5 ways to take care of yourself this holiday season


Not only can financial strain, family tension, and overindulgence of food and alcohol plague Canadians at this time of the year, so can cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While the holidays can be a period full of social gatherings and celebrations, it can also be a period of expectations, anxiety, and overwhelm.

Self-care is essential to maintaining well-being, especially in December when most people’s schedules are full of commitments and obligations. Beat the stress this year with some healthy practices to keep your mind and body in balance.  Here’s how:

1. Give yourself permission to say ‘no.’

Although the holiday season can be a time of fun and celebration, it’s also a period where people can experience severe burnout. Between hosting extended family members, keeping up with traditions, purchasing gifts, and attending functions and parties, balancing the constant social engagements with regular life duties can be exhausting. Plus, all of the FOMO (fear of missing out) that many people experience from the constant updates on social media can make people even more inclined to fill their schedules and busy themselves. But when you commit to checking in with your body before you agree to yet another obligation, you can practice the art of saying ‘no.’ For example, if you’re tired, feeling worn out, or on the brink of another head cold, it’s a great idea to take a pass on whatever plans you’re about to commit to. Get rid of the ‘shoulds’ and making appearances to please others, and focus on you and what you really need to do to take care of yourself. 

2. Practice moderation

With the excess Christmas baking, turkey dinners, deserts and, you guessed it, holiday cocktails, it’s easy to go overboard in December and compromise your health. Remember that nothing needs to be done in extremes; have a glass of wine and make sure you stay hydrated; enjoy a gingerbread cookie and don’t forget your green juice; go to that holiday work function and dance all night to keep the pounds off; make your favourite meal and consider healthy ingredient alternatives. Restricting yourself during the holidays is unrealistic for most people, so instead of trying to stick to a diet or meal plan at this time of the year, see if you can maintain whatever version of balance feels sustainable to you. 

3. Release expectations

It’s easy to get wrapped up in expectations at this time of the year. Instead of comparing this holiday season to last, or expecting each party or function to be better than ever, take some pressure off of yourself. Although it’s tempting to make lofty goals of holiday commitments, many people end up feeling overloaded with responsibility, and then guilty for not being able to live up to the standard they created for themselves. To avoid this trap, treat each day during the holidays as you would a regular day, and then see any tradition, party or celebration as an add-on. This will help to keep you grounded and realistic with your expectations of yourself, others, and the season as a whole. 

4. Honour where you’re at

The media paints a picture of the holidays being ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ but for many people, this time of the year can bring up a lot of emotions. For example, if  you’ve lost a loved one or have strained relationships with family members, it’s easy to feel like you’re an outcast among the hustle bustle of Christmas cheer. But rather than pasting on a fake smile and pretending everything is fine, let yourself feel the feelings that come with being a human. Honour where you’re at, and know that it’s okay to not be okay. If you’re needing some extra emotional support, consider adding CBD into your self-care routine [*].

5. Get organized

Gift-giving and hosting guests are major contributors of stress at this time of the year. By getting organized, some of this stress can be reduced. Start your holiday shopping early, plan out the meals you’re going to make, and dial in what you need to get ready before hosting family and friends. Write lists, intentionally schedule errands into your calendar and delegate tasks to other family members. Being prepared can help you feel less overwhelmed and actually get you excited about the gifts you’re giving and the commitments you have during the holidays. 

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