December 22, 2016

Self Care Strategies for the Holidays

Self-Care Strategies for the Holidays. Make time for yourself! More on Shutterbean.com!

I was in a really long line at the grocery store yesterday when I witnessed two older (than me) women giving each other a gigantic/supportive hug that lasted pretty close to 8 seconds. One woman was saying how tired she was and the other woman asked how she could help. Everyone in my lane was witness to this exchange.  It was a beautiful thing to watch. And daaaaaaaang. It sure made me want a hug.

Most of the time I see or am involved in this conversation:

How’s your holiday season?


Totally. Me too. WHAT DID I COMMIT TO?

[And then we talk about all we have to do and it goes on and on and ON FOREVER AND EVER.]

Or we hug and ask how we could possibly help.

I like that option better. 

During this time of year, I have to pull out my tools to get me through the season.

These are some of my Self-Care Strategies for the Holidays

(besides hugging people):

Self-Care Strategies for the Holidays. Make time for yourself! More on Shutterbean.com!

Give yourself permission to go slow.

I am learning this…constantly. I’m a person who rushes through things (I’m also easily distracted) and as a result, I accidentally make mistakes (like put the wrong address on a card!).

Things I say to myself to remind myself to go slow:

Take your time. It’s not a race.

It will get done.


What can you have someone else help with? When you focus, things are executed better.

When you focus, things are executed better.

It’s OK that you didn’t send your cards out at the beginning of the month. You sent them out and that’s what matters. 

Don’t Forget to breathe.

My coping mechanism is holding my breath. It’s really bad. Don’t be like me. Take a breather. Seriously, yoga definitely helps.  Breathing is an easy way to give yourself a pause. Take a deep breath before you leave your car or walk into a party. Center yourself. Think about what you’re about to walk into. Remember some of your healthy coping mechanisms and GO.

Take yourself out of the situation. 

Some people call this running away from your problems. I think that sometimes taking yourself out of the situation can be a good way to advocate for yourself.  It doesn’t have to be big or dramatic. You can just casually, non-aggressively excuse yourself.

Let me give you a scenario:

During this time of year, my stress can make me say/do things that are not helpful.  Like the other day at the bank, I almost lost it on the lady “helping” me, but I excused myself and I said, “I have to go now. Thank you for your help.”  I came back the next day and apologized for my swift exit and picked up where we left off. I left because I knew I would have said things I didn’t want to. I was protecting (us) really. Yelling at someone would have solved nothing.

This can be done with relatives…especially during political/heated discussions. Just remember to try to be considerate while doing so.  So, your aunt is going off about something and your dad is about to lose it and you don’t know what to do?  Slowly walk to another room (bathrooms work!) and hang out there for a bit. Heck! Walk to your car because you “forgot something,” if you can.

Can’t leave? Just BREATHE. Take a deep breath and collect your thoughts before you accidentally launch into something you might regret. Again, PAUSE.

Get Enough Rest.

This is part of the give yourself permission to go slow concept. Make sure you slow down this time of year and get rest. Put yourself to bed early if you can. You need all the energy you can get if you have to be around tons of people. Unless you’re an extrovert, then please TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.

Make Better Food Choices & Drink Plenty of Water.

The food choices…well that’s kind of hard this time of year. Find some good choices and go after them. It’s definitely easier said than done. And if you do go overboard, get yourself back on track after all of the parties and such and don’t waste energy beating yourself up.  It can seriously distract you from engaging with others if you’re feeling really bad about yourself. Every day is a new day. You have til January to start something new….like the Whole30!

It’s cold & dry. Drink water. Your skin will thank you….especially if you’re drinking alcohol.

Take a Walk/Go Outside:

This is something I have to do especially during this time of year. As an introvert, I can get SOOOO drained from being around a lot of people all at once. Talk about over-stimulation! I really need some time to clear my head and just THINK thoughts without being interrupted. When I am scheduling out my days, I always try to see if there is a window of time where I can get outside. If there isn’t one, I get up earlier and do it.

When I’m outside, I like to see all the stuff that’s going on in nature. It helps remind me how ridiculous some of the things I stress out about are. NATURE IS WONDERFUL. Stress doesn’t belong in nature.

Lower Expectations/Have None!

When you have no expectations, you leave room to be pleasantly surprised by something. If you have expectations, you can be easily disappointed….and then possibly spiral into how much someone/something let you down. Don’t place any expectations on anything or anyone. It will help you be as present as possible and enjoy WHAT IS.

Unplug your phone. Like for real.

 It’s not always easy for me to unplug from my phone. Especially when I see something that I could add to My Everyday Life series. When I am around friends and family I try really hard to be present. Plus, my parents get SUPER annoyed when ANYONE looks at their phones, so there are little things I do to help prevent me from getting sucked in/lectured.  Sometimes I’ll leave my phone in the other room, or if I need to take photos, I turn my phone on airplane mode, so I don’t see any alerts. If something is urgent, I excuse myself (when I can) and take care of it away from the crowd.

Engage All of Your Senses.

This is tied to not having your phone/a screen/device distracting you. The other day we left the house and I thought I didn’t have my phone with me. Hello, panic. But also….WHY PANIC???!

What did we do before we had screens?

We paid attention and made memories by really experiencing what we were experiencing! When I didn’t have my phone, I remembered that I can make memories in other ways….like paying attention to smells, sounds, environments, and visuals. There are smells I still remember from my childhood. What would I ever be able to remember from this period of my life? Who knows!

You don’t always need a photo to prove you were there. Pull out a piece of paper and write down your memory. Better yet, write in a journal.

Focus on Making Good Memories.

How many holiday seasons we get to experience in our lives? This is my 37th Christmas. Each Christmas has been different somehow.  Try to make each holiday special so you can remember what happened. Silly photos can help….especially when older relatives are involved. Maybe you want to start a new tradition? Bring something new into the mix.

Sometimes I worry not getting someone the right gift because I put a lot of pressure on myself. But you know what? I can make an effort in engaging in really awesome conversations with people and that can abolish my gift insecurities. Good memories/conversations can last a lifetime!

Steal Time for Yourself.

One of my friends said on Twitter this week that she goes to the movies (secretly!) when she’s out shopping. Another friend of mine just took herself out for a pedicure.  I took myself out to breakfast the other morning so I could make TO DO lists without being distracted by all of my work around the house. Figure out what you can do to make yourself feel better during the holidays. It can even be something like reading a book while you’re waiting in your car or taking a hot bath (with bubbles & a cocktail!) at night.  When you do take that time for yourself, really APPRECIATE IT.

Reflect on the Past Year.

With all the rushing around, don’t forget that we’re closing out the year. Give yourself some kudos. WHEW! We made it through another year!  Write down some things you learned this year. What are you most proud of? What will you take with you into the new year?  I loved watching Marie Forleo’s Year End Review+ I’m planning on working through my 2017 intentions with Chani Nicholas and taking stock of what happened in 2016, during Cooper’s school break. 2016 was a crazy year but still filled with a lot of good things. Find the good things!

Do you have any self-care strategies to add? Leave comments below!

Don’t forget to be a good advocate for yourself and have a fantastic holiday!!!



  • Abbi

    It seems like this has been a rough season for a lot of people, or maybe more people are just being vocal about their stress and anxiety. I’m sure we can all use some extra ideas for self-care! Thanks for sharing!

    • Tracy

      Yes! I think it’s a combo of both! Either way, I am really appreciating people’s honesty.

  • M

    Thank you for this! It is so important. I lost my mom unexpectedly just before Christmas five years ago, so the time of year would be hard enough without all the to-do lists and family pressures and etcetcetcetc weighing me down too! (I’m also an introvert and all the constant interactions drain me too!) By the end of the season I am always a stressed, crying at the drop of a dime, sleepless mess snapping at everyone around me. This year my goal is to take care of me first. I’m printing this and putting it up in my dressing room as a daily reminder. Thanks for using your platform to remind us all about the importance of self-care.

    • Tracy

      I am so sorry for your loss. I can imagine that would add so much more stress during the holidays. Remember to take care of yourself! You deserve it!!!

  • Jill

    Such great advice. All these things are part of my self care strategies this time of year, also I stopped doing a huge one item bake day for neighbors. It would always stress me out. Now, I make a batch of cookies or candy or fudge here and there all month and be sure to always share some. It makes the whole tradition of sharing treats with neighbors more meaningful and relaxed for me. I remember trying to make the pioneer woman cinnamon rolls all day and trying to deliver. I would be grumpy if someone wasn’t home to give them their present!

    • Tracy

      I am doing the same thing! It’s amazing how much less pressure I have on myself as a result. YAY US.

  • Joy

    Oh this list is so good. My favorite is the “No Expectations” one. I learned this a few years ago but still have to be reminded of it all the time. Expectations have made a mess of a lot of things for me, so letting it go and just BE is so freeing.

    Happy Holidays, Tracy!

    • Tracy

      I get hung up on expectations of people to just do the right thing…or be thoughtful. I am learning that I can’t place my standards on other people. One person’s floor is another person’s ceiling. But sometimes it’s totally disappointing. You know?

      Hope you have a great holiday!! xoxox

  • libby

    Last year at Christmas we had a full house. My sister and nephew and brothers and everyone. We didn’t have enough beds so everyone just sprawled out on sleeping bags and air mattresses throughout the living and dining room. My heart was so, so, so full. This year, though… everyone moved away. It’s just my husband and I for Christmas. I told him that I’m afraid that I’ll be depressed on Christmas and so we decided to make a plan.
    A solid plan. No winging it. Because “winging it” often times means, “I dunno what do you want to do? I dunno what do you want to do?”
    Pen to paper, we have all of our activities and meals planned out for Christmas Eve through Christmas day. Including Joy’s cinnamon rolls and your reset salad because balance.

    Thank you for the recipes and the reminders. You do a beautiful ministry in this corner of the internet.

    • Tracy

      Sometimes I’m so bad at winging it….it’s frustrating!
      I love that you set out your intentions for your holiday.

      I plan on:

      taking stock of the year
      setting intentions for 2017
      going to the movies with my family
      heading to the water on nye
      doing art

      Thank you for all your support, Libby. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful comments (always!).

  • Heather

    This! I have to constantly remind myself to take deep breaths and just slow down. It’s so helpful not to be hosting this year and I’ve learned to just shrug my shoulders when the house is messy. It’s going to happen with 3 cats and 2 kids who are constantly on the move. Instead of getting cranky and worrying about what the house looks like I’m taking a step back and enjoying the chaos. My kids will grow up and one day I’m going to miss all of this. I don’t want to look back and wish I was more present, I want to be PRESENT now.

    • Tracy

      YES!!! Although by day two I am like internally screaming because there are so many things out of place in my house and I am just overwhelmed.
      I found a really good sweet spot with the cleaning, when I ask people to help. No one ever says no, and most of the time they want to help. I’ve just never asked…and don’t ask/don’t get!

  • Megan@Cozy Eats

    I love this! Last night I almost had a melt down moment in the grocery store/driving. There are so many people out and not paying attention, and I can’t handle it. My solution was getting home, heating up a comforting bowl of soup, lighting a candle, and unwinding while watching Gilmore Girls. It totally helped, I guess on your list that would be stealing time for myself, 🙂 Thanks for this, I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday.

    • Tracy

      Oh my goodness. People’s driving is THE WORST right now. Actually…it’s been like that for a few months. It seems like no one knows how to wait their turn. Everyone is always cutting in line at this stoplight near my house and I almost always see a close-accident each morning.

      Yay for stealing time for yourself. It’s awesome that you figured out how to do it for you!

  • Kelsey

    My yoga studio offers early morning classes on most holidays. It’s so nice to get out of the house for a quiet moment to take care of myself. I feel so much more focused, relaxed, and ready to take of any stressful family situation!

  • Jessica McLeod

    Hugs to you.
    I have a personal humidifier. It’s my holiday self-care BFF.

  • Sara

    Thank-you for this list! I read through it slowly, breathed deep, and I feel better already. 🙂 Things that create calm in our house are music, warm fires, and peppermint essential oil in the diffuser.

    As I think about what to keep and what to let go in this next year, your blog is on the “keep” list. Thanks for being you and sharing your life with the rest of us! Merry Christmas!

  • Caitlyn @ Candid Cerebrations

    The timing of this post is so fitting! I agree with Abbi that this season seems to be rougher than most (maybe side effects of election year?) But I really love the idea of putting your phone on airplane mode so that you still have some function but not the communication aspect. I think that will be great for me to do.

    • Tracy

      I’m really glad this resonated with you! Let me know how airplane mode goes! Happy holidays!

  • Heather

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m an introvert too so this is incredibly helpful and I really appreciated the anecdotes and suggestions you provided as well as the graphics. Very much love your blog and so appreciative that you’re open about being introverted and reference it for posts. Best wishes to you and your family. 🙂

  • Katie @ Live Half Full

    Thanks for sharing the reflection ideas, I’ve been struggling with how to reflect on the year and these help!

  • Hannah

    I remind myself that there’s only so much time and that if it all doesn’t get done, then it’s ok that it didn’t get done. My people already know how I feel about them, how much I love them, and that I appreciate them. They’re not wanting me to stress out about buying them another gift, making sure the wrapping paper all matches, or that I’m wearing the same dress to Christmas dinner for the third year in a row…all things I can stress over.

    Be easy on yourself. It’s your holiday too!

  • Rebecca

    What a great reminder to breathe, thanks Tracy! It’s so easy to forget that sometimes the best Christmas present can be stepping away, lowering expectations or just giving yourself some time.

    I woke up super early this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worrying about how busy the next two days at work are going to be, and how I’ll get through it. Then I decided to get up, make a pot of coffee and sit and paint my nails glittery red. I had to focus on it and it took me away from all the other noise in my head – plus every time I help a customer I’ll have whimsical nails that will make me smile. So much better than just tossing and turning in bed worrying!

  • Jocelyne

    I love your tips and yes stealing time for yourself is one of my favorites. In this demanding world I think we often have to take time for ourselves. Thank you for sharing. -Jocelyne from resonatecreations.com

  • Caroline

    You create this life for yourself.

    Have dignity and grace. Take responsibility for your own decisions. Only YOU decide what you do during this time of year (or any time).

    How about don’t do anything? What would happen? Will the world keep spinning without your tinsel?

    Never ever lash out at others and never use your blog as a way to vent from a highly privileged life.

    Take full opportunity of this very rare platform. Don’t fall into the trap of monetization and generating empty content to please a few.

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing to finally find a blog who’s purpose was to help other humans, animals, etc.

    I’m still looking for such…

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