Make self-care the centerpiece of your holiday season

Posted on Dec 19, 2019 in Ola Lokahi

The holidays can be a magical time of year filled with good tidings and joy. But they can also be stressful given the added travel, visitors, get-togethers and gift-giving. 

“From our experience with the Crisis Line, the holidays can be a sensitive and challenging time for some,” said Belinda Danielson, Crisis Line Supervisor. “It’s important to be mindful of loved ones, but make sure to take care of your needs, as well.” The Crisis Line of Hawaii is available 24/7: 832-3100 (Oahu); 1-800-753-6879 (Neighbor Islands).

This season, give yourself the gift of self-care. It’s about more than just your physical health—in fact, there are six dimensions of self-care that are all equally important, but many of these are easily overlooked during busy or stressful times. Here are some tips* in each category to help you focus on YOU:

Physical Self-Care

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep each night to feel refreshed and energetic—even during the holidays. A single day of deviance from the sleep schedule can confuse your body.
  • Eat Well. Those holiday treats can be tempting, but make sure to enjoy them in moderation. Try to eat smaller healthy meals every 3-4 hours, and remember to stay hydrated. Skipping meals can deprive your body from energy and dehydration can increase physical and mental stress.
  • Get regular exercise. Think about how to maintain your exercise routine over the holidays—it’s easy to get off track. Physical activity for 20-30 minutes each day helps reduce your body’s physical reaction to stress by relaxing muscle tension, easing negative thoughts and anxiety, and boosting your confidence.  

 Emotional Self-Care

  • Smile. Research shows that smiling can change your mood. Your brain cannot tell the difference between a real smile and a fake smile. One more reason to smile for your holiday cards!
  • Help others. There’s no better time to help someone in need? Helping others promotes gratification and can shift your attention from negative thoughts and feelings towards fulfillment and optimism.
  • Practice optimism. With a mounting gift list and holiday meal planning, it’s easy to feel a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge. Optimism is highly correlated with resilience and emotional acceptance, which can reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and anger.

Internal Self-Care

  • Positive self-view. Whether it’s about how you look in your Christmas sweater or how popular your white elephant gift is, negative self-talk has a way of creeping up on you. If you tend to put yourself down, make an effort to actively replace those thoughts with a more positive view.
  • Engage in relaxing activities. Don’t let holiday shopping or family obligations take over your life. You deserve to relax, too. Relaxation replenishes your mental resources and helps your body recover by decompressing the muscles. Try taking a calm stroll through a park, taking a bath, deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindfulness exercises.

Social Self-Care 

  • Learn how to say “no.” While this could be a year-round mantra for many of us, the holidays can  have us feeling stretched extra-thin. Spend some time thinking about your boundaries and your limits, and make a plan for how to keep them.       

Spiritual Self-Care

  • Get in touch with your values. The holidays can be a great time to explore spirituality, regardless of your religion or your beliefs. Make time for prayer or meditation. A few moments of spiritual connection each day can help improve physical health, decrease stress, and improve overall well-being.

Environmental Self-Care

  • Take care of your personal space. “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.” Having a comfortable and organized environment can make us feel less stressed and happier. It helps in reducing anxiety and making us feel more in control of our environment and life. Take some time at the end of each day to clean up so that your personal space continues to be clean and inviting.

*Adapted from: