7 Self-Care Tips That Every Parent Should Adopt This Holiday Season

We’ve survived the spooky season only to be catapulted into the official start of the holidays. And if I’m being honest, I already feel on the edge of burnout. Maybe it’s the first cold of the season or the multiple Thanksgivings we attended (not to mention all the holiday travel details still left to coordinate). In any case, I’m reminded that to make it to the end of the year without losing my cool, I need to implement some personal self-care. I imagine there are plenty of other parents feeling the same way, so I’m her with 7 self-care tips for parents heading into the holiday season.

Featured image from our interview with Ariel Kaye by Teal Thomsen.

7 Self-Care Tips for Parents During the Holiday Season

While self-care practices are important all throughout the year, it’s the piling on of parties, plans, and presents to be bought and wrapped that can wear us down during the holidays. What’s more, as parents of little ones, it’s up to us to make the season magical. That means a lot of effort goes into decking the halls and playing Santa. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I get it. And that’s where these self-care tips for parents come in handy.

Ahead, I’m sharing not only my ideas to carve out some peace and quiet, but also why these practices are essential—plus tips for incorporating them into your life. Let’s make it happen.

Prioritize Your Needs

One of the best self-care tips for parents I can give you is to prioritize your needs over anyone else’s. And no, it’s not selfish! Prioritizing your needs ensures you have the energy and emotional well-being to care for your family effectively.

If there is anything on your list that doesn’t bring you joy, consider removing it.

Make a list of your needs and schedule time for self-care activities. Communicate your needs with your partner, friends, and family. And be sure to ask for support when you need it. If there is anything on your list that doesn’t bring you joy, consider removing it. I mean it: allow yourself to do less!

Set Realistic Expectations

Unrealistic expectations can lead to stress and disappointment. Realistic expectations can help you maintain a sense of balance. Reflect on past holiday seasons and set achievable goals. Be open to reevaluating things that may have felt stressful in years past. Practice flexibility and be open to adjustments as needed. Is attending a seven-course meal with toddlers doable? Do you want to mail and address one hundred holiday cards? Check in with yourself and ask how realistic this is. And be honest: are you taking on too much?

Image by Belathée Photography

Practice Mindfulness

It’s all too easy to get swept up in the busyness of the holidays, putting ourselves on auto-pilot as we power through everything we need to do. This year, I challenge you to practice mindfulness before diving into it all. Mindfulness techniques can reduce stress, improve focus, and help you stay present in the moment.

Set aside a few minutes each day for mindfulness exercises. Create a vision board or visualize how you want to feel during the holidays: peaceful, present, and loved by family and friends. When you can give yourself the time to focus on what truly matters, it’s easier to let go of anything that isn’t serving you.

Less Screen Time, More Real Connections

Reducing screen time promotes face-to-face interactions and healthier family bonding. Set screen time limits for both yourself and your children. Use the extra time for quality family activities or relaxation. Social media often presents a polished highlight reel for most people. During the holidays, this effect can be even more pronounced, with everyone posting pictures of perfect trees, family photos, or matching pajama sets.

For some of us, the pressure to do it all can feel overwhelming and disheartening. If social media is making you feel inadequate, consider taking a break. (We dive into the importance and step-by-step details of taking a holiday social media detox.) Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Instead, reach out to friends and family who understand your challenges and values. They can provide emotional support and connection through calls, texts, or video chats.

Image by Emma Bassill

Stay Active

Regular exercise is a potent stress reliever and mood enhancer, yet it often gets pushed aside, especially when we have guests in town or when our kids are home from school.  Instead, continue your fitness routine or explore creative ways to stay active, like family walks, dance parties, or holiday-themed workouts.

Did you know that exercising may reduce your bad mental health days by 40%?  In my family, we are big fans of healthy competition, from pickleball matches to relay races involving the entire family, which can help reduce everyone’s stress levels. There’s also nothing wrong with carving out some alone time to stick to your exercise routine. Modeling self-care for your children will only help reinforce the importance of it for themselves. Get started with our favorite workouts.

Practice Good Sleep Habits

I’ll be the first to admit that I often stay up late during the holidays to get things done while my kids are sleeping. While checking off items on my to-do list in silence can be enjoyable, it can lead to rough mornings and long days. Add holiday parties that keep you out late and occasional holiday alcohol consumption, and you might find yourself navigating the holidays with a sleep deficit.

Lack of sleep is no joke. Anxiety and sleep deprivation have been proven to go hand-in-hand. Self-care starts with good sleep habits. Make sure you’re getting a full eight hours of rest. Consider limiting your alcohol intake to ensure sound sleep, and don’t forget the power of a 20-minute power nap. If you struggle to fall asleep, try implementing some healthy sleep habits.

Make Space for Emotions

While some of us feel like it’s the happiest time of the year, others may feel sad or depressed during the holidays. Regardless of which emotions the holidays evoke, it’s important to make time to reflect on and embrace them as they come up. This can involve a gratitude practice or picking up the phone to share your feelings with someone. If you find yourself feeling lonely during the holidays, make a plan to get yourself out of the house and into the community. There are numerous opportunities to get involved during this time of year.

The Takeaway

By understanding the importance of these self-care practices and integrating them into your daily routine, you can navigate the holiday season more smoothly and savor the precious moments with your family. I hope you can incorporate these self-care tips for parents into your life and make the most of your time with family! Happy holiday season, everyone!

7 Habits of Encouraging People You Can Adopt Today

Knowing how to encourage someone is my brand. (And apparently, I’m on trend—2023 has been called “the year of the hype women.”) I’m a hype girl at heart. It’s important for me to call out and celebrate when people in my life—coworkers, friends, family—do something amazing, noteworthy, and truly… just cool! (And even if it’s a seemingly normal, run-of-the-mill accomplishment: hype. it. up.) As someone who’s been bogged down by negative self-talk in the past, I know: the best thing we can do for our communities is lift each other up, one encouraging word at a time.

Because here’s the truth: In this world that can be difficult and unforgiving at times, we’re all simply doing our best. We’re each navigating our own challenges, and one of the most transformative things we can be reminded of is the truth that we’re not alone.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Michelle Nash

How to Encourage Someone: 7 Effective Tips

If you’re looking to spread a little kindness, remind those you love of their wonderful qualities, and simply make the world a more supportive and hopeful place (yes, the power of encouragement knows no bounds), read on. Ahead, discover tips and opportunities to hype up the people in your life—plus why it’s important to recognize the good in all that we do.

1. Check In With Yourself First

It’s true what they say: You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you’re in a position of trying to encourage someone, it’s important to make sure you’re in a good place to do so. In the moment, this can look like journaling out your emotions to gain a better understanding of your current headspace. If you’re feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, or stressed by work, it’ll be beneficial to both parties for you to share encouragement from a distance. Rather than committing to a lengthy conversation, send a card, a text, or an email simply knowing that you see them, you’re cheering them on, and you’ll be there for them when you’re ready.

Additionally, this is where self-care comes into play, proving all the more that the adage rings true: self-care isn’t selfish. We do the things that feel supportive and energizing for ourselves so that we can show up most aligned and engaged. Identify three things you can do each day to make you feel like yourself. That could be reading for 10 minutes, taking a brief walk, and making a nourishing meal. Whatever supports you, prioritize exactly that.

People watch and learn from how we treat ourselves, so be sure to always start with kindness and self-compassion.

From there, start by modeling encouraging behaviors and language. Applaud yourself when something goes right and practice patience when you do something wrong. People watch and learn from how we treat ourselves, so be sure to always start with kindness and self-compassion.

2. Celebrate the Small Wins

When it comes to knowing how to encourage someone, this is one of my favorite tips. While we may think that we have to wait until the life-changing milestones hit to be able to hype someone up, it’s actually in the small, everyday accomplishments and achievements that our praise and encouragement matter most.

It’s because the power of recognition can completely transform how someone thinks of themselves. The little things we do—whether it’s appreciating someone’s ability to overcome obstacles in unseen ways or applauding their behind-the-scenes efforts that don’t get factored into the final product—add up. (How you do anything is how you do everything.) So when we consistently make small efforts trusting that we’re seen and appreciated, it can be enough to continuously spark motivation and build momentum in profound ways.

Some ways you can celebrate the small wins include:

  • Send a co-worker a Slack congratulating them on completing a weeks-long project.
  • Applaud a friend for being present in your conversation.
  • Notice how someone creatively expresses themselves.
  • Tell a sibling how inspired you are by how they prioritize their hobbies.
Image by Belathée Photography

3. Practice Effective Listening

Three words: always be present. When it comes to being there for someone—motivating them and lifting them up—your ability to do so effectively comes down to empathy. Effective listening looks like:

  • Body language that communicates presence. Turn toward them, make eye contact, and provide non-verbal cues like head nodding to show them you care and are curious.
  • Ask questions. Without speaking over them, ask questions that can provide guidance and shape to the internal conflict they’re reflecting on. An effective listener encourages self-reflection.
  • Listen without judgment. Your goal is to create space for what’s being said. Rather than influence the conversation’s trajectory, it’s important to allow the person to come to their own conclusions, while still providing encouragement and positivity. It’s a careful balance, but one that’s crucial to master.

4. Express Gratitude

The truth is, we don’t encourage someone just to encourage someone. Yes, offering hype and excitement can be a selfless act, but more often than not, that person’s actions positively impact you. Whether they make you happier or inspire you to grow, posit that encouragement in a statement of gratitude. Some examples can include:

  • I’m grateful for the way you always know how to make me laugh.
  • I’m so thankful for your capacity for introspection because it helps me reflect and ask how I can improve myself.
  • I’m inspired by how your leadership keeps our team on task and motivated.
Image by Michelle Nash

5. Make It a Habit

The more consistent we are with encouraging others, the easier it becomes to make it a natural, habitual part of our routine. Isn’t it funny how, because we’re often afraid to share how we feel, encouragement may seem awkward or uncomfortable at first? When it comes to encouraging someone, I like to live by the rule that when you notice something, say something.

I’ll admit: I’m a shy, introverted person. I’m much more comfortable keeping to myself than going out of my way to strike up a conversation with someone I don’t know well. And no matter how you see yourself, this is often true for most people. We’d rather move throughout our lives without straying from routine. But when we make encouraging others an everyday, consistent ritual, it becomes a part of our identity, and therefore, all the easier to implement.

If you like someone’s outfit, let them know! Or perhaps you admired their grace and composure in their presentation. Maybe it’s as simple as telling your barista that your morning cappuccino is always *chef’s kiss.* Remember: when you notice something, say something.

6. Be Honest and Authentic

What’s the difference between flattery and actual praise? The latter is excessive and insincere, whereas true encouragement is honest and authentic. Trust me: When you’re complimenting someone to further your own interests (or simply to feel better about yourself), it comes through—and people will know.

Part of the benefit of orienting your life toward encouragement is that you begin to notice opportunities for it wherever you go. When you make it a habit (see above), you begin to feel grateful for the small ways people positively impact you and how their presence alone is a gift. So be honest with yourself and others, and authentically, truthfully, and positively lift them up.

7. Remember: It Always Makes a Difference

I used to think, They wouldn’t care if I told them how much their work meant to me. Or, It’s weird if I tell them how inspiring I find their content on social media. I’ll leave you with these parting words: encouragement never goes unnoticed. So share the compliment with the stranger. Send a kind Slack to your co-worker. Write a loving note to your partner and slip it in their work bag. With each word of kindness and support, we build a more caring and compassionate community around us.