It’s the best gift of all—self care. After all, you are probably thinking of everyone else in your family and community at this time of year. You’re planning, shopping, wrapping gifts, arranging travel details, taking candied pecans to the elderly woman across the street. So many things to do to make the holiday special for those you care about.

But it’s important that you make time to take care of yourself first and foremost, because if you’re stressed to the limit, you can hardly be in good enough shape to care for family and friends. That’s why flight attendants tell you to administer oxygen to yourself before you help others. You need to give yourself particular care during the busy, hectic holiday season.

Give Yourself A Holiday Gift Nancy'S Counseling Corner

Here are some thoughts on how to manage to stay refreshed and renewed during the season:

Set your intention.Every day you can chose how you will spend it. If you let yourself get distracted by things that aren’t important to you, then you will have squandered away valuable time and energy. When you wake up in the morning—or maybe better yet before you go to bed at night—decide what your intention is for the coming day. Decide how you will be and what you will do.

Keep up your good habits.Yes, this is a good idea, but it’s easier said than done. Your time is so limited. But there’s always time when you want to make time. Maybe you truncate your activity. Instead of going to a full yoga class, do a sun salutation at home. Instead of going on that hour walk with your walking group, take a brisk twenty-minute turn around the block. And don’t forget that fresh air is a great tonic. You must keep doing the things that keep you grounded.

Be mindful of how you’re feeling.It’s easy to get so caught up that you don’t even realize you’re a bit anxious or worried or stressed. Take a few breaks throughout the day to check in with yourself. Are you feeling calm? Are you keeping hydrated? Are you feeling tired? Do you need to take a little time out to breathe deeply to keep even-keeled? Just a few minutes of counting your breaths can slow you down and help you to focus.

Protect your alone time.Whether you’re visiting others or they’re visiting you, there is only so much togetherness you can take. Everyone needs some down time, and you must respect your limits. You don’t have to make a big deal out of it, but retreat to a quiet room with a book before chaos gets the better of you. By now you probably know what your requirements are. If not, pay attention to yourself and take time off before you become too stressed.

Make a plan to treat yourself.Be deliberate about planning to do something nice for yourself, even if it’s a small something. Like listening to music, or sitting by the fire, sipping a cup of chai tea or calling a friend. Schedule something everyday that is a treat for you. Then give yourself permission to fully enjoy it. Even when it’s an extra cookie or two.

Take time to reflect.What makes you feel good? How do you want your holidays to go? What can you do to be kinder and gentler to your own self? Reflect on what is good for your soul and body, and then take steps to do it. Remember that you should be at least as good to yourself as you would be to a friend. Be patient with yourself. Treat yourself with respect. And allow yourself to enjoy the glories of the season.


Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: