The holidays can be stressful. With planning, cooking, baking, shopping, travelling and seeing family, it can be enough to drive the most level-headed person to the brink. When things get crazy, it’s important to take some time for yourself to unwind.
But even when things aren’t that crazy or hectic, self-care is really important. Maintaining the habit of taking care of yourself can make it much easier to do so in times of stress. It’s the perfect time to think about what keeps you balanced, which could help when life gets difficult and you feel like you have little room to breathe.
Here are some tips to stay balanced no matter how crazy life feels:
Think small. A trip to the beach (especially this time of year) might sound like the most relaxing thing you can do, and the best way to de-stress. But it might not be feasible if you have work, school, responsibilities or a tight budget. What else can you do for yourself, in a minute or two and on a daily basis, that can boost your mood or make you feel grounded?
Move. There’s no doubt that moving your body is an excellent way to feel great. That’s why people love playing sports, going for runs or practicing yoga. If you only have a couple of minutes in your day, even a few simple stretches can make a difference in how you feel. Try a relaxing hatha yoga class if you have more time or bundle up and go for a long walk by yourself or with a friend.
Breathe. When you feel stress building up often the first thing that’s affected is your breathing—it gets shallower and shorter. Breathing is such an important way to calm your system. Try this in times of stress: breathe in for four counts, then breathe out for four counts. Repeat this steady breath at least 10 times. That’s just one simple exercise; there are plenty of others you can try.
Put the phone away. Constant texts, emails and social media notifications can be really stressful and the temptation to check Instagram, to Google something or just spend hours flipping through apps can be a barrier to unwinding. You can’t text someone and read a book at the same time, you can’t tweet (safely) while going for a run and you can’t sit in meditation while you’re swiping through a dating app. Challenge yourself by putting that phone away, for a little while, and you may be surprised by how good it feels.
Be kind. And as you try to unwind and relax you may struggle with the whole process—unable to settle, unable to get your mind off things or be calm—and that’s okay. Getting stressed out about not being able to stop getting stressed out certainly doesn’t help. No one’s perfect. And truthfully, being kind to yourself is very important in taking care of yourself. Being kind to other people matters, too. It takes so much energy to hold onto anger, frustration and many other negative feelings. Letting go of these feelings, as best you can, in an effort to be kind to others can feel like a weight is lifted off your shoulders and help you relax and not be so distracted by negativity.
There are so many things you can do to take care of yourself. Putting on your favourite music and dancing, taking a quick nap, hanging out with a dog, watching the clouds roll by and just simply laughing are all easy things almost anyone can do in a pinch.
Do you have any tips for self-care? Share them in the comments below!