7 tips to care for yourself during the holidays

We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed and tired.

– Rachel Jonat

Do you often see the holidays approaching fast and feel overwhelmed, dreading the festivities? 

Most of us pack our calendars full of activities, using this precious time off to catch up with friends and relatives—which can feel good, but can also be very draining. And although Christmas comes around at the same time each year, we often end up squeezed for time, rushing to pick up last-minute gifts or food. It doesn’t have to be this way, I promise. 

If any of this sounds familiar, you might want to keep reading and learn my simple tips for a holiday season that feels good this year.

Tip #1: make a list of what matters the most

These past weeks, I’ve been learning a lot about my experience of time in a training called Time Genius. One of the things that really stuck with me is Marie Forleo’s saying: “There is always time for what’s most important.”

So I felt that with the holidays coming up, it might be smart to make a short list of what matters the most, add it to my calendar and make sure to leave the rest blank to enjoy some downtime, too. 

Of course, this means that I won’t get to see all of my loved ones during the holidays, but I’ll see a few important people and I’ll have the rest of 2023 to catch up with other friends and family, without rushing to squeeze it all in out of principle. 

In my opinion, in order to stay sane and fully enjoy the holiday season, this list should include no more than 5 items or events. This way, if you have 15 days off, you get 2 days of rest per 1 day of festivities—which seems like a healthy ratio.

If you don’t have the luxury of having 2 weeks off, you might want to make a shorter list of priorities to make sure you enjoy some well-deserved time off, too!

Tip #2: schedule time to rest

This brings me to tip no2: schedule time to rest. If you don’t mark this in your calendar and make it a priority, I’m pretty sure it will come last and your days will quickly fill up with too many things to do or people to see! If you feel that you need a few days to self-care and rest, pencil them in now!!! I promise you’ll be grateful that you did.

Tip #3: plan your gifts ahead

Do you have some gift giving to do this year? If so, set a date in your calendar to get all your shopping done in one session, having a clear plan in mind before you set out to buy anything. Personally, I hardly buy anything aside for one gift for each of my kids, stocking stuffers and small surprises for their shared advent calendar, which I often buy second-hand.

I make sure to purchase all of these before the end of November, so my mental load is freed up to think about food and the likes as the festivities approach.

If you need a few gift ideas, be sure to check out my article featuring 7 unique and eco-friendly gift ideas for your loved ones!

Tip #4: mind your eating and drinking habits

For many of us, the holidays end up being a time for overeating and drinking too much … and that is the perfect recipe to end up feeling exhausted and sick by the time January comes around. 

Without depriving yourself, remember to be kind to your body. Splurge on holiday goodies and enjoy a drink with loved ones, but perhaps, pay attention to the quantities you indulge in. Is a second serving necessary or are you already full? Will you regret having a second drink tomorrow morning? Listen to that little voice in the back of your mind and don’t give in to peer pressure—you know what’s best for you!

Tip #5: don’t carry it all on your shoulders

If you are having guests over this year, don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Aspire to do things well—not perfectly—and ask for help if you need it.  

You could for instance :

  • Ask each of your guests to bring something to eat
  • Hire a house cleaner
  • Get your shopping done using Instacart
  • Hire a caterer
  • Suggest drinks & finger food rather than a four-course meal

Tip #6: come up with a project

Instead of scrolling on social media out of exhaustion between back-to-back Christmas parties, think of a way to spend your free time making yourself feel good and turn it into a fun project! 

This could include:

  • Reading a book
  • Doing a puzzle
  • Creating a series of watercolours
  • Walking outdoors 1 hour every day
  • Knitting a scarf
  • Sorting through a box of memories
  • Decluttering a closet
  • Creating a photo album
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Journaling or writing

Or anything else that makes you feel fulfilled, relaxes you and is all about YOU!

Tip #7: dare to say NO

During the holidays, many of us do things out of obligation. What if this year, you decided NOT to do guilt or obligations? 

Put yourself first and say NO to the things you genuinely don’t feel like doing, or realize you could do later during the year without feeling overwhelmed. If you’d rather stay home in your flannel pajamas, then do that! Don’t make excuses. No need to explain why you’re saying no and engage in a discussion about it. Just thank the person for the invitation and politely decline! I bet you’ll be surprised at how easy that can be.

My holiday plans

On my part, I’ll be hosting or attending a small list of events: one dinner with friends at the beginning of December and drinks with family from abroad on the 21st. We’ll also be joining my mom’s family for Christmas dinner on the 25th.

In terms of gift giving, we like to keep things simple. Aside from the few small things we get our kids, my husband and I don’t exchange gifts and with our extended family and friends, we’ve decided to avoid overdoing it and will focus on enjoying the time we share.

I’ll be skipping festivities for my fortieth birthday on the 26th—because I would honestly be adding a party to the mix to please others, while I genuinely prefer one on ones or small gatherings to large parties. Yep, I am a total introvert and would much rather have a quiet evening at home with my husband and kids.

Then, we’ll be driving up north to enjoy 10 days of rest on a tiny island with my mother in law, where I plan to read a book and play piano, write, draw, take a walk every day to look at the water—and rest as much as I can. Which means, I plan to be in top shape to kick off 2023!

Will you make joyful memories, too?

Holiday traditions and festivities should leave you feeling joyful. This year, I encourage you to focus on making sure your heart (not your stomach), is full! And be sure to make time to care for yourself, so you are ready to kick off a new year energized, rested and happy.

What are your holiday plans? Let me know how you plan to simplify and care for yourself this year! 

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