My Top 5 Tips for a Calm and Self-Compassionate Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is two weeks from tomorrow, so in my book that means Holiday Season has begun! I’m not singing Christmas carols just yet (I’m a firm believer in Christmas AFTER Thanksgiving, thank you very much!) but I am carefully preparing for the busy days ahead. Gift lists, coordinating safe get-togethers with family and friends, planning meals, lots of extra cooking and cleaning… it can be a joyful affair or a panic-inducing one, depending on your point of view. Not to mention that the uncertainty of COVID-19 is still with us this year, along with looming supply chain issues and delivery delays.  

All things considered, self-care probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list. But I’m here to tell you to put it there! Even if it’s just a cup of tea and some silent time alone when you wake up in the morning. Or 5 deep, intentional breaths before you step out of your car to do errands. These little things really do add up, helping you bring awareness and calm to situations where you might otherwise blow a fuse. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: mental health is critical to your well-being, especially during these busy and emotional times of year! Don’t overestimate your capacity to just “deal with it.” Instead, why not give yourself the gift of understanding and honoring your own needs? 

Here are my Top 5 Tips for a Calm and Self-Compassionate Holiday Season!

  1. Plan and organize. I’m a list maker! I keep lists on my phone's Notes app, or post them on my refrigerator at work where I can easily see what needs my attention today, tomorrow, and next week. The trick is not to make a never-ending list that you can’t possibly complete. A good tactic is first to make a master list of all the thing you want to get done before Thanksgiving, for example, then rank those things from most to least important. Then break your master list down into more manageable chunks that can be done day-to-day. For this part, try underestimating yourself at first. This will give you a more accurate idea of what you can realistically accomplish in a day. If you find that you can take on more, great! If not, that's perfectly fine too.

  2. Exercise. This is the best antidepressant I know of! Without fail, exercise clears my mind and boosts my mood. If I'm getting wrapped up in a problem, or feeling overwhelmed, just 30 minutes of blood-pumping exercise can help me see things from a new perspective. It also helps me stay connected with friends who join me on my runs, in yoga classes, and on stadium steps. Getting some kind of exercise during the day also helps me to sleep deeper at night.

  3. Eat nourishing meals. No matter how busy you are, carve out enough time to prepare at least one whole food, plant-based meal a day. As the days get shorter and colder, a hot meal in the morning is especially satisfying and great for sustained energy. Then, when the opportunity to splurge on something rich or sweet comes along, indulge without guilt. It’s about finding balance while still enjoying the pleasures in life!

  4. Schedule self care activities into your week. Are you going to follow Tip #1 and make a list? Then don't forget to add a self care practice to the top of it! Lately I'm loving my weekly dry brush routine, which invigorates my lymphatic system and exfoliates my skin. An at-home facial steam is also very soothing when I’m feeling tired or anxious. Add a chamomile teabag to the hot water for its calming, pore-cleansing effects! Maybe condition your hair and scalp with moisturizing coconut oil while you steam your face. (Stay tuned for Nüssli118°’s December blog post on DYI Skincare ideas! These makes excellent gifts too! Bath bombs, facial scrubs, body butters…)

    If you're really pressed for time, I suggest you schedule 15 minutes of quiet time for yourself in the morning. Breath deeply, reflect and think about the things you appreciate the most. Everyone has the time and resources for that!

  5. Random acts of kindness. Nothing brings greater joy to others and myself then a spontaneous, genuinely kind act. Compliment someone on their nice outfit. Share a recipe with a friend. Hold the door open for the next person to walk through. Text a family member just to say hi and how are you? Make eye contact and smile at the employee behind the cash register. You never know how that one, small act can touch another's heart! And yours will most definitely feel lighter.