December is usually one of the busiest months of the year for people. Between the holidays, parties, family gatherings, shopping for presents, and a mile-long to-do list, it can be difficult to find time to relax. While 2020 has brought us a whole other set of circumstances to contend with, the holiday season is still one where we tend to focus on others and forgo our own needs. It is more important than ever to take time for yourself so you can feel refreshed and energized.
Why do this? Why bother with self-care? It can feel daunting to have yet another thing to add to the to-do list. These strategies will pay you back tenfold. A little time investment will reap rewards such as a better mood, improved energy, and increased life satisfaction.
Strategies to try: the words “self-care” can inspire everything from a shudder of fear to relief that it is becoming more socially acceptable to take time for oneself. Let’s take self-care from a nice idea in theory to practical steps you can take in your daily life. Set the bar low. No, lower. Lower. It is important to do something rather than stopping before you even start because it feels too overwhelming. Here are three simple suggestions for taking care of yourself this holiday season and beyond.
- Breathe. Feeling stressed? Stop what you’re doing and take 5 deep breaths. Inhale slowly through your nose down into your diaphragm. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Deep breathing delivers almost instantaneous calm to the nervous system. Bonus points for engaging your voice during your exhale so you sigh out the stress. Triple bonus points if people in the vicinity give you funny looks for your dramatic exhaling.
- Move. Many people are sedentary during the day. It is easy to get wrapped up in work or binge–watching episodes of The Crown on Netflix. If you notice you have become one with your chair, get up and move for one minute. Walk around the room, jog in place, or practice your best Rockette-style leg kicks. You’ll feel more energized than before.
- Play. What do you enjoy doing? What did you enjoy most as a kid? Bring that activity into your adult life. Take one minute to play. Draw, dance, sing, run, work on a puzzle, play with your pet- the sky’s the limit. You’ll be more creative and will return to your day feeling refreshed.
Self-care does not need to be extravagant, expensive, or time-consuming. You can use the above tips or do anything you enjoy that lifts you up and makes you feel happy. The benefits go beyond just feeling good. Some of the most creative minds in history credit their successes to spending regular time daydreaming, playing, and relaxing.
“Play is the highest form of research” ~Albert Einstein
Self-care will benefit all areas of your life. It is up to you to prioritize taking a bit of time from your day to do something just for yourself. What step will you take today?