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10 Self-Care Ideas for Stress Relief During the Holidays

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As we put up the jack-o’-lanterns and set our sights on turkeys and seasonal trees, excitement is all around us. Along with the anticipation of the upcoming season, if you struggle with mental illness, anxiety might not be far behind. The added work and social obligations can leave us with panic tugging at our pant leg.

But anxiety and depression don’t have to be this huge and scary barrier to enjoying the holidays with our friends and family. Planning ahead by weaving in some self-care to your routine can prevent the stress from becoming unbearable.

Here’s my go-to list of self-care ideas that can be easily accessible during travel and used anywhere.

1. Music. It can’t get any simpler and accessible than that, right? Have some earbuds in your pocket ready to pop in when you need some peace. Try making a few playlists to have on hand when the mood strikes you.

2. Taking a bath or shower. There’s just something about the water washing over you that feels like a reset. The peace of a quiet space, the warmth and the sound of the water together can give much needed stress relief. Such an easy method to step away and make time for this self-care practice.

3. Guided meditation. Channeling some zen with a meditation session is a great habit to get into and a particularly helpful hat to pull out of the bag for the stress the holidays bring. There are apps like HeadSpace or videos on YouTube for a quick 10 minute reset that can have such a positive impact on the rest of the day.

4. Putty, slime or Play-Doh. I know what you’re thinking: that’s kid’s stuff. But maybe they’re onto something. There is such a wide a ray of colors, textures and scents of putty to buy nowadays. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is a favorite because of the choices they offer. They even have a holiday themed three-pack.

5. Reading. Grabbing a good book is an easily accessible option. It’s great for an airplane trip or right before bed. It doesn’t take much effort to find peace within a few chapters, creating a space to become absorbed in a story.

6. Journaling. Taking those swirling thoughts and letting them flow out from your mind to paper can reduce anxiety. Putting it in writing and letting it go can bring a sense of relief.

7. Connecting with nature. Whether it’s finding a window with a good view or tackling a hike up a beautiful mountain peak, there is just something about being outside that can be grounding. You can walk on the grass with bare feet, watch snow fall or listen to birds chirp in the distance. Utilizing your five senses is a stress-reducing technique that’s versatile enough to exercise anywhere.

8. Painting your nails or doing a face mask. Sometimes, a little pampering can melt the stress away. Painting your nails takes a few minutes and the focus needed to do it can be a great distraction. Grabbing a good face mask to throw in your luggage to have handy for some relaxation doesn’t take much forethought and can go a long way at the end of a rough day. You’ll have a chance to breathe and may enjoy enjoy it.

9. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). A little different than meditation, PMR can bring tension relief that anxiety and stress create in our body. You can find sessions on YouTube that don’t require anything but a few minutes of stillness and an open mind.

10. Coloring. Not everyone is an artist, but most people can color. Simple pictures, intricate patterns and everything in-between are available just about everywhere now. Grab your colored pencils, crayons or markers and color away. There is something magically calming about the sound of the contact of the pencil to the paper.

Gettyimages via Kerkez

Originally published: November 25, 2018
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