Written by Dylan Foster www.healthwellwise.com
During the holiday season—which seems to get a little longer every year—regular self-care practices can fall prey to the hustle and bustle. Then people spend all of January and February trying to get back on track. Instead of losing a third of the year to chaos, take control of your self-care practices year-round, starting with these strategies.
Tip 1: Build in Daily Movement
It might be harder to get to the gym or run miles outdoors in the shortening daylight, but that doesn't mean you need to hibernate the winter away. Mayo Clinic recommends that you practice winter safety strategies when you workout outside, like dressing appropriately for the temperature and conditions. It’s a great way to beat the stress, and it’ll feel good to catch some sunshine and fresh air, even if it’s chilly. The cooler temperatures may also inspire you to take your yoga practice outdoors. If you’ve been slipping in your yoga practice, now’s the perfect time to reconnect by taking online classes through Yogaaah.
Whether you work out outdoors, walk in the mall, or stick to a home gym, you can track your daily movement and heart rate with a fitness tracker. For instance, the Apple Watch offers a variety of features, such as heart rate monitoring and fall detection. It’s also safe in weather conditions like snow and ice, thanks to water-resistance and durability.
Those looking for something less complex can find it with the Fitbit PurePulse. It’s a simpler fitness device with fewer bells and whistles, but it does provide continuous heart rate monitoring so that you can track your health over the long term. Devices like these allow users to have a baseline for daily activity that can help them stay active even when the days get full.
While there is some debate over exactly how many steps you need to take each day, the biggest benefit of monitoring movement is making sure you stay at your own daily average. Harvard Health Publishing recommends aiming for 150 minutes of cardio-level heart rate elevation a week. If you get 30 minutes of heart-pumping movement five days a week, you'll be set.
Whether it's walking through fields to pick out the best Christmas tree or having a dance party with the kids, regular movement can be added into the holiday festivities with some thoughtful planning.
Tip 2: Learn to Say “No”
While the holidays are often jam-packed with fun and joy, many of us end up saying “yes” to events out of a sense of obligation. As your calendar starts to fill, take some time to reflect on what is truly fulfilling. Saying “no” can be difficult because people fear hurt feelings or ostracizing themselves from important professional connections. However, saying “no” is an important part of setting healthy boundaries and taking control of your time.
Instead of trying to rush from party to party to avoid letting anyone down, pick the event that truly helps you connect meaningfully with the people who are most important to you. Let everyone else know you appreciate the invite but are already committed elsewhere. Clearing your other commitments also frees up your mental energy to truly be present at the events you do attend. You might be at fewer places, but the people there will get to see a truer, more connected version of you.
Learning to say “no” also applies to your family. For example, if your children are begging you for the latest video game, it’s okay to tell them “no” — especially around the holidays. This could be a good time to introduce them to an allowance, which you’ll give them based on conditions you both agree upon (dusting, cleaning up around the house, etc.). Not only will this help your children learn the value of money and spending, but it can also provide you with a little assistance around the house!
Tip 3: Build in Calm Traditions
So many holiday traditions are built around being busy. Cramming ourselves into crowded shopping malls, competing online for the best flash sales, and visiting limited attractions in crowds of people are all expected. These activities can be fun, but we can end up getting pulled along for the ride rather than intentionally creating traditions that fit our goals.
Reading aloud together as a family on Christmas Eve, playing board games after a holiday dinner, or simply lounging around in pajamas for a whole day without any other plans can all be meaningful traditions. These little moments of calm can become the stepping stones to move you through the holidays with peace and purpose.
The holidays are almost universally stressful. It takes some intentional practice to keep the chaos of the holidays from derailing the self-care routines we work to build the rest of the year. However, the end result is worth the effort!