9 Reasons to Spend Time With Yourself
How to Make Time for Yourself During the Holidays
The holiday season is a time filled with joy, charity, and togetherness. Everyone is busy attending family gatherings and parties, cooking and baking, and shopping for gifts. In your hurry to attend this event or buy that present, it’s easy to forget one important aspect of the equation: yourself. Giving is a terrific concept, but you aren’t any good to loved ones or strangers if your own cup is empty. By identifying simply ways to sneak in me-time, coming up with ideas to have fun or relax, and coping with holiday stress you can practice self-care and have a joyous holiday season.
Finding Time to Yourself
Wake up early.Maybe you’re one of those people who drags out of bed after hitting the snooze button four times. Setting an intention to take 30 minutes to an hour for yourself when you rise can be just the motivation you need to roll out of bed at the first sound of the alarm.
- To ensure that you actually get out of bed, choose an activity that you find rewarding or rejuvenating. Make it anything you want. Consider doing yoga, meditating, making a nice wholesome breakfast, or turning on your DVR to watch the episode you missed of your favorite TV show. Using morning time for something like exercise, practicing gratitude, or affirmation journaling can also set the tone for a positive day.
- If waking up early is a chore, aim to get up 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach your goal time. Increase your chances of being successful by getting in bed 15 minutes earlier, too. Doing this not only gives you time to yourself, but you will also feel nourished and in a better mood to go about your daily activities.
Drive to events alone.If you are bogged down running errands or attending events, opt to drive solo. While this doesn’t change your schedule, it does give you several minutes to catch your breath before reentering a demanding social situation.
- Turn on the radio full blast. Refresh your lipstick or hairstyle. Pray. Take deep breaths. Do whatever you need to do to revive and recollect yourself as you move between stressful holiday activities.
Block out time on your calendar.Do you find yourself complaining each week because you never seem to have any time to do things you want to do? Plan them. During the busy holiday season, you can’t expect a window of free-time to magically open up. You have to make it.
- Pencil a candlelight dinner with your partner, a movie night, or a massage into your calendar at the start of the week. Don’t get into the habit of pushing these back because then you will never end up doing them. Make these activities priorities in your schedule.
Learn to say “no.”If you have trouble turning down requests or obligations shoved on your plate by others, you may need to learn how to speak up and use your voice. Giving in to other's demands can lead to you having no room in your schedule for yourself. Start carefully evaluating what you say "yes" to in order to make more time for you.
- If other people’s demands start to encroach on your me-time, say “I’m so sorry, but my calendar is all booked up for the week. Next time, can you give me advanced notice?”
- If saying no makes you uncomfortable, have a friend practice with you so that you can become more comfortable with saying no in various ways, even when pushed.
Delegate or drop tasks you don’t want.Getting more time for yourself during the holidays could be a matter of simplifying. Is your daily and weekly calendar filled to capacity with various obligations that bring little joy or meaning to your life? It may be time to reevaluate.
- Look at your planner or calendar and jot down all the obligations you have in a week beyond the necessities like work or school. Go through each activity and consider if it’s something you truly enjoy doing. If not, see if you can pass it off to a friend, family member, or coworker—or, completely get rid of it altogether.Keep in mind that sometimes you have to let go of certain activities if the stress of doing them outweighs the benefit.
Alternate childcare with a friend.If you have children, then you might consider doing a childcare swap with a friend. Arrange to watch her children one day or afternoon and then let her do the same for you. This will provide each of you with some additional time for self-care.
Enjoying Your Me-Time
Pursue a hobby.Once you have cleared time in your schedule for me-time, you need to decide how to spend it. One fulfilling way to make the most of any free time you get is to engage in your interests. Even if you only have 30 minutes to dedicate to it, having a hobby helps you manage stress, offers an opportunity to make new friends, and adds a layer of intrigue and meaning to your life.
- Start back doing something you stopped like sewing, playing soccer, baking, or bird-watching. Your hobby can be virtually any activity that brings you joy.
- If time for yourself doesn’t necessarily translate to time alone for you, invite a friend or partner to join you. The two of you can strengthen your bond and relax during this stressful time of year.
- You might also consider finding an accountability partner to encourage you. You will be more likely to engage in an activity if you have someone counting on you.
Create a self-care box.Being prepared for leisure time means you won’t spend your precious moments searching around for what you need to relax. Depending on your preferences, fill a box or bag with all the essentials you need to unwind. Keep the box in the same place, and the items fully stocked, to save time.
- If loved ones are asking for gift ideas for you, think of things they might be able to add to your self-care box.
- Think of your self-care box as a first aid kit for your mental wellness.Include various items for rest and relaxation such as bath salts or bombs, tea, chocolate, headphones, a journal, a coloring book, or a spine-tingling novel.
Take a nap.Another way to spend your special time is by taking a quick power nap. The holiday season can lead to nights up catching up on work before the break or early mornings making Christmas crafts with the kids. If you’re experiencing an afternoon slump, consider getting some shut-eye to reenergize.
- Naps are actually good for you. Taking a 20-minute nap can boost alertness, lift your mood, and reduce tension.
Practice gratitude.Spending a few minutes recognizing all that you’re grateful for in your life is a wonderful practice to cultivate during the holidays. Expressing gratitude improves your own well-being and that of the people you express it to.
- Spend your me-time writing special notes on holiday cards to thank all the people who make you life full such as friends, coworkers, neighbors, and relatives.
- You might also spend a few minutes each day writing in a gratitude journal. Jot down 3 to 5 things that you are thankful for.
Managing Holiday Stress
Practice deep breathing.The holidays are stressful. Whether you’re worried about finances or anxious about having all your loved ones together under one roof, this time of year can be associated with anxiety and depression.Counteract the negative aspects of the holiday season by starting a deep breathing practice. Do this regularly to ward off anxiety. You can even practice deep breathing when you don't feel anxious.
- Breathing deeply kicks on the body’s natural stress response, helping you slow your heart rate and ease tension. Try breathing in through your nose for about 4 counts. Hold the breath. Then, release the breath from your mouth slowly for 8 counts. Repeat as needed.
Try meditation.If worries are making the holidays less than merry for you, take a meditation break. People are often intimidated by meditation, but it’s a very simple technique with amazing benefits. Fight illness, eliminate negative thoughts and emotions, improve self-awareness, and reduce stress—all while taking a moment to sit in silence.
- One practical method is mantra meditation. Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Close your eyes. Select a phrase, such as “I am the picture of calm” and repeat it over and over in your mind. Take deep, cleansing breaths. When distracting thoughts enter your mind, don’t judge yourself. Simply let them come and go as you repeat your mantra and breathe gently. Try this exercise for about 10 minutes and add more time as you get accustomed to the practice.
- You can also look into local meditation classes to help you destress.
Stay physically active.The holiday season is colder, which can make it less likely that you want to lace up those running shoes. However, getting exercise should be a priority during this time of year, and always. Do something good for yourself by stealing away just 30 minutes on most days of the week for physical activity.
- Exercise can be done alone or in a group. And, it doesn’t have to be limited to gym activities. Go for a hike. Take the kids sledding. Go window shopping with your best pal.
Eat a healthy breakfast.Your holiday schedule may be filled to the brim, but a quick and easy way to take time for yourself is by ensuring that you eat a solid breakfast each day. When you’re busy or stressed, you’re more likely to reach for convenience foods that aren’t good for the body. Or, you might skip breakfast altogether.
- Prep your meals the night before as you are getting ready for bed. Set aside filling and healthy options such as toast and peanut butter, fruit and yogurt, or oatmeal. Try to eat at home, so you know you’re making healthy choices.
Limit alcohol.Be sure not to overindulge on alcohol over the holidays. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and it can make you feel depressed if you drink too much of it for long periods of time. Opt for non-alcoholic drinks most days and if you do drink, keep it to one or two drinks maximum.
Video: How to take time for yourself - guilt-free!
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