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How to Sneak in Some Self-Care During the Holidays

A woman meditating next to a Christmas tree.

The holidays can be a difficult time to maintain a regular schedule, let alone a self-care routine. Still, it’s probably more important than ever to look after yourself when you’re visiting with family. Not only can it prevent your stress levels from going through the roof, but it can also help you manage your relationships.

While sinking into a long, hot bath wearing a cucumber-aloe face mask might not be possible when your whole family is sitting in your living room, you can still sneak in some “you time.” Here are a few ways to snatch some much-needed self-care moments during the holidays.


If meditation is a regular part of your routine, don’t neglect it just because your family is there. You might need to shift some things around to fit it in more comfortably, but try to keep it up. If you interrupt your regular routine, it” just be harder to go back to it after the holidays.

One way to do this is by getting up earlier than everyone else and finding a quiet place in your home. If you don’t have time to do a full 30-minute session, just close your eyes for a moment, tune into your breathing, and just relax for 10 or 15 minutes.

BuddHiFy would be a good app to have on your phone this time of year, as it has guided meditations ranging from four to 40 minutes. This way, you can find one you have just the right amount of time to work in before everyone wakes up. If it’s too crowded indoors and it’s not too cold, head outdoors for a walking meditation.

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Keeping your peace is really important, especially in situations when 10 people are talking over each other during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. If you stick with your mediation routine, you’ll likely find you can be the calm amidst the holiday storm.

Take a Break

A woman relaxing in a chair and sipping from a mug while reading.
Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock.com

No one is meant to constantly be in action, without ever taking a moment to rest. Still, when family comes to town, that’s exactly what the majority of us do. It seems like there’s always somewhere else we need to be, an errand to run, or a meal to prepare. There’s barely time to catch your breath, let alone sit quietly somewhere and relax.

Being on the go the whole time elevates the risk of burnout, and, in turn, increases your chances of getting irritated if someone pushes your buttons. That’s why it’s important to schedule some alone time for yourself. It’ll help you remain calm and recharge.

Again, if it’s not too frigid out, take a short walk around the neighborhood or head to the nearest park and sit on a bench for a minute. If you journal, take it with you and jot down your thoughts, listen to a podcast, or read a chapter or two in a book. You’ll be surprised how quickly just getting some fresh air can restore you.

If it’s too cold for a walk, go for a drive instead. Listen to some soothing music and take some deep breaths as you enjoy your break.

Or, when everyone else is busy with a board game or watching a movie, let everyone know you’re going to take a quick nap. This can be especially helpful if you got up particularly early that day, as it’ll refresh you for the evening festivities.

Stepping away for a bit isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it can be a real game changer when it comes to refreshing yourself or taking a breather from more challenging relationships.

Do Something Fun Together

Three people holding on to each other while ice skating.
Pavel Ilyukhin/Shutterstock.com

If everyone could use a break from sitting around the house, propose that you all go and do something fun as a family. Chances are, it’ll lift everyone’s spirits and reduce the risk of getting on each other’s nerves.

Choose something you know everyone (or most) will enjoy and organize a day of adventure. Consider some of the following options:

  • An amusement park
  • Sightseeing
  • Botanical gardens
  • A local festival
  • A farmer’s market
  • An escape room
  • The movies
  • Ice skating

Anything that invokes joy and laughter will do the trick. As a bonus, by the time you get home, everyone will be so exhausted, they might not even have the energy to be annoying!

Keep Up with Your Workouts

Again, it’s not easy to keep up with everything in your regular routine when your daily schedule gets turned upside down. However, make it your mission to keep up with your weekly workouts, even if you have to take an 8 a.m. class instead of your regular afternoon session.

Doing so will not only prevent you from interrupting your progress, but it’ll also help you feel less guilty about indulging in all those holiday goodies. It also gives you another opportunity to have some alone time.

Remain in Charge of the Schedule

Take some time to organize and prioritize the schedule before your family arrives. Plan who’s doing what, when, and leave no room for “interpretation.” If you don’t, it’s all too easy to get caught in a web of being dragged around doing what others want to do the whole time. That’s why it helps to make plans, set boundaries, and even create some “house rules” if necessary.

When families get together, roles can sometimes become blurred or even reversed, but it doesn’t have to disrupt the whole holiday. If you set some ground rules from the start and have some firm plans, it’ll help everyone stay on track.

Enjoy the Present

A family eating Christmas dinner.
Impact Photography/Shutterstock.com

At the end of the day, having your family in town means you get to spend some quality time with them. Living far away from your relatives can be difficult during the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. For many, this holiday season might be the first time you’ve seen many folks in quite some time.

Use the precious time you have to reconnect. Engage in conversation, share lots of laughter, and create new memories. Once they leave, you’ll be back to your regular program with the ability to arrange your schedule any way you want.

For now, just enjoy the moments as they come and be grateful for them—even when someone’s seriously getting on your nerves.

When family comes to visit, the only person we seem to neglect is ourselves. But with a bit of planning and taking advantage of opportunities to recharge as they arise, you’ll be able to take care of yourself and everyone else.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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