The holiday season is often associated with joy, happiness and love, however, there are many of us that struggle with a case of the ‘winter blues’ as the daylight gets shorter and the stress levels rise. As with any other time of the year, it is important not to forget about self-care during the winter months, especially those leading into Christmas!
Often, I find that there are two major obstacles to my own self-care habits – I struggle with finding the time, and I struggle with coming up with good ideas. Both of these obstacles can be overcome with a little pre-planning and some inspiration.
First, you need to make time in your schedule to prioritize yourself. I know that may sound easier said than done during the holidays, but don’t forget that you won’t be able to take care of anyone else if you don’t first take care of yourself! If you use a daily planner to organize your day, schedule yourself in! Literally, grab your pen and write your self-care in as an appointment. This is an appointment with yourself and should be treated with the same degree of importance as appointments that you make with others.
Second, to help you with some fun self-care ideas I have compiled this list of my favourite 15 self-care options during the holiday season. If these ideas individually don’t strike a cord, use them as a starting point to create some of your own!
Pump up the Tunes
Whether you are already in the mood for Christmas music, jamming to your favourite versions of different Christmas carols, or if you are holding off and prefer to listen to your latest playlist of addictive tracks, music has always been a great way to practice self-care. Keep your music on you for some self-care while on the bus or train to and from work, or crank up your radio and sing and/or dance along while doing housework. Music can make nearly any task enjoyable.
Go for a Winter Walk
Bundle up and get outside for some fresh air and a little sunshine. Due to the colder temperatures, we tend to stay inside, locked in the stale, inside air away from all things natural. Break this habit and get outdoors! Whether you’re talking a walk around the block, hitting a favourite trail or making snowmen in the backyard. Spend some time outside!
Turn on a Holiday Movie
I don’t know about the rest of you, but there is something truly magical about holiday movies. I have already started to turn them on when I am having a stressful day as a means to relax and just enjoy the moment. I am particularly fond of the children’s movies, they are just so fun and light-hearted! For those that are huge romantics, this is also the perfect time of year to catch a sappy holiday flick!
Take a Day Off
With November and December comes A LOT of running around. Christmas parties, parades, shopping, decorating – it can be incredibly time-consuming, and highly draining. During the hustle, bustle that seems to take over the holiday season, be sure to take some time off to just relax and recharge.
Pick up a Good Moisturizer
Unfortunately, during the winter months, many of us fight the battle against dry skin. Treating yourself to a good moisturizing lotion can help you to feel happier and better overall. Don’t forget your lips, they get dry too! Pick up a moisturizing lip balm to combat dry, chapped lips.
Take in the Sights and Sounds of the Holidays
During this time of year, there is so much going on around the community. Check out any holiday concerts or performances being put on by local theatre groups and bands, or simply go for a walk or drive around (depending on if you’re in a fairly populated area or much more rural) to enjoy the holiday lights and decorations as they are popping up around you. My husband and I make a point each year of picking up a Tim Hortons coffee and driving around for one evening picking out our favourite decorations.
Treat Yourself to some Winter Accessories
This one benefits you in two ways – first, you get to treat yourself to a little something special, and secondly, that something special is going to help keep you warm on those cold, winter nights. My favourite aspect of fashion in the winter is the amazing accessories that are available. From fashionable scarves and warm gloves to statement boots and fuzzy socks.
Spend Time with Loved Ones
The best part of the holidays is the fact that it encourages to spend quality time with the people that we love. While time alone is a necessity, it is also important for your overall well being to also spend time with your friends and family. Include them in some of your activities to add that special extra element. For example, invite a friend to join you for your evening walk or catch up over a favourite holiday movie.
Enjoy a Hot Drink
As someone who is always cold, this cold weather can really chill me right down to the bone. You can put on the warmest clothes or spend your time inside in the heat of a nice, warm building, but it never quite seems to be enough… Sometimes all you need is a nice warm drink. Hot chocolate, apple cider, tea or coffee – whichever you prefer. There is something truly magical about that warm cup in your hands.
Relax in a Hot Bath
Another key way to warm up and free yourself from that ‘cold to the bones’ feeling is by running yourself a nice, hot bath. Pull out some of your favourite bath products such as bubble bath, bath bombs, Epsom salts and scented candles to make the whole experience even more enjoyable. I also suggest adding a nice hot, herbal tea or a glass of wine to the mix to take it to the next level of relaxation.
Spend a Little More Time in Bed
There is actually a scientific explanation for why this choice will make you feel a little happier and more energized. The natural sleep and wake cycles that help us to produce the sleep hormone melatonin are regulated by the amount of light that we are exposed to. This will cause us to naturally get less sleep, so we need to actively take steps to add sleep to our day.
Try a New Workout Class
One source of stress for many people is the extra food and sweets that seem to take over the holidays. Between the delicious family dinners and the amazing holiday sweets, it is no wonder that many of us deal with weight gain this time of year. Combat this stress and set yourself up for success by trying a new workout class in your area. It gets you moving, promotes better physical health, and it can be a ton of fun!
Curl Up with a Good Book
I know my fellow bookworms will agree that there is nothing more enjoyable than curling up with a good book in front of the fireplace. It’s that time of year! Pull out your cosiest pyjama pants, your favourite blanket and a cup of tea and relax with the book that currently is captivating your attention.
Do Some Holiday Baking
It is that time of year where we see Christmas everywhere – in the stores, on television, in our favourite magazines and across the internet. One of the fun aspects of Christmas is the fun of Christmas baking. Not only is the process of making some delicious treats incredibly enjoyable, but after you’re done baking then you get to enjoy eating them too!
Do a Digital Detox
As overwhelming as the holidays can be in person, it can get just as crazy online. Everywhere we turn there are Christmas advertisements suggesting that we buy more, spend more and do more. It is enough to drive even the calmest, more relaxed person crazy! Allow yourself to take some time away from all things digital, turning off the computer, putting down the smartphone and just enjoying life.
What are your go-to winter self-care routines? Do you have a favourite way of embracing the holiday season and keeping your spirits up?