Life can be crazy, especially during the holiday season. From October until New Year’s, many of us are adjusting to the new fall season, hosting guests and planning holiday menus all while doing our best to ward off the cold and flu. It’s no wonder many of us are so stressed during the holidays! This year, carve out some quality time to give back to yourself by embracing self care rituals to help overcome stress and maintain balance.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve and prioritize one’s own happiness, health and well-being, especially during periods of stress. Simply stated, self-care is anything that makes you feel happy, healthy and whole. Whether you already have an established self-care routine or are looking for some new ideas, here are seven self care rituals to help overcome stress and maintain balance, especially during the holiday season.
#1 Apply Essential Oils
Essential oils are a great way to tap into our central nervous system through aromatherapy. Each essential oil has their own unique set of properties. Some essential oils can energize and invigorate, while others can calm and relax. Some essential oils that can help soothe include bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, frankincense, lavender, eucalyptus, wild orange and ylang ylang. If you are feeling stressed, try rubbing 2-3 drops of one of these essential oils on your wrists or temples then breathe in deeply and enjoy the scent as you go about your day.
It may sound super simple, but altering the way we breathe can have profound effects on our health. The next time you feel flustered or frazzled, take two minutes to focus on your breath. Inhale for five counts, hold for five counts then exhalf for five counts. This is called box breathing and can help you relax at any given moment. There is a vast array of breathwork techniques one can choose from, but no matter which one you decide to try, consciously working on your breath will help you enjoy multiple benefits including a profound sense of calm, a clearer head and an overall sense of lightness.
#3 Clock Quality Sleep
Sleep is incredibly important to proper health, but everyday stressors have made catching zzz’s somewhat elusive. If unwinding after a long day is challenging, adopt a nighttime routine to help you relax before bed. Apply some essential oils, complete a gentle yoga flow, curl up with a good book, do some light stretching, light some candles, turn off all electronic devices or take a bubble bath. Anything you find relaxing that will help you unwind is setting you up for a restful night of quality sleep.
#4 Eat Well
Eating well may not sound like a form of self-care, but it can be. Just think how relaxing it is to come home after a long day and enjoy a nourishing meal made with high quality ingredients like farmers market vegetables paired with grass-fed beef, grassland poultry or wild-caught seafood. (Yum!) Schedule some time each week to enjoy a home cooked meal with your family (or just yourself) and if busy schedules and crazy calendars aren’t on your side, try a slow cooker recipe or host a meal prep party so you can enjoy meals all month long with ease.
Need some fall meal prep tips? Check out these six fall meal prep tips you can incorporate on your own or at your next meal prep party.
Exercise is an easy and inexpensive way to reduce anxiety and stress. Not only does physical activity improve your physical health, but it can also have a positive effect on your mood. If you don’t have a daily exercise practice, start off slow with a 20 minute walk around your neighborhood and then gradually increase your time as you feel comfortable. If you already have a structured workout plan, mix it up and try a new activity. You can try and get family members and close friends involved so you can all feel and look your best for the upcoming holidays.
#6 Express Gratitude
Focusing on what we are already grateful for shifts our perspectives to focus on more positive things in our lives. During the day, grab a journal or mentally list five things you are grateful for in that moment. A gratitude practice helps us focus on our internal state instead of focusing on our external state, which can ultimately lead to more happiness and positivity throughout the day. Your gratitude list can include something small like enjoying your favorite cup of coffee or tea or it can be as exciting as an upcoming visit with family or friends.
Similar to breathing, meditation is a great form of self-care. As with deep breathing, meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system and simultaneously relaxes the body. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes for a few moments and focusing on your breath or it can mean taking a longer set of time and closing your eyes while you focus on a specific mantra like calm, peace and surrender or some other word or phrase that resonates with you.
Other self-care rituals include, but are not limited to:
Drinking tea, coffee or another warming beverage you enjoy
Listening to music or a podcast
Repeating positive affirmations
Sitting in an infrared sauna
Showering and/or taking a luxurious bubble bath
Walking in nature
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. You can overcome stress and it’s detrimental effects. Try one, or all of these self care rituals the next time you feel overwhelmed or stressed and return to a state of balance, calm and peace.