Keep it Simple - Holiday Stress Aversion

Winter is such a beautiful time of year - amazing sunsets, holiday lights, warm drinks and festive gatherings are plentiful, but the numerous social obligations can leave a person feeling overwhelmed. It is so important during the holiday season to remember to take time for yourself! “No” is a complete sentence, so when obligations arise that you don’t feel up for, remember it’s ok to decline. Self-care can take a lot of different forms, but some of my favorites are thus:

  • A visit to your closest National Park or Monument (or, really any sort of outdoorsy venture) - this is one of the best ways to be reminded that there are bigger things than just the daily nonsense that we experience and take on throughout our lives. Even if you aren’t a hiker, just breathing the wild air while you read or sit or enjoy a picnic with a view is so important! The National Parks and Monuments are a gift to us all, so I strive to enjoy them as often as possible while we all still can. When I can’t make it to one of the big ones, a mountain drive or walk to a park works wonders too.

  • Face mask/DIY spa day - I actually counted my face masks recently at the joking behest of my partner. I have more than 5 but less than 10 - at least one, maybe two for every skin ailment I experience. One I was told about recently by my friend Katherine is a mixture of bentonite clay and apple cider vinegar - both really inexpensive and simple ingredients. I haven’t tried it yet, but she’s looking especially radiant lately (though admittedly I’ve never seen her as anything less than radiant) so I’m definitely going to add that one into my rotation! (If you need some little bowls for mixing your favorite powdered masks up, I know where you can find some.)

  • Healing warm (or cold) beverages - I’ve been really digging MoodBeli’s ancient tonic botanicals lately - added to a nut milk with a little bit of honey and warmed, it’s heaven in a mug. This post is not at all sponsored by MoodBeli (though we did a trade once - pottery for delicious things to drink from my pottery) - I just love her blends. If you’re not into herbal supplements, of course a good cup of coffee or tea (arguably, both herbal supplements anyway) is just as good for the soul. If you need a drink that packs a cold-fighting punch, my favorite is: fresh ginger, fresh turmeric, black pepper, juice from one lemon, a spoonful of honey, and a tiiiny dash of cayenne. My go-to ways to enjoy this are to; A) throw all ingredients in a blender with some coconut water, blend and strain, enjoy - or B) throw all ingredients in a pot and simmer with either water or coconut milk until the liquid is a delicious goldenrod color, then ladle into a mug and enjoy! Turmeric and ginger are SO good for helping out the immune system during times of stress.

  • Make your own gifts - Whatever your crafty drug of choice, any time you can sit down and zen out with some good music and some art supplies is time well spent. Handmade gifts are the best, often the most thoughtful, and certainly the most unique. If you don’t consider yourself the crafty type (PS everyone is the crafty type if they just find their niche) there are other options - I bought glass coaster photo frame blanks from the craft store one year, inserted photos into them and gifted them to my family. I still see those coasters prominently displayed and in use at their houses, and that was at least 10 years ago! Another fun one is to buy some booze and infuse fruit or herbs into it, then pour it into some pretty glass bottles and gift away. Some of my favorite combos I’ve done in the past: jalapeno tequila (remove the seeds or don’t let it steep for more than like, a day or it will burn your face off and “strip the paint” from your insides), blueberry gin, or herbal teas in vodka. Smear on a face mask while you get creative and you’re killing two birds with one stone.

  • House cleaning - When you’re in crisis mode it can be real hard to tackle, but once you’re done it’s so nice to sit back and enjoy the serene space you’ve just created! Also, again, this is a prime activity for doing double-duty with a face mask. You can probably tell by now why I own so many different varieties, ha.

  • An evening walk (or drive) to check out holiday lights - Nothing puts me in the festive holiday appreciation zone quite like seeing all the holiday decorations.

  • Waking up early to enjoy an extra cup of coffee while wrapped in blankets before you start your day - Read, journal, plan your day or your next trip, whatever - I try to stay off my phone during these precious early hours, but to each their own. Oh yeah you can probably do a face mask while doing this, too. Self care, people, that’s the name of the game.

  • Support your favorite causes - This is the most important one. There are so many worthwhile charities out there who do great work and it only takes a few minutes to find one that speaks to you. Do your research (maybe while you’re enjoying your early-morning coffee and face mask?), donate money if you can, donate your time through volunteering if you don’t have the money - and if you’re short on both money and time, just get the word out via social media - that helps, too! Participating in something bigger than yourself will help put some of your outside stresses into perspective. Some of my favorite causes: Mojave Desert Land Trust, Joshua Tree National Park Association, National Parks Conservation Association, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, just to name a few.

When I can’t really muster the energy for any of these, I’m a big fan of making lists of what I would like to accomplish and by when. Remember to take a breath, take small steps, or reevaluate your priorities when it all gets to be too much.

What about you? What are your favorite ways to chill TF out when you feel pulled in a million directions?