The very things that make the holiday season special — time with family, snowy weather, holiday parties, and gift-giving galore — can also be major sources of stress. When you’re feeling overworked or pressed for time, simply straying from your regular routine has the potential to become overwhelming. This holiday season, honor yourself with the gift of self-care by carving time out of your schedule for yourself regularly.
As any sensitive soul can attest, it is easier to give selflessly to others than to be generous with ourselves. Particularly around the holidays, when familial obligations kick in, we can almost feel duty-bound to put others’ needs ahead of our own. But this mentality doesn’t serve your highest good and can result in the types of unexpressed emotions that will leave you feeling depleted and haunt you later on down the road.
Let this article be an important reminder that you can’t pour from an empty cup — nor should you aspire to. For every critic that claims “self-care is selfish,” we are officially here to bail you out. In fact, we find that when we nourish ourselves, it makes us more available to be present for the loved ones we keep close.
Carla Oates is an author and the founder of the microbiologist-, nutritionist-, and naturopath-developed line of organic beauty supplements, The Beauty Chef. Her gut-friendly approach to wellness and beauty fits perfectly with our objective of making self-care a nécessité.
Here five essential self-care habits for wellness this holiday season, according to Carla Oates.
1. Take time to get outside.
We know, we know — unless you live in Southern California, winter is the least temperate climate for outdoor fun. But time spent outdoors, especially in nature, is a grounding way to get into the holiday frame of mind. “Science confirms what we know to be true,” Oates begins. “Immersing ourselves in the great outdoors, or even just the local park, works wonders on our mental and physical well-being.”
Make it a point to head out for a hike with your pet, go ice-skating with friends, attend a Christmas market, or take a weekend trip to the mountains to ski. Getting outside in the cold will also help your body adjust to the season.
Keep cozy wearing a nécessité Luxe Oversized Crewneck Sweat, $89, with limited edition Beatles socks, Happy Socks The Beatles Collector’s Box Set, $96, to keep your tootsies warm. (Listening to music that you love is self-care, too.)
2. Nurture your gut with a healthy ritual.
There are so many ways to indulge during the holidays — hence our recovery guide for when you accidentally eat gluten. But there’s something else that all of our favorite holiday beverages — eggnog, cider, hot wine, and Christmas beer — tend to have in common: sugar. (Okay, alcohol — which breaks down into sugar in our bodies.) Our seasonal favorites all spike the blood sugar and have the potential to wreak havoc on our guts.
Oates intimately understands the connection between gut health, glowing skin, and overall wellness. “Rich food, alcohol, and lack of sleep all contribute to poor gut health, but incorporating probiotic-packed foods into your day can help to bolster your microbiome (which means a more resilient gut) and promote skin radiance,” she shares.
Try the organic, bio-fermented, nutrient-packed supplements by The Beauty Chef in The Glow Kit, $89, which incorporate two of their top-selling blends for gut (and skin) health: Glow Inner Beauty Powder and Collagen Inner Beauty Boost.
3. Express your authentic self.
It’s easy to feel frazzled during the holidays, especially with travel and family visits planned. Making matters worse, many of us were raised to suppress negative feelings in the interest of acting positively, which makes it easy to become pent up. As a matter of fact, it is downright awful for the health to suppress your negative emotions — physically, mentally, and emotionally. Depression itself is considered to be a symptom of unexpressed anger.
“Studies show that those of us who suppress our emotions are more likely to experience anxiety and depression,” Oates shares. “If you’re feeling off, reach out to a friend or a loved one or get journaling.”
The sustainable retailer Voloshin sells gorgeous journals to choose from, like the Gilded Velvet Shoreline Small Velvet Journal, $20. It’s also a wonderful time to treat yourself to a reading from a medium or astrologer like Marie Satorior to book a distance reiki session if you can’t get away from the house.
4. Remember to detox.
Again, booze is a big factor to remember during the holiday season. Alcohol is broken down in the liver, and our body’s largest, internal detoxifier is placed under extra stress when we indulge. Many of our favorite holiday treats and dietary traditions can take an extra toll on the body, so the lesson here is to make time for your favorite detoxification practices. This might mean taking a class of infrared yoga, making yourself a detoxifying smoothie, or booking yourself a facial or massage that features lymphatic drainage.
“Aim to have at least four alcohol-free nights per week, and consider incorporating a liver-loving supplement into your day to support your body’s natural detoxification process,” Oates instructs. “And of course, munch on plenty of veggies and purifying herbs.”
We are dying to try out an at-home infrared sauna blanket, like Gizmo Supply 3 Zone Infrared FIR Sauna Blanket, $499.99.
5. Set boundaries.
Setting personal boundaries that honor your individual wellness is the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season. In fact, we consider it to be one of the most effective ultimate forms of self-care in life. Whether it’s FOMO, pressure from your family, or a commitment that you feel guilty breaking, finding a way to say “no” when it honors your wellness is key to living a fulfilled life, preventing burn-out, and simply being there for ourselves.
We’ve all over-booked ourselves before, and yet many of us resist allowing ourselves to rest. But consciously choosing to put your needs first is a must when it comes to self-care in the holiday season. It’s ok to stay in with your pet, catch up on Netflix, and swap your heels for slippers when you have had a long week.
“Knowing your boundaries, and actually respecting them, is key to keeping your cool and ensuring that you have the energy to enjoy the things that you’ve said yes to,” advises Oates.