Holiday Self-Care Tips: How to Make Time for You

Be at the top of your to-do list.

You made your list and checked it twice. You also painstakingly decorated your house inside and out, curated a seven-course menu, went to the mall more times than you’d like, ran out of wrapping paper and still have more to do.

But now you can take a deep breath because we’re here to help. We asked AAA Members just like you how they find “me time” during the holidays and used their responses to compile this list of holiday self-care tips you can use throughout the busy season:

Practice gratitude

Did you know the simple task of asking yourself what you’re grateful for activates the part of your brain that releases dopamine and serotonin? In other words, giving thanks daily can make you happier—and even increases your attention, enthusiasm and energy during the holiday season.

Know you can say “no”

Dinners, family traditions, potlucks, outings … The holidays come with a lot of obligations, sometimes resulting in feeling spread a bit thin. So before you say you’ll be there, factor in the time it takes to prepare food, buy gifts and travel to your destination. If the thought overwhelms you, use this important holiday self-care tip: Say, “Thanks for the invite, but maybe next year.”

Looking for something to listen to while on a walk or jog? Our Well-Traveled with AAA podcast and webcast can inspire your next vacation.

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Stay active

Include your exercise regimen in your holiday plans, even when you’re away from home. Can’t make it to the gym? Consider a jog or walk around the neighborhood or simple cardio exercises in your room. (Think sit-ups, push-ups, squats and jumping jacks.) Carving out this time not only helps you stay healthy but also relieves stress during the busy season.

Wake up before everyone else

The early mornings are great for a lot of reasons, but during the holidays these are the top two: peace and quiet. Use this time to take a moment for yourself before the rest of the family wakes up and the daily busyness begins.

Looking for ways to make some “me time”? Download and print our “12 Days of You” checklist to keep as a handy reminder to do something each day for you.

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Eat well

It’s the holidays, so of course there’s a seemingly endless supply of delicious desserts wherever you go. And while we support indulging once in a while, it’s important to not overdo it. Here are a few ways to maintain healthy eating habits throughout the holidays:

  • Eat your greens daily.
  • Only eat when you’re hungry.
  • Listen to your body—when you feel full, stop eating.
  • If you’re in charge of bringing a dish to a get-together, opt for something healthy—even if it’s a simple vegetable tray.
  • Going out to eat? Choose a healthy restaurant.

Maintain your sleep schedule

When your eight-hour sleep schedule starts to look more like five or six, it’s time to reevaluate your holiday obligations. Poor sleep can lead to stress and irritability—two things that don’t mix with the holidays—so make extra time by skipping out on certain tasks like, say, making Christmas-tree-shaped cookies for your cousin’s mother-in-law.

Try meditation

If you meditate, you already know it’s a great tool for managing stress. If you don’t, the holidays are the perfect time to try it out—because back-to-back holiday plans and spending a lot of time with loved ones can generate stress and anxiety. Meditation can help with both because the practice of focused breathing and awareness can result in better stress management and a calm and clear state. Get started by adding a well-reviewed meditation app to your phone.

Allow yourself alone time

Whether it’s a weekend or just one day, you deserve some actual “me time.” That means really being by yourself with no chores, no obligations, no plans—not simply going holiday shopping by yourself. Here are a couple of ideas: Relax with a binge-worthy TV show and bowl of popcorn, or go all out with a hotel room for a night. If you find yourself unable to get away for even a day, here’s a pro tip: Scope out the quietest room in the house.

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