Five tips for seasonal self-care

3083316643_6e35e44a04Holiday self-care is so important. Regular readers of my blog will know that, from time to time, I like to remind everyone (including myself) of the importance of self-care, especially over the festive season.

Here are some of my favourite principles for holiday self-care.

We all have differently-shaped families and lives and the holiday season looks very different for many of us, so I’m not under the illusion that these suggestions will be right for everyone.

I’m also not of the view that self-care is all about bubble baths and scented candles. Yes, I love and mention those, but it’s also about boundaries, saying no, and understanding that women do more than their fair share of kin keeping and emotion work at home and in the workplace and this can become particularly heavy around holiday periods.

My hope is that this post will serve as an invitation to take a few moments to think about how you’re going to care for yourself over the holiday season. No matter whether you’re at home, away with family at friends or at work, perhaps attending the births of the next generation of Carols, Noels and Hollies 🥰

I’m not on call this year, but I’m sending positive vibes to everyone who is.


1. Cross everything off your list that can wait til next year.

I love this one, and I practice it every year. I know some people say to ‘not put off til tomorrow what you can do today’, but I’ve found that, even if I do everything on my list today, it just fills up again by halfway through the next morning. So now I practice conscious crossing-offness.

I cross off tiny things and large things. I delegate where I can. I ask myself whether it’s really important to do something, or whether my sense that something is essential stems from some old and possibly gendered conditioning that I need to free myself from.

This applies to work and family life. I have, for instance, crossed off a couple of blog posts that I was going to write. They’ll still be relevant next year.

When friends get overwhelmed, I offer to cross things off their lists as well, though people rarely take me up on my offer. But I can assure you that it’s very therapeutic.

If you don’t know what to cross off your list, you could always try closing your eyes and stabbing at it with a pen… And then ask yourself if what you’ve hit is really necessary.


2. Get the essentials done ahead of time.

Not being on call over the holidays is a fairly new thing to me and I am still learning how to manage that. I’m not a naturally organised person, and in recent years I have tried some new tactics, with mixed results. In my attempt to plan and cook ahead one year, it turns out I should have been clearer about how many nuts we might need over the festive season before Chris headed out to the supermarket. (This did lead to some bonus walnut-related activities in workshops though, so there’s always a silver lining).

May I also advise anyone thinking of making gravy or stock ahead of time to label it while it’s cooling in the dish though, in case someone helpfully comes along to wash up while they are elsewhere and tips it all down the sink by mistake?

But in theory, planning ahead is great. 


3. Take time out.

2286556104_240a4786abI’m happy to report that I’m generally good at this one.

So far this year, I have watched four completely rubbish seasonal films in the day time, which I have found to be incredibly decadent and thus therapeutic.

I thoroughly recommend this and, if you’re not sure where to look for them then just go to your TV planner and type ‘Claus’ into the search facility. This will almost guarantee from the outset that they’re going to have happy endings, which is an essential element of such therapy.

Add hot tea, chocolate, some knitting or sewing and/or a magnesium footbath as desired.

And let someone else worry about the kin keeping for a bit. Or just don’t worry about it at all.


4. Do less, not more.

I realise that my friends in the Southern hemisphere will have to wait til June to apply this one, but the winter is a time for resting. We need less activity, more sleep and, just like seeds snuggling under the ground, we’re meant to be slowly growing our ideas in the back of our minds for the spring rather than bouncing around trying to implement them in the winter.

Someone sent me this lovely post about holiday self-care a couple of years ago and I’m re-sharing it because I really like the idea of ‘hopping on the no train’.

I’m going to try and find time for the reflection idea as well, but I’m wary that it might become something else I feel I need to add to my list…


5. Set boundaries

Click here to see our Etsy shop, which sometimes features special things for the holidays. You have to be quick though; they don’t tend to stay in there for very long!

I’m thinking a playpen sounds like a good idea. For me and a book and whatever treats Santa brings.

But in seriousness, space and boundaries are really important. Again, I don’t just mean nipping off to have a bath in peace, though that’s great. I mean being able to be clear with people about what is and isn’t okay, and when you don’t have the capacity for more. 

I’m not an expert on boundaries, but there are some really good resources out there if you want to find out more.

Here’s a great introduction:

It’s important to be able to say no, to be clear about what you will and won’t do, and to protect yourself from the world when you need to.

I know it’s sometimes hard to create space, and I’ve had years where that would have been impossible due to family commitments. But I have come to believe that it’s vital to consider space and boundaries as part of caring for ourselves.


How about your holiday self-care tips?

Are you already good at holiday self-care, or would you benefit from giving it a bit of thought? 

Do you have ideas that work for you?

If so, feel free to share this post along with your own ideas.

Maybe it will inspire others to think about how to make time and space for themselves, which ends up benefiting everybody…


P.S. If you still need last-minute gifts or stocking fillers for midwife or birth friends or anybody who might be in need of woman-centred birth information, please consider Sara’s books. Or our Etsy shop! And we have 101 dissertation tips for current or budding students, of any discipline!


photo credit: Holiday Cheer via photopin (license) and floating flowers via photopin (license)

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