For all the fabulous parts of the holidays—seeing friends and family, opening presents, eating delicious food—there’s also a lot of stress involved—a jam-packed schedule, awkward dinner party conversations, wondering if you bought everyone the perfect gift. And what do we do when we’re stressed? We lean into tried-and-true self-care methods that calm us down and ensure that we’re primed and ready for our next engagement. From meditating and putting our phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ to taking time for our beauty routine, here are nine easy ways to add a little self-care into your life this holiday season.
1. CREATE (AND STICK TO) A CALMING MORNING AND NIGHTTIME ROUTINE
Think about the things that set you up for a happy day (leisurely putting on makeup, taking a few minutes to enjoy your coffee) and a restful night (lighting your favorite candle, reading 20 pages of a book) and turn them into habits. The repetition will ensure that you start—and end—your day in the right mind-set.
2. PRACTICE GRATITUDE
Now is the time to reflect on the past year and what you’re grateful for. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, participants who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives than those in the study who did not. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor. Here are seven more ways to practice gratitude during the holidays.
3. MAKE TIME FOR BEAUTY RITUALS
With all the gift swaps and happy hours and four-course feasts, the holidays mean near constant social engagements. Engagements for which we want to look and feel our best. We like to think about our beauty rituals as a form of self-care in and of themselves, which is why we never skip heading to our nearest European Wax Center for a quick hair removal sesh (we mean quick: most EWC treatments take 15 minutes or less). We like to use that time as a moment to reset and do something kind for ourselves. Plus, if it’s your first time booking an appointment at European Wax Center, you’ll get your bikini line, underarm, ear, nose or brow wax for free.
4. TRY MEDITATING
Here’s some fascinating science: According to a Harvard University study, meditation may actually change the structure of your brain (in a good way). Researchers found that people who meditate had a decrease in brain cell volume in the amygdala, the area of that brain that is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. Whoa. Want to try it but not sure where to start? Here are five great meditation tips for beginners.
5. USE THE THREE-DAY RULE WITH GUESTS
Having friends and family come to visit is wonderful, but it’s also…exhausting. Enter this genius rule by which you let guests stay with you for only three days—no more. The key is to make this policy very well known to your nearest and dearest with plenty of advance warning so that there are no hurt feelings or surprises.
6. EXERCISE—EVEN JUST FOR 5 MINUTES
Getting your sweat on has been proven to decrease stress, improve sleep, boost productivity and lift your mood. That’s largely thanks to those feel-good chemicals, endorphins. And according to the American Psychological Association, you should feel the mood-enhancement effects of exercise after just five minutes (and it doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout, either). But you knew that already, right?
7. PUT YOUR PHONE ON ‘DO NOT DISTURB’
If only for an hour, spending time without texts, emails and Instagram stories looming over your head is so refreshing. Don’t forget to do the same for your laptop or iPad—you want to be unreachable for a little while.
8. WATCH YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
When you’re staring down the barrel of a month’s worth of holiday parties, secret Santas and last-minute shopping trips, your first instinct might be to reach for the biggest latte you can find. Not so fast—a study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that introverts who drank one cup of coffee or more performed more poorly on verbal ability tests than those who didn’t drink any, likely because the caffeine made them more anxious. Instead, stick with water (or better yet, herbal tea), take deep breaths and try your best to stay in the moment.
9. DO SOMETHING NICE FOR SOMEONE ELSE EVERY DAY
Every single day might sound daunting, but these don’t have to be grand gestures. Whether it means buying coffee for your work wife, holding the door for someone or just smiling as you walk down the street, random acts of kindness are so satisfying.