You need to take care of yourself to stay in great physical, mental, and emotional shape, that is. If all these factors are met, you will live a long and happy life.
How Do I Do Self-Care During the Holidays?
Now that we have defined self-care, the next thing we need to figure out is how to do it during the busiest time of the year. With all the Christmas preparations and buzz, most people tend to forget how to self-care, even what self-care is! (Self-care in December? Have you ever heard of such a thing??)
Don’t worry because I’ve got you covered! Listed below are five (5) of the best self-care tips that you can follow so that you can stay merry during Christmas!
1. Create a morning routine
Before getting out of bed, allow a few minutes to focus on yourself every morning. You can meditate, write in a journal, do yoga, or do a quick jog around the neighborhood. Anything except scrolling on your phone! You can do whatever you want to prepare your mind and body for the day ahead, and it does not have to take too much of your time. 15 to 30 minutes will do; make sure you do it consistently to develop it into a habit.
2. Take a deep breath
While sitting on your desk at work or waiting in line to pay at the grocery store, stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and hold it in for five seconds before you release. This simple breathing technique will release the tension and stress you have bottled inside. Try it, and you will feel instantly calm and relaxed as soon as you breathe out!
3. Put your phone away
I know you have to take a good photo of the Christmas tree you’ve spent five hours setting up in your living room. Then you also have to post in your social media accounts the outfit that you’ve carefully chosen for your office party. That’s okay, go ahead and post those! Then log off your mobile device afterward, just for 30 minutes a day. Try not to think of this as punishment but as a form of self-care instead. A digital detox – as it is called – allows you to think and have some peace. It also allows you to build a real connection with the people around you.
4. Give yourself time to feel.
The excitement and stress from the holidays will take a toll on all aspects of your health; that’s why it is crucial to confront your feelings. We tend to avoid showing sorrow, pain, irritation, and anger because we do not want to “spoil” the festive mood, but we must acknowledge that it is normal to feel those emotions. Hiding these negative feelings will only do more harm than good so when you are ready, deal with them on your terms. Let yourself feel - the good, the bad, and the ugly.
5. And finally – sleep.
A person needs to rest to function fully; staying up late for more than a couple of nights will make you tired, irritable, and anti-social. And who wants to be with the Grinch on Christmas Day? Rest when your body tells you to and if you can, make sleep a priority. When you get enough sleep, you are doing your physical, mental, and emotional health a huge favor. Think of it as self-care at its finest.
Some Final Words
There are a lot of misconceptions about self-care - they say that it’s selfish, costly, time-consuming, and too focused on indulgence. To avoid falling into the trap, you should know which forms of self-care can give you joy, peace of mind and help you feel recharged, then focus on those. Self-care, after all, is about taking care of your needs first.
It’s Christmas! Make self-care a present for yourself because why not?