Around the holidays it seems like stress just builds and builds right? You may LOVE Christmas (like I do), but the pace of the holidays and the demands and the gifts and the parties and the constant junk food AND ON AND ON can really start to get to you. The first thing to go is taking care of yourself. You overbook yourself (GUILTY!), you skip the gym because it’s dark and cold and there are so many things to do, you give in to all of the office holiday party food, and no matter how hard you try you always forget someone’s gift. Don’t even get me started on the Christmas cards! This year we’re doing a Happy New Year card (because I did all of the things listed above and missed the timeline – whoops).
All this to say, it’s freakin hard to take care of yourself when you’ve got a ton going on. These three quick self-care hacks are going to help you in the holiday season and beyond. And better yet, if you work these into your daily routines you’ll prevent the stress before it takes over.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Did you know that just focusing on what you’re grateful for changes your brain for the better? Just trying to look for things to be thankful for activates your brain producing serotonin and dopamine – the feel good stuffs. The more you focus on the good in your life, the easier it becomes to stay in the positive place as well. So for your brain, your health, and your happiness – let’s bring some gratitude to your day.
This is not a huge commitment – I promise! Grab a blank notebook and find a few minutes in your day to just write down 5-10 things that you’re grateful for. This can be anything from your delicious, hot cup of tea to a compliment from a coworker, to having a partner that has your back. Big or small, it creates the same effects! No more than 5 minutes here – just free write and don’t judge yourself!
For me, I grab a blank notebook and utilize Rachel Hollis’ journaling technique. I write down 5 things I’m grateful for, 10 dreams I have but I write them as if they’ve already happened, and my most important goal. I’ve been doing that all year and I’m shocked to see the dreams that have come true AND how much easier it is for me to stay in the positive, even when I’m stressed.
If you haven’t started meditating – seriously it’s time to start. I know it can feel cheesy before you get into it, but it’s the real deal. What’s funny is that I notice meditation’s effects when I’m NOT meditating. When I get out of my habit I start snapping quicker, feeling stressed more often, and have a harder time staying in that positive space.
The best part about this habit? Just 5 minutes a day is more than enough. And just like gratitude, it changes the brain for the better. You’ll reduce stress and increase your ability to focus. I have never been able to get into just freeform meditation, instead I use guided meditations through Simple Habit (an app on your phone). There are many apps out there, but this is the one I’ve liked best. I pick a series based on gratitude, or anxiety, or whatever I’m feeling that day and pick a meditation based on how much time I have. As little as 5 minutes and I’m feeling pretty darn good.
Set Priorities for the Next Day
Okay, this one is key if you’re the type with a mind that starts running as soon as you hit the pillow. Keep a journal by your bed and before you go to sleep, set your priorities for the next day. Before I lay down I write down my top three priorities for the next day. What needs to get done? What meetings do I have to prep for? Any major deadlines coming up?
I keep it to three priorities on purpose. First, this isn’t the time to just redo your never ending to-do list, that doesn’t help you get to sleep. Second, that never ending to-do list is actually de-motivating when you’re never able to finish it. So instead I focus on the top three things that need to be done AND can realistically get done. It helps me lay my head down that day knowing I moved my priorities along. This simple task each night helps me wind down from my day and know how I’m going to start the next one. I don’t have to worry as my head hits the pillow because I know what’s on deck.
So, What Now?
Try these three hacks today and comment your experience. Did it make a difference? Or did these just feel like 3 more to-dos? I think you’ll be surprised if you take the challenge and try them out! Let us know what works for you.