Happy Hanukkah, and welcome to the Christmas Season! Whatever you may celebrate, this time of the year can bring a mix of joy, relaxation, and stress.
For many of us, the holiday season involves added responsibilities, travel, and fraught family dynamics. To make things worse, the airbrushed media images of holiday cheer can make our realities seem, well, lacking.
Why is self care important during the holidays?
On top of the usual holiday stress, the last 18 months have been harder than most because of the COVID pandemic.
Especially this year, we could all use some self care! To make the most of holiday activities and time with family and friends, remember that you need to take care of yourself so you are physically, mentally, and emotionally in a good spot.
Our 25 days of self care during the holidays
To help you get ready for the season, we’ve compiled a list of 25 self care activities you can do during the holidays.
Follow along on Instagram (@MyAdaRose), and feel free to adapt them however works best for you. Some (family boundaries) may be tough to do, while others (coffee treat!) provide immediate gratification. Both can be good for you. So let’s get started!
December 1: Get your self care on the calendar! December 1st is a perfect time to block off some self care time for the rest of the month. Whether it’s a regularly-scheduled break from work, a yoga class, or a meetup with friends, block it off so you don’t schedule other things during this time.
December 2: Color-coordinate your calendar. Since we're talking about calendars, a woman in our community considers color-coding her Google calendar "self care." Colors make it easy to see at a glance which blocks of activities are coming up. Examples: blue is for work, green is for errands, orange is for fun stuff.
December 3: Splurge on a fancy coffee. Who couldn’t use a little warmth and a pick-me-up in the dark days of winter? Especially with whipped cream on top. There are over 37,000 coffee stores in the US, so maybe try a new local spot and support a small business at the same time?
December 4: Dance and just jam for 10 minutes. Playing your favorite music makes almost everything more fun. I’ll dance to anything from Can I Kick it? by A Tribe Called Quest to Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa.
December 5: Set boundaries with a family member. I know this one isn’t fun, but it’s critical for your mental health. Maybe it’s stepping out of a heated discussion about politics with your uncle, or asking the kids to do more around the house. First, acknowledge that your needs are important, and then give yourself permission to be firm but kind in expressing and protecting yourself physically and emotionally.
December 6: Take a relaxing bubble bath. A hot bubble bath can relax your muscles, clear your mind, and make your skin glow. Add a bath bomb, epsom salts, or a natural scent like lavender. Now play some music, and make sure that dish of berries (or chocolate) is within reach!
December 7: Schedule a massage. Just knowing a massage is on your calendar can make it easier to push through stressful times. Need some peace and quiet? Just relax and appreciate that someone else is taking care of you for a change.
December 8: Buy yourself a treat. Shoes? Sunglasses? A cake pop? You decide on the perfect gift… go ahead and treat yo self!
December 9: Meditate or practice mindfulness. Self care is about your mental or spiritual side as well as taking care of your body. Try an app like Headspace, Calm, or Noom (which also focuses on weight loss) to practice breathing exercises and incorporate mindful moments into your day.
December 10: Drink enough water. It’s easy to forget, unless you keep a bottle with you. Despite trying a bunch of high tech options, I still really like my teal plastic CamelBak (thanks to Elena from Intersystems!)
December 11: Watch a movie. How about a holiday movie, like Home Alone, Elf, or How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Then there’s the classic It’s a Wonderful Life. What’s your favorite?
December 12: Write down 10 things you are grateful for. The health benefits of gratitude have been well documented. A few years ago the 5 Minute Journal helped me get through a particularly rough patch in life... I would totally recommend it.
December 13: Make sure you get 8 hours of sleep. I get up early to exercise, which means getting to bed early, too. Unfortunately, late evenings are exactly when my kids want to engage in conversation or show me funny TikTok videos. It’s a balance. But sleep is a Big Deal.
December 14: Unplug for one day. The laptop. The tablet. The TV, and of course, the phone. Unplug them all. Focus exclusively on the people and places around you instead.
December 15: Exercise in a way you enjoy. I know, exercise can be tough. Part of the trick is to make it as much fun as possible. Running up hills in the morning when it’s cold and dark is painful. But it can also be fun if you're doing it with a friend.
December 16: Say “no” in a productive way. I’m all for helping people, but you also need to know your limits, especially when you risk burning yourself out. It’s OK to say no kindly but firmly. Perspective: "I’m not saying no to you, I’m saying yes to me."
December 17: Paint or color. Expressing creativity through art is always soothing for me. Creating art together can also be a low key way to bond with someone else. Get some markers, paints, glitter, and glue on hand and you’re halfway there.
December 19: Eat a good breakfast. OK, I’m not just talking about pancakes or cereal. It’s got to be both good and good for you—get some protein and fat in there to help you power through your day. How about bacon and eggs, or avocado toast?
December 20: Read a book. I tend to have several going at once. Right now they include Naturally Tan, a memoir by Tan France (of Queer Eye fame), and The Emergence of Charismatic Business Leadership by my mentor and former boss Richard Tedlow.
December 21: Get off social media for one day. This is less radical than the full unplugging, but with some of the same effect. Harder than you thought, right?
December 22: Wake up and watch the sunrise. Where I live in Washington DC that’s not too hard these days. Sunrise is at about 7:00 AM. But make a point of intentionally checking it out.
December 23: Listen to an audiobook or podcast. So many options here. And you can listen while you’re commuting or unloading the dishwasher. A few podcasts I like include How I Built This with Guy Raz and We Can do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle.
December 24: Appreciate nature. Maybe you live near mountains or the ocean. Even in the middle of a city you can step outside to spend time drinking in the sky, feeling the breeze, and taking in the colors of nature.
December 25: Tell someone you love them. If you celebrate Christmas, this is a big day. One of the best gifts you can give is telling someone you love them. And to continue the spirit of self care, remind yourself that you love YOU, too.
Download and print the calendar below and hang it up in your office, on your refrigerator, or any other convenient location where you’ll see it often. The AdaRose team will be working through all 25 of these self care activities this holiday season. Will you join us?