Amazing Self Care Ideas: 10 Ways You Can Beat Holiday Stress

I’m not sure if I’m writing this post more for me or for you. After all, I’ve been incredibly stressed and looking for an outlet for it.

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud. I offer all these pieces of wisdom, and lately, I just can’t seem to get my life together.

**This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.**

Writing can be incredibly therapeutic. That’s why I recommend journaling. There is something about writing things down that just helps you think more clearly.

Whether this post is for me, or for you, I hope we both get a lot out of it.

Holiday Stress

There is no denying: the holidays can be a stressful time. Have you ever felt that way? Like this time of year has you incredibly overwhelmed, and you just don’t know what to do about it?

10 Ways You Can Beat Holiday Stress, amazing self care ideas, self care, holidays, mental health

Why is it stressful?

We have so much on our plates during the last couple months of the year. We’ve got holiday meals to plan, gifts to purchase, and travel accommodations to make.

There’s also the chance we’re going to be exposed to toxic family members that we don’t see very often.

For these reasons (and more), it’s extra important to make sure we are getting adequate self care around the holidays.

What is self care?

Simply put, self care is any sort of activity by which we are talking care of ourselves. Sounds easy, right? Well, yes and no.

Yes, it is a very easy to understand concept. It sounds like it should be as intuitive as riding a bike after years of not doing so.

At the same time, self care can be a bit challenging. There are a few different factors to consider.

  • What sort of rest does your body actually need? (Check out this book for some really great insight on that: Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity)
  • Activities that are pleasurable vs. restorative (In my case, spending a night out with friends is pleasurable but not restorative.)
  • The root cause of needing the self care (Once you come up with your list of effective self care activities, it might be time to examine what in your life is making you stressed in the first place.)

Why it’s critical

Human beings are simultaneously strong and fragile creatures. We can withstand so much physical and emotional torment (hello, anyone who’s ever given birth!) But at the same time, stress has a way of chipping away at us.

Picture the windshield on your car. Have you ever had a tiny rock fly into it while you’re driving? The rock might seem super small, but it creates a small hole with a web of splinters around it.

What happens if another small rock flies into the same spot? Then another? And another?

At the end of that drive, your windshield is on its way to being completely irreparable.

Our psyches are a lot like that. Little stressors in our life chip away at the windshield of our mind until we can no longer see where we’re going.

That’s why it is so important to be proactive and take care of ourselves before we lose all sense of who we are.

10 amazing self care ideas

I wanted to share a bunch of simple (and practical) self care ideas that do not cost a lot of money. Believe me, I would enjoy the hell out of an elaborately planned day at the spa.

But the problems with using activities like that as self care are:

  1. It’s not a sustainable practice
  2. It’s not making any progress toward an emotionally healthier life

Self care activities need to sustainable. They need to be things you can do on a daily basis to restore your mind after a long day. They need to be financially sensible, and things that don’t require advance appointments or lots of planning.

Self care also needs to be something that puts you on a path toward better emotional health. Spa days are fun and relaxing, but they aren’t action steps you can take on a regular basis with tangible effects.

1- Unfollow/block/unfriend

This is one that can be hard to force yourself to do, but once you do, it feels so good.

We are a generation that spends an ever increasing amount of time on social media. I am not a social media hater. There is so much good that can be accomplished with it. But you have to admit, it can also be harmful to our mental health.

Everyone has that person (or people) on their friends list that makes then feel bad about themselves. Maybe their posts stir up sentiments of jealousy. Maybe they are an ex that we had a toxic relationship with.

Relationships on social media are often more complicated than necessary. Here’s a handy chart to help you decide what the appropriate step to take is:

10 Amazing Self Care Ideas to Help Beat Holiday Stress, social media, unfriending

2- Start journaling

As I mentioned earlier, journaling can have so many positive impacts on your mental health. It gives you an almost unparalleled outlet for your negative emotions.

Journaling can take so many different forms. Here are some ideas if you don’t know where to get started:

  • Free association
  • Positive affirmations
  • Your bucket list/goals list
  • A letter to a younger version of you
  • A letter to a loved one you miss

This therapy is so great because the possibilities are virtually endless. And so are the benefits!

I love this gratitude journal! It is a great tool for getting started with your journaling practice: Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal

3- Epsom salt baths

Taking regular epsom salt baths are not just soothing and relaxing, but they also have fantastic benefits for your physical self as well.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Good for skin
  • Helps calm digestion
  • Soothes sore muscles

Do you notice how when you feel better physically you tend to feel better emotionally, and vice versa?

Health needs to take a holistic approach for it to be the most effective, and so does self care.

Snag a bag of my favorite epsom salt here: Amazon Brand – Solimo Epsom Salt Soak, Magnesium Sulfate USP, 8 Pound

4- Make a list of positive affirmations

Positive affirmations get kind of a bad rep. But to be fair (and only speaking for myself), their intent is not to play the denial game. You shouldn’t feel like you need to hide your mental illness to be accepted.

But science, guys. More and more science is emerging that shows our brain’s elasticity, and the power of positive thinking.

Keep in mind, it is a practice, not a magic fix. Do not be discouraged if you spend one hour of your day trying to think positively and find you are still mentally ill. (Only a little bit of sarcasm intended there.)

It does work. You just need to make it a daily ritual— and be patient before you can expect to see results.

Here’s a great stocking stuffer— for you! Affirmators! Original Deck 50 Affirmation Cards to Help You Help Yourself – Without the Self-Helpy-Ness!

10 Ways You Can Beat Holiday Stress, amazing self care ideas, self care, holidays, mental health

5- Make a check up appointment for the coming year

Being proactive about our health is so important. One easy thing we can do is make a phone call today to schedule a January physical with your primary care physician.

I recommend making a list of the following questions:

  • How much water should I be drinking?
  • How often should I exercise?
  • What lab work does he/she recommend?
  • What are some good supplements you can take?

If you see a psychiatrist, I also recommend starting off the new year with a med check. Write down any symptoms you might be experiencing, and they can tweak your meds accordingly.

6- Get some exercise

On the subject of taking care of yourself physically, I cannot stress enough the importance or regular physical exercise.

I hear this a lot: The reason I don’t exercise is because I’m chronically ill and it’s too hard.

Listen. I get it. Your health concerns are completely valid and living with them is a challenge. When you feel sick, and have no energy, the last thing you want to do is exercise.

However, I think if you can start slow (which I firmly believe everyone can), you will begin to see gradual improvement.

If you’re a 9-5er, take a walk around the office building on your lunch break. Keep a set of light hand weights and do some bicep curls during your phone conference.

There are literally an endless amount of ways to work activity into your day. You just have to make it a priority.

Use this planner to track your activity: Detailed Fitness Journal with Built in Planner and Workout Log Book – Easily Tracks All Your Training On Our Easy Write Premium Paper

7- Try to be moderate

One of the best and worst parts of the holiday season is that it is a time of excess. This can be good in that we are surrounded by friends, generosity, delicious food, warm aromas, and late nights of laughter and merrymaking.

The downside? It is so easy to overdo it. We eat too much. We stay up way later than we ought to. If you’re like me, you sometimes drink too much champagne after the kids go to bed.

No? Just me?

It’s good to enjoy yourself, but attempting to stay moderate can only benefit you. Instead of stay up drinking all night with your rowdy friends, call it quits around midnight and make sure to drink plenty of water.

And maybe eat a salad or two to get some nutrients.

8- Go out of your comfort zone and socialize

This is one that is going to be highly dependent on your innate personality. I think for the mentally ill, surrounding ourselves with loved ones benefits us so much. It shows us how supported we are, and it helps us temporarily forget our troubles.

But like I mentioned earlier, excessive socializing (more than 2-3 hours at a time in my opinion) can be difficult for introverts. It takes time to find the balance between feeling restored and feeling “people’d out.”

Once you find that balance, try to make it a priority to socialize once a week, for whatever length of time your health allows.

9- Buy yourself a holiday gift

Yes, this one is a little frivolous, but I had to include it with the holidays around the corner. It doesn’t have to be anything super expensive, but pick out something that will really bring you joy in the coming year.

Pick out your nicest wrapping paper, shiniest bow, and attach a holiday card addressed to you— from YOU. Tell yourself what an amazing job you did this past year and all the rockstar things you will accomplish in 2020.

Show yourself a little love occasionally.

Here are my 5 favorite books of all time. Books are one of my favorite things to receive as gifts.

Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah’s Book Club)

Jane Eyre (Bantam Classics)

The Night Circus

Diary: A Novel

The Awakening (Dover Thrift Editions)

10-Practice proper hygiene

This one sounds like something I shouldn’t even have to say. But for those facing huge amounts of stress— especially when they’re already mentally ill— basic hygiene rituals seems impossible.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that you are going to look runway ready every single day but here are basic things that ought to be done daily:

  1. Do some kind of cleansing ritual. Whether it’s a full length shower with shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream— or just a two minute rinse off
  2. Wash your face
  3. Brush your teeth
  4. Comb your hair
  5. Put on deodorant

No fancy hairstyles or complicated makeup routines necessary. But sometimes getting back to basics really helps you feel better about yourself.

The benefits of good self care

Make sure you take care of yourself this holiday season. We all have a lot going on, and it’s super easy to get burned out.

Think you might be burned out but not sure? Here are some classic signs to look out for:

  • Every day is a bad day.
  • Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
  • You’re exhausted all the time.
  • The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
  • You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.

(More info on burn out)

Be proactive this time of year and remember: Sometimes you need to come first.

10 Ways You Can Beat Holiday Stress, amazing self care ideas, self care, holidays, mental health

Do you find the holidays stressful? What self care strategies do you put into place?

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82 thoughts on “Amazing Self Care Ideas: 10 Ways You Can Beat Holiday Stress”

  1. i love these. my main tip is to only do the things i enjoy. i do NOT enjoy gingerbread houses. i do NOT enjoy putting up lights. i DO enjoy making cinnamon bread. i DO enjoy wrapping gifts, etc. it’s helped me enjoy the holidays so much!

    1. Hey Amanda, that’s a great tip! It’s so weird how we feel this pressure to do certain things, but if we hate doing it, it’s not worth it. My MIL loves doing gingerbread houses with the little ones in the family, and I think it’s always a shit show LOL. Thanks for reading!

  2. I love your ideas. As a parent, we all know that our kids have a certain expectations for Christmas. Last year was hard for me because I had a very limited budget to get the kids something. Not sure what will happen this year. But holiday stress can be a real problem if you don’t take time out to care for you.

    1. Hey there, it can be really hard! As long as you treasure time together, I’m sure they will enjoy it 🙂 Take care, and thanks for reading!

  3. Thanks for these reminders. It never occurred to me that such a simple thing like removing people/friends that no longer spark joy in my life is actually a way to practice self-care. So thank you!

    1. Hey Louisa, sometimes you need to go Marie Kondo on your social circle. Even if you stay from but just unfollow them on social media. Thanks for reading!

  4. I once had a bird hit my side mirror. Broke it off. It was a new car. I thought there was an explosion. It was uber stressful. But, how do you disconnect from toxic relatives? Now that is stressful.

    1. Hey Lois, I have some of those, and what helps for me is we just can’t talk about certain topics and I limit my exposure to them. Good luck, and thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Lynndee, I think so too. Sometimes you even really like the people, but all they post is incendiary news headlines, and it’s too much! Thanks for reading!

  5. Some excellent ideas here love! I always try and treat myself to something, even if it’s something small like a coffee while in work. I know it doesn’t seem like much but thats a boring self-care idea that I use at least once a week, especially when I’m feeling sluggish.

    1. Hey Nyx, I think that’s great! I love just good old fashioned peace and quiet LOL. That does the trick for me these days. Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Molly, I think so too. We’re under this pressure to love every second of the holidays, but that’s just not always the case. Thanks for reading!

  6. Holidays can be definitely stressful. Everyone is home and I get no time for my work or for myself. I really crave for a self care roitine in this stressful period.

    1. Hey Supriya, the busyness can be really stressful! You’re always running around all over the place. I hear ya. Take care this year, and thanks for reading!

  7. Holidays can really be stressful. Thank you for sharing these great tips, I am going to really try to take care of myself this year.

    1. Hey Sara, definitely give it a try. You deserve it! You are a human being before you are any other role in your life, and need the care. Thanks for reading!

  8. Thanks for this great list! Self-care is really important to me. I’ve started journaling, practising affirmations daily, and also taking bath salts. There has been so much more positivity in my life since!

    1. Hey Terri, that would be a great gift. Being a mom to little ones is so tough these days, so I’m sure they would appreciate that. Thanks for reading!

  9. Oh my God, you read my mind! I hate the holidays due to stress and high expectations your advice will help me going through it this year. Thank you!

    1. Hey Adriana, so glad you found the post helpful. I hope the tips help, and you can have a great holiday season. Thanks for reading!

  10. I love how practical these tips are! I totally agree with you – a full-on spa day would be the dream, but it’s not something that fits in as everyday self-care, for sure. We need things we can fit into our busy lives and not break the bank. Thanks for sharing this! It’s getting on for that time of year again, so it’s useful to think about it in advance =)

  11. I had to unfollow some people. Their content was fine. They were prejudice and I couldn’t deal with it. I feel less stressful now that I am not following them. Thanks for the tips.

    1. Hey Lanae, I’ve had to do the same thing recently. If seeing their posts weighs heavily on my heart, they aren’t something I need to allow to live rent free in my mind. Thanks for reading!

  12. Pam Wattenbarger

    I’ve unfollowed a ton of people whose sole purpose on Facebook seems to be to argue with people. It feels freeing!

    1. Hey Pam, I’ve been going on a “hide from my newsfeed”/unfollow spree, and it is the best ever. There are some people that I love very much, but I just CAN’T with their posts. It happens. Gotta take care of you. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  13. I love this post. And I totally agree, writing is one of the most therapeutic things you can do to relieve stress. I also live by routines, especially now that I have a baby – prioritising the self can be a huge struggle during holiday season and it’s so good to read how okay that really is!

    1. Hey Amanda, so glad you liked it! It’s not just okay, it’s necessary! It’s hard to accept that especially once you have kids, but moms need it so much. Take care and thanks for reading!

  14. Really great post. I particularly like that you said this post may be for yourself as much as the rest of us! I often feel that way about my posts. I need to get my thoughts out my head and if anyone else finds it helpful then it’s a bonus! Blogging can definitely be self-care for me and I’m determined to keep doing it over the festive period. I’m also a big fan of epsom salts I make it a treat after I’ve done a workout as I know exercise is integral to my overall wellbeing and will boost my mood which is key when you’re around so many people who could wind you up!!!

  15. I love this post and all of your advice! The holiday season can be so stressful and it’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by the season.

    Kate |

  16. This is a amazing post Jen! The first point is my favourite! I can’t imagine how awful my Twitter timeline would look like if I didn’t block people. There’s so much hate out there and it’s important to cut yourself from it. I also love the one about making a list of positive affirmations. It’s very underrated but it feels so good!

    Taiwo xx

  17. These are all great ideas for self care. My top ones are journaling and exercise for sure. It’s amazing what it can do for your health and state of mind!

  18. These are very practical self care ideas. I am always willing to unfollow accounts or people that don’t bring any value to me, and I always feel better after a hot shower!

  19. Love these self-care ideas, journalling is something I have been doing since past couple of years while I am new to affirmations but these have improved my life so much. Speaking of holiday stress it’s very real and draining mentally and physically. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Some things I’m definitely going to begin in 2020 – journalling and being consistent with positive affirmations. I love bath salts, but I don’t like the fact that they don’t hide your wobbly bits like bubbles do….!

  21. I love this list! I really like the idea of buying yourself a holiday gift and writing in my journal in an evening routine I adore.
    Thank you for the great tips!

  22. Thank you for this – didn’t realise how much I needed some extra self-care until I read your post! We get busy… feel like a fraud… and try to push through. Sometimes the answer is to stop and rest! Thank you!

  23. I love these tips. Spring cleaning out digital life, like blocking etc, really helps with our mental health. I’ve done it, and I will do it again come Jan. In fact I’m doing a pinterest clear out as well just to keep things organised both in my mind and on my computer screen.

    Excellent advice here Jen.

  24. Amazing post! Love reading anything to do with self-care. Especially glad you mentioned some of the common issues with a lot of common self-care suggestions, and what factors to consider. That really resonated with me. Self-care is a topic I write about a lot, and keep coming back to.

    Epsom salts are SO underrated! Absolutely a savior for people with aches and pains.

    Also glad to see Jane Eyre recommended, one of my favorites too! I like the sound of the Night circus so I’m going to add that to my GoodReads to-read list!

    Really great post, thank you for sharing!

    Kenna, xxx

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