Have you been feeling the pull of the holidays and related busyness, such as gift buying, parties, writing holiday cards, decorating, and so on? Do you also feel the pressure of looming work deadlines to get things into place before end of the fiscal year? How many to-do lists have you started to put together to help you manage everything you have on your plate? This is the time of the year when even the most calm and collected of us have this sense of overwhelm creeping in. Women go from razzle-dazzled to just plain frazzled. That then typically means giving up on exercise, saying hello to lots of gingerbread lattes, eating cookies for breakfast and dinner, visiting the Cinnabon stand while out holiday shopping or having extra chocolate martinis during parties.

And the only way out is to become fierce in your self-care program. This isn’t just adding to your already full plate, but to actually help you get MORE done effectively and in a way that makes you feel good. Let’s then take a look then at the top 5 things you can do to bring back your holiday cheer during the crazy holiday period and end-of-year business activities:

  1. Calendar. You absolutely need to schedule self-care on your calendar. Be it exercise, a dinner with friends, time for a home spa, a pedicure/manicure, drawing, crafting, a massage, reading time or whatever re-energizes you. You need to give self-care the same priority as holiday parties, shopping, business meetings or work projects. Commit to at least 2 hours a week. You’re most likely using the excuse that you don’t have time. However, you’ll gain more time by being in a state of relaxation and are able to accomplish a lot more when you come from this place. Your brain functions more optimally. Your body is less tense. You feel more blissful. This then translates into a state of being that is able to stay more present-focused and calm.
  2. Women friends. Surround yourself with a modern day woman support circle. During times of stress, we tend to hold things in to the point where we just explode. Or in our frazzled state, we can no longer see things clearly. So, that’s where the power of gal pals comes in. Community-building and forging connections with women can truly move you toward happiness and joy. It’s the most underutilized tool in a woman’s toolbox. Your gal pals will be there for you to let off some steam. They can also help you find solutions when you’re stressed to the max. Look at these ladies as your second set of brain, eyes and heart.
  3. Ovaries. Okay, this might be one where you’re scratching your head. However, when it comes to self-care, you need to rely on your intuition, i.e. gut, rather than your brain. Your intuition will tell you when you’re pushed to the maxed and don’t have anything to give anymore. And that’s where getting comfortable with embracing the word no and stepping into self-care mode comes into play. The word no can be hard for women to embrace and a lot of women associate it with being a masculine trait. That’s why I decided on wordplay and didn’t use the word “balls”. Learn to set boundaries and say no in a way that makes you feel good and is in alignment with your female principles.
  4. Journal and compost pile. These two items serve you as a physical releasing mechanism. That’s where you let out all your emotions. No more holding back those yucky emotions that you’re trying to suppress. Are you mad at your mother or boss because of the extra pressure you’re feeling? Well then, write it out in a letter to them. Tell them exactly how you feel. Also write out exactly what support you’d like from them. Let them also know what steps you’re taking to change the situation. Now here’s the key, you just take the letter and throw it into a compost pile (or bury it somewhere secluded). You don’t physically give it to them. The purpose is just to get it off your chest. Then take one action toward changing the situation.
  5. Nature. Give yourself the gift of connecting to Mother Nature when it comes to your food, getting outside and surrounding yourself with beauty during this stressful period. Fueling yourself with whole foods instead of all the junk available will give you instant energy. Taking a walk, even if it’s chilly outside, will totally clear your mind. Buying yourself fresh flowers will lift your spirits to the point where you absorb their beauty and see that in yourself. We have a tendency to coop ourselves up in our homes, offices or in stores during this time of the year. When we’re cut off from nature, we’re cut off from the source that nourishes us. And that’s why we’re in the state of stress and overwhelm. So, head out for a 30-minute walk during lunch to pick up some fresh produce and beautiful flowers!

I can guarantee you that if you give even just one a try; you’ll reap some great rewards!

Originally published at medium.com