Do I love spending time with my family during the holidays? Absolutely. Do I love giving thoughtful gifts to the people I care about? More than anything. But I’d be lying if I said I could do all that during the holiday season without being very protective of my self care time! Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s not actually possible for me to show up 100% for my loved ones if I don’t show up 100% for myself when I need it. Self care for women (especially artists!) is really an essential part of the holiday season that doesn’t get talked about enough! I hope these tips can help you find a little more peace over the next few weeks and that you remember to take time for yourself.
Self Care for the Holidays
Why is self care so important for the holidays? At a time when we are so focused on making the season bright for our families and friends it can be easy to forget our own needs. In fact, I’d even say that it’s subtly encouraged for women and artists to set aside their needs in order to focus on ensuring that everyone else is happy! We deserve to enjoy the season as much as anyone else, but we can’t do that if we push ourselves to exhaustion trying to fulfill holiday orders, bake cookies, hang decorations, shop for gifts, cook meals, send cards, and coordinate the holiday gatherings.
Self Care is Necessary for Artists
The other piece of the self care puzzle is this: self care is just as good for your emotional well-being as it is for your art. We artists simply cannot create our best work if we are pushed to the point of exhaustion. A blank canvas should inspire you, not drain you or stress you out! If you find the idea of painting something less exciting or enjoyable than normal, it’s probably a sign that you need to schedule some serious self care time.
Self Care Ideas
I’ll be honest: if you’re looking for scented candle recommendations then this is not the list for you. Those things are lovely, but they don’t address the true purpose of self care: actually caring for your whole self. A bubble bath is nice and all, but it doesn’t restore you if you spend the whole time thinking about the to-do list that’s waiting for you when you get out.
Below, you’ll find a list of self care ideas that will help you avoid burnout, enjoy time with your family, and stress a little less this holiday season.
Celebrate Small Wins
There are a million different things we have to check off our lists this time of year, so I suggest celebrating every single one of them! Checked someone off your list? Time for a warm beverage! Put some cookies in the oven? Dance break! Shipped off an order? Take a nap, you earned it!
Self care doesn’t have to mean things, it can simply mean recognizing all of the effort you put into life… Even if the effort was just getting out of bed.
Not all of us can be extroverts! If you find yourself drained by all the “peopleing” that happens around the holidays then you had better schedule some quiet time to do absolutely nothing at all! Read, meditate, or just sit under a warm blanket with a cup of tea and enjoy the silence.
Create Something Just for Fun
Whether you’re an artist who has been painting holiday orders for the past four months or just feeling a little overwhelmed, arts and crafts are a great way to exercise your creative muscles without the pressure of gifting or sales. Take some time to make something that is just for fun! I like to finger paint when I’m feeling drained (learn more about my finger painting group, Creativity At Your Fingertips!) but you could color in a coloring book, doodle on a notepad, sketch, knit, or whatever else strikes your fancy. Try to get back to a state of childlike joy while you make a mess with color.
Yes, even if it’s cold out. Time spent outdoors is always good for us, especially in the cold! Walking in nature has been proven to help with anxiety and depression; even being outside for a few minutes can reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Take the dog out and listen to your favorite podcast (Paint Talks’s Podcast, of course), go walking with a friend, or bring your cup of coffee out onto the front stoop for a natural mood boost.
Write it Out
Jot it on a notepad, type your thoughts into a notes app, get a journal — do whatever feels most comfortable for you but remember to WRITE IT ALL OUT. The fabulous artist and author Julia Cameron talks about morning pages in her book The Artist’s Way (we read that in the Better Self Book Club last summer!) as a way to get all the thoughts out of your head first thing in the morning. Don’t worry too much about what you’re writing, just let it all out.
If you do need a place to start, I have always found that beginning with gratitude starts my day on the right foot. I like to make a list of all the things I’m grateful for because it reminds me why I’m doing all the things that need to get done.
Move Your Body
Get your groove on, sis! Nothing chases away the holiday overwhelm like a little self care in the form of booty shaking! Put on your favorite music (Christmas or otherwise) and just let your body move in whatever way feels natural — don’t worry about what you look like, just wiggle and jiggle and shake your way to a better mood! I loved to do this with my boys when they were little (they think they’re too cool to dance with mom these days) and to this day I still turn the music up and let it all out when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
Connect With a Friend
Go the opposite direction of a solo date and meet a friend for coffee! Sometimes just hanging out with people who don’t need anything from us can feel like a vacation from all our responsibilities. Grab lunch, a coffee, or see a movie with someone who makes you smile just by being around them. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the pick-me-up, too!
Take yourself out to do something you love! Julia Cameron calls it an “artist date” but I think it’s something that everyone should practice! Spend some time alone to do something that inspires you, whether it’s reading a book in a warm coffee shop or visiting the museum, this is your sign to go do the things you’ve been wanting to do just because you deserve to do them.
I know, I know – saying “no” sounds a whole lot easier than it is but if there’s anything I’ve learned over the years it is this: we are all going to drop the ball from time to time. The key is knowing how many balls you can realistically take on before you start to lose your grip. Saying “no” to one thing could also mean saying yes to something you’re more excited about! We only have one life, make sure that you’re focused on the best parts as often as possible.
Ask For Help
Wish you could say no but you’re worried the whole world might collapse if you do? That’s the sign to call in reinforcements. For some of us, asking for help is even harder than saying no… but I want you to think about the times your loved ones have asked for help. Did you resent them or did you wonder why they didn’t ask sooner? Reach out to the people who love you most and let them know how they can help and be specific!
Self Care in the New Year
I cannot stress this enough: self care is essential to our well being! Once you’ve gotten comfortable scheduling time just for yourself on the holiday calendar, don’t forget to carry that over into the new year! Self care time should be a part of your routine every month, not just when you’re feeling most overwhelmed. I think you’d be surprised what you can accomplish when you show yourself as much love as you give everyone else.