Self-Care for the Holidays

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We all know how stressful the holidays can be.  And, when you're dealing with mental health issues or chronic illness, they can be even tougher. If you need a little extra help, you’re in luck! I spoke to Lene Anderson, author of Chronic Christmas: Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness who says that it's especially important for people with invisible illnesses to practice self-care throughout the month of December to ensure that they have enough energy reserves to get everything done on their list and to avoid crashing and not be able to enjoy the big day.   In this post, Lene provides her tips for great self-care over the holiday season.


If you're someone who constantly tried to do too much over the holiday season, Lene stresses the importance of self-care. She suggests taking a day off and doing nothing but drinking tea, napping, and maybe taking a walk.  She acknowledges that it'll be tricky for the first few hours as you feel unproductive, but that if you're able to stick with it, it will get easier.  Eventually, you should be able to think more clearly about what is truly a priority in your heart, and where you really want to spend the time and energy you do have.  Lene stresses that you can't help other people - or put together a holiday celebration - if you don't help yourself first.

Lene also points out that holiday gatherings can be really draining for someone with chronic illness or mental health issues, which can be really stressful and guilt-inducing as you want to enjoy everything and spend time with your friends and family..  She suggests chatting with friends over Skype or the phone, because it's easy to say goodbye when you've had enough.  She also suggests working towards talking to having an honest conversation with friends and family about your limits, so you're able to enjoy holiday gatherings without feeling overwhelmed.



Lene's self-care ideas allow you to practice showing compassion to yourself and getting some rest while still enjoying all the season has to offer.  Try:


Let yourself sleep in an extra hour: Allow yourself a little extra time for rest one morning.  Set your alarm an hour later, and allow yourself to soak an extra hour of sleep.  Can't sleep in?  Lounge around in bed for an extra hour, meditating or reading a good book.

Curl up on the couch: Grab your favourite seasonal hot drink like peppermint hot chocolate or a gingerbread latte and put on your favourite feel-good holiday movie.

Quiet Time: If you find yourself needing a little quiet time, why not enjoy the holidays at the same time?  Listen to some soft Christmas music, light some candles, and turn on any Christmas lights while you sit.  If you're having trouble sitting still, grab a holiday colouring book and get creative while you sit.

Have a PJ Day! Declare a family pajama day: stay in your PJ's all day, don't go anywhere, and order in pizza for dinner. 

Get a massage: Make an appointment at your local spa for a massage; many spas also often offer holiday specials, which you can take advantage of to treat yourself.  Not only will you have a special time to relax, but the massage will also help to relax tense muscles, which is helpful if you have chronic pain or tend to get tight when you're stressed.



 While we often think of the holidays as being a time to give back to others, it's also a time where you can be giving back to yourself, too.  Rather than making a list of all the things you "have" to get done during this season, try to make a list of the things that you would truly enjoy to do, like playing a board game with your family, going on a Christmas light drive, or making a favourite family holiday cookie recipe with your kids.  There's also no shame in picking up a gift for yourself while you're out shopping! Our Self-Care Gift Guide has a selection of gifts that are perfect for gifting to yourself.  

Visit Lene Anderson at 

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