6 Self-Care Rituals for the Holiday SeasonThe holiday season is here, which means lots of decorating, shopping, and baking. But it can also bring stress, disappointment, and overindulgence. Need help recentering? Here are six self-care rituals to incorporate into your daily routine during the holidays:

1. Exercise regularly

Physical activity is the number one thing that most psychotherapists recommend to everyone because it reduces stress, improves mood and concentration, and combats depression. In fact, just ten minutes of cardio exercise a day triggers the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are feel-good hormones in the brain.

2. Express gratitude

Expressing regular gratitude increases dopamine and serotonin in the brain, building stronger positive emotional pathways. Simply ask yourself, "What am I grateful for?" every day and then create a list to reflect on.

3. Sleep more

Chronic sleeplessness can really interfere with your emotional and physical health. It leads to weight gain, depression, and irritability. Because the holiday season can be so busy, a lot of people don't get enough sleep during this time of the year. To improve your sleep hygiene, cut back on alcohol and caffeine, don't nap, and skip nighttime snacking.

4. Embrace your feelings

The holiday season can bring up a lot of strong emotions. While avoiding these emotions by eating and drinking excessively seems easier, it can actually be really harmful. Try to make sense of what's going on instead. The more you try to understand your emotions, the less scary they'll become.

5. Be in the moment

It's easy to become so wrapped up in all of the holiday excitement and planning that you sometimes miss out on the good moments that happen in the present. One way to learn how to embrace the here and now more is to take a few minutes to think about one thing you feel good about in the moment.

6. Monitor your stress levels

Track your stress levels throughout the day. If you start to feel stressed out, take note of the situation you are in when feeling stressed. Do certain people or activities trigger stress? To reduce stress, try walking, yoga, deep breathing, reading, or watching a TV show.

Eat, drink, and be merry

Remember to take time for your own needs this holiday season. Regularly schedule a time to engage in self-care activities, such as exercise, meditation, and favorite hobbies, so that you are able to enjoy all that the holidays have to offer. It just takes a little thought and planning.

References
  1. "6 Tips for Holiday Self Care," Psychology Today, December 15, 2015.
  2. "27 Self-Care Rituals to Reduce Holiday Stress," Redbook, November 21, 2018.

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