Self-Care During the Holidays
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Tessa Brennan - 05/12/2019

Self-Care During the Holidays: 5 Ways to Rest and Recharge this Season

The holidays can be a wonderful time of year...friends and family come together to celebrate, Christmas trees and twinkly lights perk up the short days, and it’s also... incredibly overwhelming? (Is it just me?) If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that self-care is CRUCIAL during the holidays. Keep reading for 5 easy self-care tips you can use this holiday season. My favorite? Taking time to self-reflect!

This year, I had the pleasure (and privilege!) of traveling home to spend Thanksgiving with my family. If you’ve already read my blogpost “Creating Connection Around the Thanksgiving Table” you’ll know I was a little nervous about heading home for the holiday. Family time is so important to me, but for my quasi-introverted self, it can also be stressful.

When I’m visiting family, I feel compelled to spend every waking moment with them. We don’t all get together very often and I want to create as many beautiful memories as possible. However, over the years, I’ve learned that time spent with my family is much more fulfilling and joyful when I take time alone to rest and connect with myself. 

Before traveling home this year, I spent time contemplating simple ways I could take care of my body amid long days in airports, big family dinners, and 5 adults (plus a new baby!) packed into my mom’s downsized home. And let me tell you...having these self-care tips up my sleeve made a HUGE difference in how I connected with my family.

If you’re visiting or hosting family over the holidays (or are just feeling stressed by the hustle and bustle of the season) here are 5 self-care tips you can use to rest, recharge, and really make the most of this special time of year.

5 self-care tips in short:

  1. Take a walk
  2. Journal
  3. Nourish your Body
  4. Prioritize Rest and Sleep
  5. Go for Quiet Time

Take a Walk

I live in a major city, so when I’m visiting my mom in rural Washington, I spend as much time in nature as possible. This trip, I challenged myself to walk or run at least 5 miles outside every day. Not only was this an act of self-discipline (I feel SO much better when I keep up an exercise routine while traveling!), but these solo jaunts in nature gave me time away from everyone so I could connect with myself.

I didn’t listen to music or podcasts...I just tried to stay present with my surroundings. When I got home each day, I felt like a new person - ready to dive back into conversation and connection.

I chose to walk/run outside because being in nature is what feeds my soul, but this could be anything! Just get yourself out of the house and get your blood pumping. Yoga, a bike ride, or a trip to the gym could do the trick. :)

Woman walking in nature


When I woke up each morning, I took 5 - 10 minutes to self-reflect by myself before going to the living room to chat and have coffee with my family. I did this in Vertellis Chapters, but you can use a notebook or even a blank sheet of paper. Chapters has inspiring journal prompts for you, but if you’re working in a notebook, ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I grateful for?
  • What’s something I appreciate about my family?
  • What intention would I like to set for myself today?

Woman writing in Vertellis Chapters

Nourish your Body

Just like with exercise, I know how much better I feel when I eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods. This can be challenging during the holidays when sugary-treats and alcohol are abundant, but if I know anything about myself, it’s that I turn into a major crankster when I’m riding that wave of sugar highs and lows.

My solution? Enjoy the special dinners and holiday parties, but keep ‘regular’ meals healthy. My sister and I took turns cooking healthy dinners before and after Thanksgiving, and usually had leftovers that could be used for a healthy lunch, too!

As a result, we all felt lighter and more energetic than if we’d only noshed on stuffing and pumpkin pie for 5 days.

Rest and Sleep 

Sure, staying up late to watch Home Alone for the umpteenth time is great...but not when you’re waking up at 6 AM for a full day of family activities or braving airport traffic to go pick up loved ones.

Sleep is heralded as the most important act of self-care - without it, everything else tends to suffer (mood, productivity, immune system, etc.).

By giving yourself adequate sleep, you’ll be more present and giving with your family and less likely to fall prey to colds, flu, and even the winter blues. 

P.S. If you don’t get a great night’s sleep...take a little cat nap in the early afternoon! 20 minutes is all you need to boost your mood and alertness. 

Woman sleeping

Go for Quiet Time

Like I said earlier, when I’m with family, it’s easy for me to feel guilty if I step away from the group and take time for myself.

Over Thanksgiving though, I realized I need that quiet time to recharge my batteries. When I felt that my body and brain needed a little reset, I simply went to my bedroom, shut the door, and read a book. Sometimes I stayed for 10 minutes, other times, I needed a full hour.

If you have a full house this holiday season, don’t be afraid to step away from the hullabaloo and take some quiet time for yourself. Read, meditate, journal, nap...whatever you choose to do, I promise you’ll feel rejuvenated when you re-emerge (which will only benefit your family!). We've all heard it: self-care is not selfish!

Woman reading quietly with dog

Self-Care is Important All-Year-Round!

I wrote these tips specifically for the holidays since I just returned from Thanksgiving and was very grateful to have some self-care tools to lean on. However, these tips can (and should) be used all-year-round!

What’s your favorite self-care tool? Drop us a comment and let us know!

Happy Holidays!

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