7 Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

When the decorations show up in stores, you know another holiday season is rapidly approaching. But this joyous time of the year can also be one of the most stressful.

Family obligations, hosting duties, shopping and money concerns can take a toll on your mental and physical health and strain your relationships. Here are some tips on getting through a long holiday season without curling up into a ball on the couch with cake. 

Set Realistic Expectations and Plan Ahead

We’re constantly bombarded with images of the perfect holiday season, where everyone is well-dressed, well-behaved and not stressed out at all. The reality is that we’re usually frantically trying to find that one last present and worrying about what others think of ourholiday meal. This season, try to set expectations around what you really want to do. Feel free to turn down invites, and forget all about throwing a problem-free party. Nothing is perfect, and getting rid of those expectations can mean less stress for you and your family.

Be Sure to Budget

One of the biggest stressors during the holiday season is money. Staying on budget can reduce post-holiday stress when the bills arrive. When you’re making your list of things to buy, research online for discounted or affordable prices and remove your auto-saved credit cards from websites to avoid spontaneous spending. You should also try to capitalize on any bonuses or perks that come with your credit cards (such as your PC Financial® Mastercard®)—you may be able to convert rewards points into presents!

Start or Keep Exercising

Exercise can help put you in a good mood and help combat stress. If you’re already doing it, now is not the time to stop. If you’re not exercising, consider starting something easy that you can manage during the season.

Protect Your Sleep

Sleep helps reset your body, and a good night’s sleep can combat the stress of the holiday season. Likewise, a lack of sleep can lead to irritability, weight gain and increased stress levels. One or two late nights are fine if needed, but don’t sacrifice your regular sleeping pattern during the holidays. Also, indulge in the occasional late morning—treat yourself to sleeping in!

Stick to Your Usual Diet

Cake, pastries, alcohol, and other rich foods—the holidays are full of temptations. While it’s impossible to avoid all the delicious food (and who wants to?), sticking to your usual diet with a little wiggle room for treats will keep you from getting carried away and the inevitable regret that comes later. In other words, think about what you eat, but if you splurge now and again, don’t stress about it. It happens.

Enjoy the Now

Trying to keep up with future plans often means forgetting to enjoy the moment. Taking a few minutes for yourself can help to put the season into perspective. Enjoy the time with family or friends and worry about future events when they actually happen.

Ask for Support

No person is an island. If you’re especially prone to anxiety or have stressful situations you can’t avoid, reach out to your support system. Whether it’s friends, family or a therapist or doctor, let them know what you need from them during the season and let them help you. Don’t feel ashamed to reach out—that’s what they’re there for.

The holiday season is just that -- a season -- and it will pass. Taking the time to set boundaries for your physical and mental health can help you enjoy the time and treat it as how it was meant to be -- a holiday away from your every day.