Holiday Self-Care Tips

It’s that time of year again – time for a multitude of holiday parties, family gatherings, and work potlucks. For even the most extroverted people, this time of year can be overwhelming as you shop for the perfect present, hunt down amazing deals, wrap gifts using miles of wrapping paper, and test out multiple recipes to find the perfect item for your holiday carry-in.

And for individuals with a mental health condition, the holidays can be a hard time. Routines are disrupted. Relatives who are aware of their condition might not understand, and may make inappropriate or hurtful comments. The pressure to buy gifts may stretch budgets that are already stretched to the maximum. It’s enough to make someone decide to just curl up in bed and sleep all of December away.

But the holiday onslaught doesn’t have to be so painful. Holiday self-care is possible, and taking the time to take care of yourself can make all the difference this busy holiday season.

1. Know and respect your boundaries.

No one knows you like you know yourself. If you are getting overwhelmed and need to say “no” to a couple of holiday party invites, do your sanity a favor and turn down the invitation. If a relative is asking you to host the family gathering this year, and you know you can’t with everything else that is going on, politely tell them so. Oftentimes it is more difficult for us to set our own boundaries, than it is asking people to respect them. So take the first step in that process and be aware of your own boundaries.

2. Focus on one thing or task at a time.

Try to stay in the moment. If you’re making dessert for a work potluck, focus solely on that task. Don’t think about what you need to do after, or what you have to do tomorrow. Just focus on the good smells coming from your cooking, and maybe even sneak a bite if it feels right. Trying to consider everything at once will only make you feel overwhelmed and stressed.

3. Take care of your body.

If you feel hungry, eat something nutritious and filling, so you have the energy to keep going. Get 8 hours of sleep a night; during the busy holidays, you need those hours more than ever. Exercise when you can to keep your muscles tuned. If you feel exhausted, get some rest. The holidays are no time to push your body past its limits.

4. Take time for yourself.

During the holidays, everyone is vying for your attention. It’s okay to need some time to yourself too. Go on an errand on your own to get a breather. Spend an evening curled up on the couch and watch your favorite movie. Lock yourself in your bedroom so the kids don’t bother you and take a much-needed nap. Afterwards you’ll feel refreshed and ready to face the next holiday task.

5. Enjoy the holidays for what they are.

Often times this is easier said than done. First and foremost, the holidays are supposed to be the time of year to spend time with your family and have a lot of fun participating in various holiday activities. Unfortunately, between all the cooking, shopping, and wrapping, “fun” gets lost and the holidays just feel like a lot of work. Try to plan fun family activities that give you a break from all the work – even something as simple and easy as a cozy movie night in pajamas with popcorn and hot cocoa can be fun.


No one said self-care is easy. But taking the time to do it will make all the difference this holiday season.

Want more self-care ideas? Check these out:

30 Simple Ways to Take Care of Yourself Over the Holidays

Are You on Your List?: Eight Holiday Self-Care and Stress Management Tips