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4 Simple Ways to Practice Holiday Self-Care

By Zack Kulm

At the end of the year, it can be easy to lose sight of personal goals. With the quintessential holiday travel and get-togethers inter-mixed with end-of-year work deadlines, the holiday season can feel daunting.

Too many expectations along with anxious thoughts of being ‘good enough’ can lead to bad decisions and negative thought-patterns — some of which may begin as coping mechanisms. It’s usually essential wellness practices that slip first, like getting enough sleep, eating balanced meals, or watching your wallet. And those little slips tend to have a large impact on your overall health and well-being.

For example, when you’ve had a stressful week at work with holiday gatherings, do you turn to eating high-calorie meals and drinking alcohol all weekend? Do you pull all-nighters just before traveling across the country? Or overspend on Black Friday because you needed that shirt in every color? Trust me, we’ve all been there.

This brings us to the age-old question: Is it possible to make it through the holiday season stress-free?

While some stress is normal and inevitable, it’s imperative to prioritize self-care in order to power through the holidays and make it to spring.

So this holiday season, give yourself the gift of self-love. Here are 4 simple ways to start:

Make a budget and be realistic about spending.

When January rolls around and you’ve spent all your savings on gifts and flights, it’s going to be a very rude awakening for your bank account. It’s wise to set limits on how much you spend on gifts before walking into the mall. If you don’t set a budget before shopping, the alluring holiday displays can entice you to overspend.

Once you’ve budgeted enough for rent and bills, then you can figure out how much to spend on holiday gifts and parties. Also, look for creative ways to find deals and discounts to save some extra green. For example, you can sign up for Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature and Target RedCard to earn 5% back on your spending. Properly managing your money is a significant courtesy you can do for yourself during the holidays.

Reflect on your purpose.

We often find ourselves lost in jam-packed schedules and forget to reflect on our accomplishments of the year. Part of self-care is not only discovering your unique purpose, but making it part of your everyday life.

Gloria Ward found her purpose in creating the I’m Loving Me Project, a community of women who have banded together to build confidence and practice self-love. As noted in her mission, Ward encourages women to share their stories as a way to help others find meaning.

Ward reminds us of how we can practice self-love in a recent interview with Women On Topp:

“If you’re waking up every day and keep asking yourself “What am I good at?” eventually you will figure it out and when you do, that’s when you have to act and get busy. The world needs what you have to offer. How can women become sooner aware of their potential? You have to start asking yourself empowering questions — “What’s becoming apparent or prominent in my life?” “What does success look like to me?” “What do other people say I’m good at?” Once you start to ask yourself questions, you will start to get hints. Look at your home library, what type of books do you mostly have? That’s what you’re interested in.”

First, you need to make a promise to yourself. Set aside a few moments every Sunday night during the holiday season to meditate and consider personal goals. Take note of how far you’ve come and where you plan to go in the year ahead. When your life is filled with purpose, you will attract new opportunities that align with your goals.

Practice intuitive eating to maintain your well-being.

When the weather gets colder, that fluffy thick-crust pizza with extra meatballs on top sounds a lot better than… kale salad. And honestly, it’s totally fine to splurge once in a while. That’s part of staying balanced. But when your body and nervous system stresses out for days at a time without replenishing vital nutrients, you’ll feel sluggish around family and friends.

Of course you want to eat your mother’s pie on Christmas Eve, but when you overindulge with three slices, you may be coasting dangerously towards binge-eating. The experts say that balance is the answer. Stick with the one slice instead of three. Enjoy one or two glasses of wine, not five or six. And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You want to be aware of your body’s needs and respond with fruits, veggies, and plenty of water.

Another way to practice intuitive eating is by adding ingredients to your diet that boost your mental health. As daylight dwindles and we clamber for indoor living, the winter blues will inevitably sneak upon us. In fact, one in five Americans experience some type of seasonal depression.

The Meditterranean diet has garnered attention recently as a way to reduce depression. By adding fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and nuts and seeds to your diet, while reducing refined carbohydrates, you’ll not only reduce mental health issues, but also prevent heart disease.

Pay attention to both positive and negative emotions.

The author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, advises that negative emotions can actually help you make a plan for happiness. In an interview with the New York Times, Rubin says:

“In my observation, it’s helpful to try to be as specific as possible about why you’re having negative emotions. If you’re sad because you want to make friends, going to a holiday party would be helpful.”

Instead of trying to escape from your holiday woes, try facing them head on. Just as Ms. Rubin suggests, your emotions are actually clues into how you can improve your life. Think about it. If your stress increases every time you think about work, then it’s time to reexamine your professional approach, or even consider a new job altogether. Ignoring emotions will only cause stress to bubble up inside of you, and delay the inevitable moment of anxiety. You can avoid these moments by taking a stand this very moment.

You can bring positive emotions into your life in other forms by taking note of what uplifts you. Try listening to a new podcast on self-improvement (my favorite is Pick The Brain) at the gym, or join a book club and experience amazing novels with a community!

The holiday season has a tendency to influence all kinds of cheer and stress into our lives. But, don’t forget, you hold control your own happiness. Take time for yourself, treat your body right, and remember, loving yourself is more priceless than anything you can buy.

Zack Kulm

Zack Kulm is a writer and strategist with articles featured on allconnect,, and soda. He covers a variety of topics from entertainment and gaming technologies to pop culture commentary. Kulm received a degree in English from Penn State University and Film Studies from Pittsburgh Filmmakers Institute. He also produces award-winning documentaries. His most recent work is the documentary 'Esfuerzo,' which spotlights a Mexican American family's immigration journey and their efforts to achieve the American Dream.