As POPSUGAR editors, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you’ll like too. If you buy a product we have recommended, we may receive affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.
The holiday season is a time for joy, but it’s also a time for driving eight hours to visit your aunt who’s hosting Christmas dinner or planning a menu for the Hanukkah potluck you offered to host for your friends. Yes, you’ve got a lot to do, but carving out time to have a holiday movie marathon with your bestie or a craft night at home is just as crucial. In other words, you need self-care. Self-care isn’t a novel idea, but allow us to remind you how the simple act of self-preservation in times of stress can be a game-changer for your mental health during the holiday season.
Plan a Movie Marathon
One of the best parts of the holiday season is the laundry list of holiday movies: the old, the new, and the corny. But these movies aren’t just entertaining, they may be apparently good for your mental health, too. Turns out a story about a big city slicker who moves back to their small hometown just ahead of the holidays only to reconnect with their high-school sweetheart and learn the true meaning of the season can make all of your real-life stress seem not so important. The lack of reality, predictable storylines, and requisite happy endings give our brain a break. So, pick a film and hunker down alone (or enlist a friend) to immerse yourself in the cheesy feel-good world of the holiday movie genre.
Indulge in a Daily Treat
Allow us to introduce you to “little treat” culture. What is a little treat? Little treats can be any small purchase that helps you get through the day, like a reward system. Think, a $5 croissant or a $10 smoothie you pick up on the way home from a hot girl walk. Incorporating this ritual into your daily routine can make particularly stressful days easier to navigate because you always have something to look forward to. But said “little treat” doesn’t have to be something you purchase; it can be something you already have on hand. Under the umbrella of “little treats” exists soda breaks, a brief pause Gen Zers and millennials are known to take during the day, usually as a reprieve from work. We think the same practice can — and should — apply to the holiday season. A crisp Canada Dry Ginger Ale from the fridge gives you an excuse to take a 20-minute break away from that Christmas morning strata you’re prepping.
Get Crafty, Make Art
Even if you don’t remember much from your childhood, you can probably recall that arts and crafts were really fun — and relaxing. There was nothing quite like reaching for your coloring book in the midst of a tantrum. But just because you grew up doesn’t mean those feelings disappeared: creating art is a diversional activity that can help reduce stress while boosting self-esteem. Whether this includes filling in an adult coloring book or revisiting the long-forgotten oil pastels you bought in 2020, try to schedule an hour into your day to give the left side of your brain a break. Remember, this isn’t a commissioned piece; your finished product doesn’t have to be good, so don’t overthink it.
Read a Cozy Holiday Book
Reading — holiday-related books or not — is stress-relieving self-care. Some experts have said that if you’re really focused on a book, you can even send your body into a type of meditative state. But if you’re feeling festive, we suggest reaching for the cozy, holiday book that transports you to a simple, snowy world where the drama is harmless and the plot takes no more than 300 pages to conclude. A holiday book is basically a winterized beach read — an easily digestible page-turner. They have mass appeal and low stakes — they’re basically blockbuster movies you can read. And if you have a favorite beach read author, we’d wager they probably have a holiday romance or two in their oeuvre.
Start a Low-Lift Gratitude Journal
Giving thanks is more than the ritual your mom forced you to do at every holiday dinner. Turns out, she was encouraging healthy optimism. Some studies in the past have been able to support the theory that showing gratitude can promote both physical and mental wellbeing. Create a ritual out of expressing gratitude by tracking your thoughts in a journal. Continuously counting your blessings won’t stop your nosy aunt from asking you about your relationship status in front of the entire family, but it can potentially help you deal with the feelings the annual experience summons.