Self-Care Practices to Try Over the Holidays to Avoid Seasonal Stress

Together with Athleta, we're compiling actionable wellness advice you need from the experts—and Well+Good is bringing it to life all year long at events in NYC. Here, reiki master and empowerment coach Kelsey J. Patel explains how to take care of yourself this holiday season.

(Image: Getty images/ svetikd)

If thinking about all the family you'll be interacting with, old friends you haven't seen in ages, and copious amounts of sugar (so much sugar) that happens over the holidays sends you into a stress nose-dive, you're not alone. So what do you do to get back into balance—and good spirits?

"This is the time of the year that's meant to be spent relaxing, receiving, giving if it feels good and joyful to you, and loving your life and the people in it outside of your weekly routine and work," says Kelsey J. Patel, reiki master and empowerment coach. Tellingly, she also notes it's a time to "replenish, refuel, and hopefully re-fill our cups," which sounds a lot like self care.

So, rather than focusing on external factors that are probably out of your control, try to shift your mindset and focus on you (we know, it's tough). Consider it putting on your own oxygen mask first before helping others—or in this case, reconnecting with what the season is all about, sans the stress-fest.

Keep reading to learn Patel's four ways you can take care of yourself during the holidays.

(Image: Getty Images/Aja Koska)

1. Don't Forget to Check In With Yourself

It's easy to get caught up with preparing dinner or wrapping gifts until your fingers fall off, but be sure to take a few seconds to ask what's going on with you.

"Do a daily check-in with yourself each morning to see what you need, just for you, that day," Patel says. "It could be the simplest thing like your morning coffee alone, a 30-minute walk with your favorite music, or drinking a green juice to fuel your body."

2. Tell Your Friends and Family How You Feel

During these fast-paced few weeks with parties popping up every other weekend, you tend to nod your head yes to basically anything your family or friends ask of you—but that doesn't mean you should ignore the feelings you have or feel like they aren't valid enough to share.

"So often what happens during the holidays is that people don't say what they are needing or desiring and instead just go along with everything and everyone else's needs and they dismiss their own," Patel says. "Honor yourself and your desires and share it lovingly and openly."

(Image: Getty Images/Westend61)

3. Move Your Body

You know how after a long day at work sometimes all you need is a proper sweat session? Endorphins can do some pretty magical things, so when you notice you're slipping into a stressed-out mood, kickstart a yoga flow or set out on a light jog to get your blood pumping.

"Take a little time each day to move the energy of the body and watch how you will shift the energy of the mind," Patel says.

4. Do Things That You Really Enjoy

A giant factor that leads you to feeling subpar over the holidays is that you aren't taking part in the things that you genuinely like to do. Patel suggests making plans with family or friends that bring you pleasure, like taking a fitness class, making dinner, or putting on a face mask and settling into the couch for a movie night. (Yes, you just might actually bond with your loved ones this year.)

Remember: The holidays are for celebrating and spending quality time with people you love, not for pretending to have a fun time for the sake of everyone else. So, set aside allotted time for self-care rituals that speak to you and invite your friends and family to join in, too.

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