Winter is just about here. Along with the colder weather, stress related to end-of-year work goals, events and parties to attend, travel, tight budgets, and impending guests can overwhelm the best of us. Entrepreneurs, artists, healers, and visionaries like you have a zillion obligations and responsibilities, and it’s very easy to concentrate solely on living up to external expectations and meeting others’ needs. The trouble is, this narrow focus often leads to exhaustion, illness, and burn out.
It is so important to remember to take care of yourself during this season so that not only can you get through it unscathed, but also so you can truly delight in the holidays. Self-care should always be on your calendar and be part of your soul-centered project!
Here are my favorite methods of self-care that will have you happy and thriving through the end of the year and beyond!
- Get Enough Sleep. This can’t be emphasized enough. The fact is, most of us never get enough sleep to start with, but with all the added stress around the holidays, sleep is usually the first casualty. Without proper rest, you’ll be too tired to fully participate in or enjoy all the activities you’ve got planned. And studies show that lack of sleep causes adrenal fatigue, which can lead to weight gain and mood swings. So make getting to bed on time a priority!
- Set Realistic, Unrestrictive Boundaries Around Eating. During the holiday season, it’s likely you’ll be around foods and drinks you don’t normally consume the rest of the year, and most of them are not the healthiest of treats! Instead of struggling (sometimes with much difficulty!) to maintain your usual diet, my suggestion is you cut yourself some slack. But to ensure you don’t wind up feeling bloated, logy, and sick, set some limits for yourself. Perhaps it’s okay to allow yourself dessert, but your boundary is you know there is no way you’ll go back for a second helping. Or, perhaps, you allow yourself to eat whatever you want on a holiday dinner, but beforehand, plan a cleansing diet for the following day. Permit yourself to enjoy the holiday and all the scrumptious food it can bring…just make sure you set limits and boundaries for yourself that will allow you to feel good while enjoying it all.
- Travel Smart. Travel can wear you down and expose you to lots of germs. To ward off any nasty bugs that might waylay you, make sure you wash your hands frequently, avoid salty or fatty plane snacks, and drink plenty of water. Drinking water before, during, and after a flight will ensure you’re not dehydrated. While flying, try to stretch in your seat and move your body as much as you can to prevent muscle stiffness and cramping. You can remove your shoes, curl your toes and release them; you can do ankle circles both clockwise and counterclockwise; you can curl your shoulders forward to stretch your upper back and then press your shoulders back to stretch your upper chest. I also recommend taking any supplements that are appropriate for you; personally I take a multi-vitamin, zinc and extra vitamin C.
- Remember to Breathe. When you’re frantically trying to wrap everything up for the year – your business obligations, travel plans, shopping, cooking, preparing for guests, organizing gatherings, etc. – you can get so busy you literally forget to breathe sometimes. Consciously focusing on your breath can be a wonderful way to regain a sense of grounding and balance. You can focus on your breath in any situation: standing in line at the grocery store, in conversations with others, even at a party. Just take 5 seconds to mindfully bring oxygen into your body, and to release any stress or toxins when you exhale. Those 5 seconds can make a tremendous difference in your mood.
- Create Time for Authentic Connection. With so much to do and so many people to see, it’s easy to fill your plate with conversations that don’t go deep enough to really recharge you or replenish your human need for connection. Make time to have a heart-to-heart talk with a dear friend or beloved aunt. Set aside an hour to help one of the kids in your life with a project they’re working on or play a game with them. The more authentically you are connected to people, the more love and support you will feel.
- Don’t Leave Yourself Out. Entrepreneurs and business owners, I’m especially looking at you. Even though your soul-centered project needs your love and attention no less at this time of year, it’s essential for your health and comfort to get away from it all a little bit, too. With all the activity surrounding all of us, it’s easy to get caught up in it all and end up depleted. Take even just 15-30 minutes every day for yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea and curl up with a book. Take a walk. Get a manicure. Write in your journal. This is also a great time to breathe!
- Give Thanks. It IS that time of year, right? What better occasion than the holidays to sit down and truly take stock of all the wonderful things in your life: the people, the material objects, your own talents and areas of brilliance, your pets, your accomplishments and successes. Make a list and keep it handy throughout the season so that you can refer to it whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or burned out.
This can be a wonderful time of the year, so make sure that you are able to fully enjoy it by taking good care of yourself. Be gentle with yourself and those around you. When you are well-rested and healthy, it is so much easier to complete all your tasks, make progress on your soul-centered project, and have energy left over for plenty of fun!