Holiday Self Care Tips for IECs

Editor's Note: Meant to get this out a week ago! Guess I need to read it -- right?!

10 Self Care Tips During the Holidays for IECs: How to Make the Most of Thanksgiving Through New Year's 

[by NCAG Blog Editor, Melissa Brock;]
Now that you've put away the last of the pecan pie (let's be clear -- into your belly, not into the refrigerator), it's time to consider whether you're actually taking care of yourself during this crazy (and soon to get crazier) time. Be honest. From the beginning of the pandemic till now, have you done all you can to take care of yourself?


A Vagaro and OnePoll survey found that more than seven in 10 Americans (73%) were more conscious of requiring self-care in 2020. By the end of 2020, 69% of the 2,000 survey respondents planned to do more self-care in 2021 than in the previous year. In addition, a total of 67% of respondents believed they'd continue their personal self-care routines after COVID-19. 


Which routines did Americans engage in? A total of 47% did at-home spa rituals, 41% went to an actual spa, 36% got a manicure or pedicure and 34% got a haircut. Respondents over 56 (47%) said that outdoor exercise was their  preferred choice of self-care.


What is your method of self-care, and how do you plan to make the most of Thanksgiving through New Year's? Let's walk through some tips for self care during the holidays.

Tip 1: Pencil in time for yourself.

You may experience a lot of extra social activities, office commitments, additional activities with your kids and more. You may not think you have a lot of time to practice self care, but it's really important to take a breather every now and then, even if you are an extrovert.  


Consider deep-breathing techniques or taking time to do a quiet activity like meditation, yoga or reading. Depending on your particular needs, you may need just a half hour or a couple hours of quiet time to rest and recharge.


Here are a few other quiet time activities you might want to consider trying: 

  • Journaling

  • Writing

  • Crossword puzzles

  • Sudoku

  • Word games

  • Knitting or sewing

Tip 2: Watch your spending.

Even if shopping is your stress reliever, debt most certainly does not provide a lot of stress relief. In fact, it magnifies stress to the max. And yet, people still go into debt over holiday shopping. 


A December 2020 Magnify Money survey found that 31% of all consumers added debt to their mental load in order to pay for holiday expenses, including spending on gifts, travel and entertainment. Consumers spent about $1,381, an increase of nearly $400 since 2015.


You may want to steer clear of the Joneses so you don't compound your debt problems. Actually, it's not that you have to steer clear of the Joneses altogether, you just have to remember that just because Mr. and Mrs. Smith next door got a new Expedition for Christmas, it doesn't mean that you need to as well, particularly if it doesn't fit into your budget.


Nobody cares if they get one less present from you compared to last year -- remember that. 

Tip 3: Evaluate your feelings.

It's common to feel sadness and loss acutely during the holidays. If you have lost a loved one, you may feel overwhelmed by your emotions, particularly when you realize that a loved one will not be sitting at the same place at the table or that you don't have to buy presents for someone who recently died.


You may feel tempted to dismiss your emotions or they may overwhelm you completely. 


Even if you haven't lost anyone, there's a biological reason you may feel sadder during the winter. You may experience Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) that occurs with the change of the seasons or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which usually begins in late fall and can continue until spring. Individuals who don't normally struggle with depression can also have issues due to a lack of natural light and changes in the body's neurochemical balance.


Understand the signals that tell you when you feel overwhelmed. Doing so can help you recognize when you're not feeling "quite right." It may involve exiting a conversation graciously or leaving work early for the day.

Tip 4: Create a healthy work-life balance.

Independent educational consultants, financial aid professionals and others often have trouble balancing work and personal life due to the nature of their profession. (Many families meet after work and school hours!) However, a healthy balance makes for the best mental health. 


Establish your office hours and put parameters on what you expect to achieve in your business during the holidays. Then stick to those parameters! Of course, you'll always have the odd client who needs to meet at a really weird time, like 9 p.m., but don't allow too many incidents like that to get you bogged down.

Tip 5: Be aware of how others affect you.

We're wired to be with other people, but it's important to understand that certain people may take an emotional toll on you. Engage with people that offer positive vibes all the time, especially during the holidays. You can do this by surrounding yourself with supportive friends, family members and neighbors. Make meaningful connections at all times. Tell yourself that you don't have time for people who don't keep your best interests in mind at all times. Life's too short for toxic people. 

Tip 6: Stay in the here and now.

It's easy to reflect on the past -- the "should have dones" and the "could have dones" may threaten to overwhelm you. Whether you learned that your business didn't perform the way you wanted it to this year, you feared for your personal or professional relationships or something else, focus on what's going on around you. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of the season. Light a candle, cozy up by the fire in a soft blanket and listen to holiday music.


You may also want to consider how you can experience closure. Is there something that you've carried with you that you need to let go of? For example, let's say you seriously regret hiring a friend into your business because you had to later fire her because she took advantage of your friendship. It may hang over your head, particularly if she happened to be going through a tough time financially. It might be time to let these things go.

Tip 7: Exercise daily. 

Ugh, the dreaded gym. Yes, even if it's not your favorite place, don't skip exercise because you think you're too busy during the holiday season. Exercising releases endorphins which may help you handle seasonal stress. After 30 minutes at the gym, you may be able to reprioritize, refocus and realize that you know the exact answer to your problem later on.

Tip 8: Practice gratitude.

On the tails of Thanksgiving, you might have already spent some time thinking about what you're grateful for. Whether you're grateful for your health, your family, your friends, your business -- and those are all great things! -- consider writing them down and reflecting on them daily. This practice can be really great for the soul and can help you hone in on what's really important in your life. 

Tip 9: Put aside your goals -- for now. 

You might be tempted to self-reflect right now. Instead, give yourself some grace. Your personal growth journey can take a hike for right now because the hubbub of the season can take over. Give yourself permission to ignore your imperfections, your "whoops" moments, your messy desk and office and more. Skip the resolutions until the new year. Give yourself ample time to enjoy the holiday season. 

Tip 10: Make time for things you love.

Finally, make plenty of time for things you love to do. If you're struggling to identify some leisure activities or hobbies you love, it might be an indication that you work a lot (or that you love your work -- a great thing!) Take some time to identify the hobbies that are crucial to your well-being. From skiing to reading poetry, you might actively choose to do a number of things on a regular basis, just because they make you feel great.

Get in the Mode of Self Care This Holiday Season

Don't feel like you have time to do any of this? It's easy to say, but try to make time for it all. 


One more thing: Don't always assume that you now have full control over how the holidays go after you tick all the boxes on these things. Take a moment to think about what you can manage and what you need to let go of.


Also, three other crucial elements: eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and spend time laughing. Steer clear of what causes you stress as much as you can. Everyone else is under stress, so if you can be a balm to others with your mannerisms or calmness. 


Finally, don't discount how much you can do within five or 10 minutes to make you feel good.