Posted on December 7, 2018

When the Holiday Blues Hit, Self-Care Is Key — But It’s Not One Size Fits All

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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.

 

holiday blues
istock/Rasulovs

 

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.

 

holiday blues
Unsplash/Jason Leung

 

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!

 

holiday blues
Unsplash/Andrew Neel

 

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.

 

holiday blues

 

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.

 

 

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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.

 

sheet mask and book holiday blues
istock/petrunjela

 

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.

 

workout resolutions holiday blues
istock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

 

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!

 

Discussion

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Self care for me as of late would be decluttering my room. Sorting through my clothes to donate what I don't wear anymore and organizing the clothes in my dresser. Taking a moment to make my bed in the morning helps set a nice start to my day as well. That has been my main go to besides my skincare routine.

Self care this season has been Great British Bake-off binges, self administered gua sha facials, taking better care of my hands, and being OK with not wanting to Do All the Things. I'm normally an extrovert, but this has been a difficult year, and I've had to wrestle with the fact that I actually do just want to be home with the cats sometimes.

For me, self care really just means moving away from stressful and everyday responsibilities. A night of gaming, face masks and bath bomb really help with destressing and making sure that my body/skin is relaxed. I know there recently have been nights that I was unable to sleep due to finals and work, but catching up on sleep slowly, using proper skin treatment for calming/cooling, just really regulating my pace is what I do to self care!

Some ways I self care is through skincare- really taking time in my routine and doing a mask while watching light-hearted shows (like comedy or baby videos); painting my nails; calligraphy; painting; photography; cooking a nice or healthy meal; baking; watching movies; looking up motivational quotes; singing in the shower; drinking nice cocktails; and gratitude journaling. Even though it’s called self-care I also feel I don’t have to be by myself to care for my needs- so I also love to reach out to my friends or loved ones to have long talks over food or at a quiet place... Read more

Wow, your list is like self-care 101. I love that! I'm going to include watching fun but time-suck videos a form of self-care from now on and not feel guilty about it!

My favorite ways of self-care is to put on a face mask and watch some Korean dramas as a way to relax (:

My favorite ways of self-care is doing yoga and meditation, listening music, go to the masajist, reading a book, eat healthy food, and drink lots of water. Also, I love organize my bedroom and closeth, it's so relaxing for me.

I loooove organizing my closet, too! And my beauty closet as well! That is the best form of self-care for me. It feels so cathartic and relaxing.

I wish I had more time to go to my facialist. That was the ultimate de-stressor for me.

I love listening some music and drawing to relax. I enjoy walking in the nature or watching some good movies too ^.^

Oooo drawing. The adult coloring books seem to be similar to that. They are really good ways to just chill out.

OOOH drawing! I love to color. It's such a stress reliever

True, and I really like water color. It is such a peaceful activity

I love the bath-wine-true crime podcast self-care! I will need to try this. Just because I am always looking for other true crime podcasts - what do you listen to?

The Serial podcasts, S-town, and Ear Hustle are so fascinating. The latter is produced inside San Quentin and gives you a crazy insightful look into how prison really is like. The inmate co-host is so good!

I love Serial and S-Town! I haven't listed to Ear Hustle - sounds fascinating!

I LOOOOOVE the Crimetown podcast. Both seasons are great. I also loved Dear John and Serial!

Nice! I haven't heard of Crimetown!! I'm going to go look it up now :)

I must say, I wish I found joy in exercising! It's a total struggle for me - but I force myself to do it because I know it'll be good for my body in the long run.

In terms of self care, I also try to address exactly what my body is telling me I need. If I've reached my peak amount of people time, I do try to say no to plans without feeling too guilty - especially if it's something like coworkers that I end up seeing every day.

I'm with you. I have to talk myself into exercising and I can't wait for it to be over, even though I know it's good for me.

SO relatable! Yes! I adore going to workout classes like Step Aerobic and lighter ones like Pilates and Yoga, but it's such an immense effort to actually bring myself to show up to those classes. When I'm there and in class, I'm all for it and I feel motivated to go every day, but once it's time to leave the house to go to class again, it's as if my entire body is straining in the opposite direction, so way too often I end up doing nothing at all instead of going.

That's my biggest impediment to exercising — actually getting dressed and leaving the house and getting to class. I'd much rather just do it at home on a treadmill or something. These days, I've been forcing myself to walk up 5 flights of stairs when I get home — it's better than nothing, and walking up in heels and with all my work stuff is no joke!

I know this sounds crazy, but exercise is so important (to me), that I view it as a habit. I'm rarely "motivated" to do much or anything, ever, but exercise is like brushing my teeth. I just do it everyday...because like brushing your teeth, it's necessary for me.