Survive the Holidays by Squirreling Away Your Self-Care

Welcome to the holiday whirlwind! I’m already feeling like I need a weekend yoga retreat to get back on track—too much eating, not enough moving, not enough sitting still—and the full-court holiday press has even begun yet.

With all the hubbub of the season, you likely won’t have many opportunities to fully immerse yourself in whatever your self-care practice is, whether it’s hitting the gym, going for walks, meditating, or getting to yoga class. But that doesn’t mean you have to forego your health- and sanity-promoting activities altogether. To get the inspiration you need to stay on your particular path, just look to the squirrel.

There is no such thing as a proper meal for squirrels during the wintertime. They get by on eating a teeny little nut here and there. They are a great inspiration for how to take care of yourself during the holidays—take whatever little tidbits you can find and trust that they will carry you through until you’ve got the opportunity to gorge on long, luxurious sessions of self-care again.

It’s all too tempting to have an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to taking care of yourself. One missed day of your healthy endeavors makes it that much more likely that you’ll skip them the next day and the next day and the next. Avoid the tendency to think “There’s no hope for staying healthy now – pass the pie. I’ll deal with the fallout in January.” Because even little bits of sanity-saving self-care can help you make wiser decisions, meaning you’ll be more apt to gain two pounds instead of ten, for example.

On those days life unexpectedly eats in to your self-care time, find ways to squirrel little pieces of your practice away – five deep breaths before you get out of the car to come inside, a 10-minute walk before you eat lunch, one delicious restorative stretch in bed before you turn out the light. Granted, these little amounts aren’t enough to move your practice forward, but think of them as a bookmark—they’ll hold your place for you and keep you from having to backtrack when you are ready to re-dedicate yourself to your taking excellent care of yourself again. (I also wrote about this “placeholder” phenomenon earlier in the summer in the Vegimental titled “Keeping the Flame Alive.”)

What’s your holiday sanity plan?
Share your tips by leaving a comment, and if I publish yours in the next newsletter, you will win such a treat. Fellow reader, Valerie Grandury, is the founder of Odacite, an organic skincare company that makes all its products to order so they are as fresh as they can possibly be. And she’s giving this week’s winner a full regimen of anti-aging skin care products (known as Elegance). It’s an over $400 retail value. So, start sharing your tips already! You could win a supremely yummy holiday gift for yourself.

Congrats to Joselle!
She shared her tip for how she gets her digestion going each morning, and she won a copy of the DVD Barefoot Cardio, the new fitness DVD from mind-body fitness maven Ellen Barrett. Here’s her tip:

“Nothing has better clarified the connection between movement and having a movement than living with my newly adopted dog, Benji. After my morning cup of tea, I take him for a long, vigorous walk and that gets him to relieve himself quickly and smoothly. By the time we return home, it’s my turn to go! Regular walking keeps me regular.”

Give the people you love a chill pill

My book, The Anywhere, Anytime Chill Guide, makes a great gift—it’s cute, cheap, and oh-so-helpful–and I’m selling signed copies here. With natural solutions to 77 modern stressful situations, the book gives people of all ages and fitness levels a wide range of self-care tools they can use to reduce stress—even in the midst of the messiest, most million-mile-an-hour day. Buy a bunch and they get even cheaper!

Take care and keep breathing,


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10 thoughts on “Survive the Holidays by Squirreling Away Your Self-Care

  1. Obey the toddler! I’m home full time with my almost two-year-old, and we’re starting up a family business, so self-care time is really limited! Our baby loves to jump and climb on us when we get down on the floor to do yoga stretches in the morning, and now she knows how to say “…you. Down. Mat.” So we allow her to be our personal trainer and yogi, and take a stretching break whenever she requests it during the day. It’s not easy to say yes and interrupt whatever tasks we are racing to accomplish, but when we do take those two minutes to follow the baby in chatauranga, downward dog and cat/cow rides, the day seems longer, the work lighter, and the toddler infinitely happier.

  2. The holidays are really crazy with work, baking, shopping, wrapping, it doesn’t end, but I take an hour once a week to do yoga, or a bath at night. It really helps to have timeto do nothing and think about nothing. Another great way to destress is to go out for an hour or two with friends and have a drink and some laughs. I hope this helps anyone who really needs it! Happy Holidays to all.

  3. I always meditate in the morning – even if only for 10 minutes. I’ve been able to continue to walk regularly (I live in CA) also. I just make time for it – no matter what. I end up gaining time because I’m not so stressed, and I’m able to keep my energy. If I don’t do these things, I end up an emotional basket case!!

  4. During this hectic season, I take time to read something in a quiet space for at least fifteen minutes each day. It works wonders. Though it’s a short amount time, it gives me the sense that I have accomplished something (however small) and that I have stuck to a schedule.

  5. I love all these ideas. Toddlers can be quite the taskmasters, can’t they Christina? And Mary Beth, you’re so right, sometimes all it takes is 15 quiet minutes doing something you love–doesn’t necessarily need to be a formal self-care practice. Angelina, yoga, baths, and drinks with girlfriends are three of my favorite activities! And Ray, totally hear you about being an emotional basket case if you don’t do the things that make you feel better. Just the other day my husband said, would you go do some yoga or take a walk or something?? I want my wife back. 🙂 Thanks for contributing, everyone! — Kate

  6. I strive to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes each time, but it almost never happens. When I do manage to get in 2 session it usually cares me for a day or two. I do, however, manage to get in one session of 10 minutes at least once a day. I also try to sneak yoga poses and stretching into my daily life, like watching TV in pigeon pose or pausing using a doorway to stretch my chest out when I walk through. People might look at you like you’re a bit crazy, but we’re all crazy during the holidays, right? But what really helps is a brisk walk in cold weather – I live in Salt Lake City, so that’s easy. Even a 20 minute walk while bundled up really helps bring me back to center; I focus on breathing in my nose and out my mouth.

  7. Much like Mary beth’s idea, I like to incorporate, practicing yoga or stretching (on the floor) while reading your favorite book or article! I usually do it in my steamy bathroom after a shower! Even 15 minutes calms me down and gets me ready to sleep or my teaching day!

  8. I’ve taken to putting my vitamin pill dispenser in my underwear drawer. It is the one place that I know I’ll be going to in the morning while being awake enough to take the supplements.
    I also do my deep breathing while the computer fires up or when it takes a long time to do what I ask, which used to be a time of impatience for me but now is a lovely grounding. And I agree that a few minutes of bedtime reading is a wonderful way to clear the mind of daily concerns and just enter into someone else’s world. Most books, esp mysteries, tend to have a resolution at the end, so I can actually relax knowing it will all get worked out without my help. This lets me doze off after about 15 minutes.
    Now to work on some of the bigger issues.

  9. Pretty godly post. I principled stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I from really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any motion I’ ll be subscribing to your feed and I confidence you post again soon.

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