Holidays can be complicated and it’s okay if you’re struggling to feel “merry and bright”. It’s been a difficult couple of years and we’re all doing our best to try and figure out what this season should look like. It’s completely understandable to be both grateful and overwhelmed right now. 

The truth is that the most wonderful time of year can also be quite stressful. Maybe you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or are still uncertain about large gatherings. Or maybe your calendar and to-do list are already stacking up with obligations. For real, when is there even time to bake that pie or buy those gifts? 

Okay, take a deep breath and let us help you take care of yourself through it all. Traditions like gathering for large meals or swapping gifts on Christmas morning are wonderful, but what about establishing low-key festive rituals that are just for you? 

Prioritizing moments of self-care throughout the holidays can make a huge difference in how you feel. So, as soon as you hear Mariah Carey’s voice or see the first twinkle of a holiday light (is it too soon?), take it as your cue to establish a self-care action plan.  Here are a few of our favorites that you can try out this season and, if they work for you, you can return to them each year. 

Self-care practices just for you 


  • Create a walking ritual. This isn’t about getting in a certain amount of steps or reaching a particular destination. This walking tradition is just about bundling up and connecting with yourself and nature. Maybe you wake up and get outside first thing on a holiday morning to clear your head. Or maybe you invite loved ones to walk with you after a big meal. Maybe you want to leave your headphones at home and do something to keep you in the present moment like collecting pine cones along the way, counting the different types of birds you see, or stopping to admire window displays. Feeling the fresh air on your face and simply noticing things like the falling leaves can help to lower your stress levels and boost your mood.


  • Write a letter to yourself. Take a little time to reflect on what you’ve been through over the course of the year. Include the highs and lows, the special memories, the things you’ve overcome, and all that you’re grateful for. Don’t worry about sounding prolific or maintaining perfect grammar. This is just a letter for you, so tuck it away in a special spot each year and revisit anytime you need a reminder of your resilience. 


  • Put some “me time” on your calendar. If you’re able to take some time off work and your additional responsibilities around the holidays, resist the urge to pack your schedule full of obligations. Block off whatever amount of time you can — an hour, an afternoon, or an entire day — and use this time to do something that helps you to feel grounded and joyful. Maybe you paint, get a massage, cozy up and read your favorite book, cook a special meal for yourself, or call a friend that you’ve lost touch with. Use this time to do what you want to do instead of what you should do.


  • Select a self-care buddy. Find a trusted friend or family member that you can check in with over the course of the holidays. Offer to provide support in whatever area they may be struggling with and ask them to do the same for you. Maybe this is someone you text when you’re having a tough time setting a boundary with a family member or someone to call when you’re feeling lonely. Connecting with another person during this chaotic time is a loving way to remind yourself that you’re not alone in it all.


  • Gift yourself one special thing. This isn’t Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list. We’re not talking about shelling out tons of cash on luxury items, like jewelry or cashmere. This is about selecting one special thing to give to yourself purely out of self-love. This could be a plant, a meal that you’ve cooked, a stone that you find on your walk, a candle, or a bouquet of wildflowers that you pick outside. Anything that puts a smile on your face, but doesn’t add to the stress of your shopping list.


  • Take a technology break. Most of us are so tethered to our phones throughout the year, so the holidays can be a good time to recalibrate and reset. Maybe this is a time you can try putting your phone away at the dinner table or taking a social media break so that you don’t compare your holiday to everyone else’s highlight reel. Putting down our addictive devices during this time of year can help us to be more mindful of the magic that surrounds us.


  • Visit one place that you love. Think of one place that fills you with joy or inspires you? We’re not saying you need to run away to the Italian countryside. Think local, like your favorite coffee shop, a yoga class, a community garden, or your best friend’s house. The holidays can be so discombobulating, pulling us out of our daily routines and away from creature comforts. Think of one place that makes you feel grounded and, if possible, carve out a little time to go spend a moment in that space. Maybe you return here each holiday season, or you pick a different place each year. 

Taking care of yourself over the holidays doesn’t require lavish indulgences and you certainly don’t have to do it perfectly. It’s all about realistically carving out space and time to focus on yourself and what you need in the moment. The next time you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed by it all, take a moment to care for yourself because you deserve to be at the top of your list this holiday season.

By Katie Nave, Copywriter at Sanvello 

Katie is a writer and mental health advocate living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured in publications including Newsweek, Glamour, Business Insider, and Motherly. She has served as a producer for the National Women’s March and worked with organizations like Girls Inc. and CancerCare. She is currently the Copywriter at Sanvello and you can follow her on Instagram: @kathryn.e.nave.