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Hello! Vanessa here this week. Holiday shopping, decorating, cleaning, baking, visiting … there are approximately a bajillion things that may take precedence over self-care during the holidays. Here’s a tip: if you’re trying to make it through this time of year at least mostly intact, it's time to move yourself to the top of your to-do list.

Why? Because regular self-care, over time, helps you stay happier and healthier and reduces your risks of illness and injury in the long term. And it doesn't have to look like big sweeping changes! Here are five small ways you can prioritize YOU during the holidays and find a little calm in the chaos.

  1. Know your limits. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations only to produce extra holiday stress. If a holiday task has become overwhelming, this may be the year to let someone else host the parties or do the shopping.
  2. Learn to say no. There's often a surge of invitations during the holiday season, and it can seem like there’s never enough time! It's OK to set boundaries and politely decline some of those invites. Explanations aren't necessary: simply let the host know that you appreciate the invitation but cannot attend.
  3. Schedule your downtime first. Set aside "me time" for when you need it most. This can be small daily breaks, longer weekly time slots or even a day of self-care. Make a plan that includes time for physical activity, sleep and spending time on activities that reduce stress and bring joy. Once that's set, you can fill in the rest of your calendar.
  4. Make self-care a habit. Practicing self-care is not a one-off proposition. It's important to establish a regular self-care routine so your physical and emotional health remain your top priorities. Choose self-care times that make the most sense with your lifestyle. For example, take a short walk on your lunch breaks or meditate quietly five minutes before starting the day.
  5. Let small self-care activities add up. Self-care doesn't need to be difficult or time-consuming. Build small acts of kindness for yourself throughout the day: eat foods that energize you; get up from your desk for a few minutes every hour; decompress with a new book before bedtime.

I hope that at least one of these suggestions sounds doable for you as we near the end of 2023, and I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!