Hi friends! Merry Christmas from the Flamingo Nest (aka my home) in Miami Beach!

The holidays are such a beautiful and wonderfully complicated time of year. While long held traditions and time with loved ones can warm your heart, let’s be honest, this season can also wreak havoc on your health and mental well-being. Quality time with family can in a moment shift from joyful to stressful and our efforts on behalf of our loved ones can often have us leaving ourselves out of the “loved one” category.


As we each embark on the different activities that make up our own holiday seasons, my simple thought is that in the midst of the busyness and the many pulls on our attention, we find ways to also treat ourselves as a loved one.

Here are 5 practices that I’m learning that can help us all actually enjoy the holidays and enter the new year with a healthy and strong mindset.


Know your boundaries. Stand by them lovingly.

Don’t forget to take time for yourself and if possible, maintain some normalcy by continuing your regular routine. With the many activities and competing priorities of the holiday season it’s easy to slide into someone else’s schedule for your life instead of your own.

Also, we can probably all attest to the fact that even the most wonderful of families love to test your boundaries. There’s always going to be an “Aunt Edna” asking about your relationship status or some other topic you may not be inclined to discuss over the dinner table. Find ways to graciously communicate what you are and are not comfortable discussing. It may be as simple as finding a standard response to those types of questions and a great conversational redirect.

Prioritize exercise and sleep, keep them essential.

Physical activity is key in reducing stress and it also improves mood and concentration and combats depression. Even a simple 10 minute walk a day can brighten your day and leave you feeling energized for whatever to do list you might have in front of you. On top of that, we all know how ‘wonderful” we can be when we don’t have enough sleep. Give yourself a chance to be your best self and get the sleep your body needs.


Don’t eat or drink your feelings.

You might feel subtle or not-so-subtle peer pressure to over indulge in all of the holiday goodies this year. There’s not shame in partaking but pay attention to the cues your body might be giving you. Check in with yourself from time to time to ask whether you are eating because your body is hungry or whether you are eating out of reaction to some form of stress. Remember, you are not a victim to “Aunt Edna’s” Christmas cookies! You can choose to partake, but it’s a choice, and you don’t need to experience shame and guilt for making that choice. Enjoy them! You didn’t fall off an imaginary wagon, you made a choice and you will make other choices in the future.

Allow Space for Grief

The holidays can be an especially difficult season for those who have lost someone dear to them.  Don’t ignore that pain either in yourself or someone else. Make space for it.

Joy and sadness can exist in the very same moment, so leave room for both as much as you need.


Give the gift of present.

  • Instead of a to do list, start your day with an intention. A vision, per se, of who you hope to bless, what you hope to experience and how you will spend the gift of time you have in front of you.

  • Do yourself (and everyone) a favor and put away your phone. Work can wait. Don’t spend hours comparing your holiday to someone else’s on Instagram.  Your festivities don’t have to be picture perfect to be perfect for you.

  • See everything as a “learning” and growth opportunity.  You just burned Christmas dinner? Learn about UberEats.

  • Practice gratitude. Neuroscience research shows that simply thinking about the question, “What am I grateful for?” can increase your levels of dopamine and serotonin. What’s crazy is that you don’t even have to land on an answer to that question. Just asking it will immediately improve your perspective and actually improve your physical and mental state.



Don’t forget to also treat yourself as a loved one this year.

The holidays are an amazing season of giving and love, however we often forget to include ourselves in that equation. It’s so important that you don’t lose sight of your own care in the midst of the busyness and caring for others. What’s more, as you prioritize your own health and well-being, you have a greater reserve of goodness and love to share with those around you.


What are some ways that you practice self-care

during the busy holiday season?

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Photos provided courtesy of Francesca Barnes (@iamfyb)

Hannah MarshComment