When the Holiday Blues Hit, Self-Care Is Key — But It’s Not One Size Fits All
Whether it’s the holiday blues, seasonal stress, or simply a packed schedule, this time of year can take a toll on anyone. It’s also the time of year when self-care tends to take a backseat to the endless to-do’s on our list. So let’s take a moment to sit back and think about what it is that we need right now. What will help me take care of me? (And no, it doesn’t have to include a bubble bath.) Here, contributing editor Sheryll shares her self-care checklist that helps her get through the holiday blues.
It is now officially the holiday season! Hooray! It’s time for peppermint mocha lattes (the true supreme … pumpkin spice lattes are gross), warm fuzzy socks, lots and lots of food and candy and friends and family.
The holidays are a joyous time. There’s presents and snow and nostalgic holiday movies. There’s delicious food and candles that smell like pine trees and candied apples. There are all the videos of kids SO happy and excited while opening their Christmas presents. There are the parties that you can get glam for. There are Christmas trees and gorgeous twinkling lights.
But sometimes … the holidays can be a real buzzkill.
There are the long lines at the mall. The angry people who cut you off trying to get that last parking space at Target. The videos that will go viral of people acting like maniacs during Black Friday. Then there are the countless office holiday parties and that potluck lunch that you have to go to and no one eats Karen’s green bean casserole and you have to hide that secondhand embarrassment. Or maybe you’re far away from friends and family, and the holidays are a really lonely time. Or maybe you’re just not that into the season and all of the hullabaloo is a real bummer. And trust me, seasonal depression is also a mega b-word.
Whatever the case, whether you’re a die-hard holiday stan or the holidays are a bit of a drag, it’s a time to reflect and practice a bit of self-care. I admit, I kinda hate what marketing people have turned the phrase “self-care” into — bubble baths, wine, Netflix binges, never leaving the house. And trust me, that is fine and definitely counts as self-care. But self-care, especially around the hectic holidays, is more than just that.
Take me, for instance. I’m an introvert to the core. I enjoy being around people, but I can only take so much before I start to get really withdrawn. It’s around this time that I like to take stock on what I need to “fill myself up,” so to speak, so I can return to the world as a functional human being. Then there’s also my PMDD and just general anxiety. So self-care is pivotal, especially during the hectic holiday season.
I’d like to really drive home the point that self-care can certainly be wine and baths and Netflix binges, but for me, self-care is a wide range of activities. The point is doing whatever you need to do to make yourself feel like your best self. I actually have a checklist that I go through to determine how I can make myself feel better when I need it the most. See if any of these apply to you.
The Self-Care Checklist
1. Am I tired? Am I hungry?
If I’m tired, I’ll take a nap. If I’m hungry, I’ll pull out one of my favorite cookbooks and make myself something delicious. One of my favorite recipes is the Turkey and Ricotta Meatballs from Julia Turshen’s cookbook Small Victories. Putting on a podcast while methodically making meatballs is one of life’s simple pleasures.
2. Do I need to go outside?
I work from home, and I can sometimes get in the habit of not having other human contact for a while, which can make me feel a bit isolated and lonely. When these feelings start bubbling up, I pack my things and head to the library or a coffee shop so I can interact with other people. It makes a huge difference!
3. Am I sore? Workouts feeling hard?
I give myself permission to rest. For me, rest doesn’t mean laying around. I like to take my dog on a long walk, or go on the trail by myself and look at the river. Afterwards, I’ll make myself a hot bath filled with essential oils, and I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and listen to a true crime podcast. BLISS, I tell you.
4. Something nagging me?
I make a list of all the things I need to do. Sometimes self-care for me is taking care of a chore that is long overdue, like folding laundry, taking back those overdue library books, organizing the giant sheet mask pile, cleaning the bathroom. Honestly, is there a better feeling than coming home and having a clean, clutter-free home because you took a little time out to get your life together? It just makes me feel so happy. This is especially important around the holidays when we wanna be all cozy in our homes.
5. What does my skin look like?
Stress + sugary holiday treats can spell a disaster for my skin. If I’m getting a bit of a whitehead breakout, I bust out mandelic acid and a nourishing sheet mask, preferably with propolis or centella or snail. Pair this combo with a good book on the couch, and I’m a happy camper.
6. Do I need to move?
Exercise is my primary form of happiness. Sometimes I just need a hard cycle class or a heavy lifting session to get my happy endorphins going. Moving is SO therapeutic and so necessary for my mental well-being that I make sure to move 30 minutes a day, seven days a week, even if I just walk around the bookstore or the mall for 30 minutes.
My point is this: Self-care is what makes you feel good, whether that’s sheet masks, wine, exercise, or cleaning the kitchen. The best gift you can give yourself (and others) is making sure that you are happy and well taken care of, both mentally and physically. You deserve it!
How do you self-care to get through the holiday blues? Share with me in the comments!