We call the holidays “the most wonderful time of the year” and it can be. It can also be busy, demanding, and emotionally overwhelming especially for those who are grieving, isolated, or struggling with depression. But you don’t need to fall into one of those groups to feel the pressure. According to an NBC survey, 45% of people would like to skip Christmas altogether! If you’re one of them, or thinking you someday might be, we’d like to give you a very special pre-holiday gift: self-care ideas to help make your spirit brighter. Who knows? One (or more!) of them may become your favorite new holiday tradition!
Strategy 1: Schedule time for yourself
The holidays can come with lots of events and obligations. Work parties, worship services, school celebrations, and family gatherings can add up quickly, especially when you have cookie exchanges, shopping trips, cooking, and decorating to add to the mix.
This is a perfect time to up your planning game. Use your family calendar, bullet journal, planner, or google calendar to take note of all activities. It will help you avoid over-committing, double-booking, and getting just plain stressed out.
While you’re planning, it is important to block time for self-care. Whether that means workouts, a series of routine massages (our favorite!), or watching holiday movies at home, it’s a great way to make yourself a priority and help reduce feeling stressed, overwhelmed, stretched thin or resentful when you want to feel merry and bright!
Strategy 2: Get enough sleep
Holiday celebrations, and the prep they require, can tempt us to stay up late and get things done. But remember, sleep is important to our physical and emotional well-being. Cheating sleep too often (or too severely) can shortchange our physical and emotional stamina and leave us ill-prepared to cope during this stressful season.
According to The Mayo Clinic, keeping a regular sleep routine, avoiding big meals before bed, creating a cool, dark, quiet bedroom, avoiding daytime naps, getting physical exercise, and keeping worries at bay are keys to restful sleep, even during the holidays. If you find yourself too wound up to sleep, talk to your massage therapist. They can customize your regular massages to include relaxing techniques that can help promote healthier sleep. (After all, Santa won’t come visit if you’re still awake!)
Strategy 3: Use social media mindfully
The holidays are a time for togetherness. So, if you’re feeling lonely or isolated during the holidays, it can be tempting to turn to social media for human connection. While it can be fun to see pictures of faraway friends (and their trees, their cooking, and their kids) in your feed, it might not be the healthiest haven in the long run. According to a recent study, high social media use can increase rather than decrease feelings of loneliness. Though it sounds counterintuitive, the same study reported that reducing the use of social media can help people feel less lonely and isolated and improves their well-being.
If social media is important to your life, take heart! There’s no need to go cold turkey. Instead, start with one or two of these great strategies and take note of how it makes you feel.
● Turning off your phone’s data connectivity while driving, at work, or spending time with friends and family
● Leave your phone in a drawer or in another room while you’re sleeping
● Disable notifications and use your phone only when it’s convenient for you
● Take social media apps off your phone and check in on a computer instead
When you are on social media, try to remember not everything is as it seems. Try to avoid comparing yourself, or your holidays, to the images put forward by your family and friends. Perfect pictures are not proof of a perfect life. Keeping perspective can help keep your holidays happier!
Strategy 4: Respect your financial limits
Generosity is part of the spirit of the season. But with the average person spending $846 on presents, it’s easy to see how it can strain your budget, and contribute to your holiday stress level.
To keep your spending within a comfortable range, keep impulse spending to a minimum. Instead of hitting FOMO-fueled frenzies like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and holiday sales, shop mindfully with a list and a spending limit. You may find yourself with more thoughtful gifts, fewer forgotten friends and a healthier budget come January!
Strategy 5: Simplify your gift-giving
Crowded malls, limited parking, long lines, and this year’s supply chain challenges can make shopping a challenge. But it doesn’t end there. The creative energy that goes into selecting and securing thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Simplifying your gift-giving by making meaningful, strategic choices can really help.
In a recent blog article, Psychologist Honey Langcaster-James explains the stress of gift giving saying, "what makes gift-buying and giving so stressful is not having a clue what to get someone and having to browse around the shops at the busiest time of the year looking for ideas and fighting over all this year's must-have purchases.” Instead, she suggests sitting down with a list of people you’d like to buy gifts for and asking yourself what might really delight them. If you’re feeling stumped, she suggests thinking about good times, intimate moments, shared secrets, or times and places that are special to you both. They might inspire the perfect gift!
Keep in mind that gifts don’t have to be things, they can be experiences too! For example, a gift card for a massage session at Elements Massage® studios makes a thoughtful gift for almost anyone on your list. And because massage therapists customize every massage to the recipient’s individual needs, it’s a deeply personal gift too! Perhaps best of all you can skip the mall entirely and buy a local gift card at your next massage appointment or by clicking this link for a gift card that can be used at any locally owned and operated studio nationwide.
At Elements Massage studios, your wellness is important to us during the holidays and all the other days of the year too! If you have more questions about self-care during the holidays don’t hesitate to ask your massage therapist. And if holiday stress becomes overwhelming or if you stay sad for too long, remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Groups like Warmlines, Anxiety and Depression Support Groups, and Suicide Prevention Lifeline are all available support groups that are accessible online or via phone, whenever needed.