Self Care this Holiday Season

self care

Image by Derek Owens via Unsplash

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us.

One of the things I most enjoy about this time of year is spending extra time with friends and family. And one of the things I find most stressful about this time of year is spending extra time with friends and family.

Quite the dichotomy, eh?

The Blessing/Curse That is the Holiday Season

In the fast-paced world in which we live, taking time to slow down and enjoy time with our loved ones is something many of us, myself included, don’t do often enough.

During the holiday season, time with family and friends becomes more of a priority for many people.

And that, without question, is a good thing!

But for me, and maybe for you as well, the extra time spent with family isn’t the quiet and relaxing time that most Hollywood movies portray it to be.

Travel this time of year is often more than a little stressful. Having all of the kids and grandkids back home for a few days is anything but relaxing. Add in disrupted sleep routines for everyone in the family, too much sugar for the kids, and too much alcohol for the adults, and it’s easy to understand why extra time with family over the holidays isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Instead of calm and serene, extended time with family over the holidays has a tendency to be stressful and more than a little chaotic.

Make Self Care a Priority

So how do you not only survive the holidays, but actually enjoy the season and all the festivities that come with it?

You have to be intentional about taking care of yourself. Because if you don’t make self care a priority, it’s simply not going to happen.

The question then becomes how to best prioritize your self care without upsetting the delicate balance associated with a massive family gathering.

Here are a few suggestions to make taking care of yourself this holiday season, and staying on track with your running, a reality.

Set Clear Intentions Early

Before the family gathers, the first thing you need to do is make your intentions clear for the time you’ll be spending together.

Odds are you won’t be able to stick to your normal running schedule. And you should try to be ok with that.

But just because you won’t be able to get every workout in as usual doesn’t mean you can’t still do a few workouts.

Make your intentions known as early as possible, to avoid other people making plans for you without your knowledge.

Be Flexible

Yes, set your intentions. But it doesn’t hurt to be flexible either.

You may have to move your workouts around a bit to ensure they happen without disrupting family plans too much.

Maybe that means running earlier or later in the day than you’re used to. It may also mean that instead of doing your long run on Saturday, like you always do, you move it to Monday. And maybe it means that instead of getting one uninterrupted long run in, you have to break it up into two chunks.

Look, none of these situations is ideal. But making self care a priority doesn’t mean that the world revolves around you. So if less than ideal is the best you can do, then that is what you need to do.

Add a Co-Conspirator to the Mix

There’s strength in numbers.

If you’re finding it hard to make your runs happen this holiday season, recruit a co-conspirator (or several) to join you.

Do you have a brother or sister in law who’s a runner? Invite them to join your for a run. A niece or nephew who’s an athlete? Challenge them to keep up with you for a mile or a few.

Not only will the added layer of accountability help you get out the door to log your miles, but you’re also turning your run into quality time with a member of the family.

Win win.

Self Care is Not Selfish

If you don’t take care of yourself, how do you expect to take care of those you love the most?

I know the metaphor of putting on your oxygen mask first is a tired one, but that doesn’t make it less true. In order to be the best member of the family you can be, in order to take care of those you love the most, you have to first take care of yourself.

This holiday season, do yourself a favor by making self care the priority that it should be. And maybe, just maybe, that’ll make the holiday season better for the entire family, not just you.

By Denny Krahe

Denny Krahe is a Certified Athletic Trainer and Running Coach specializing in helping runners prevent common running injuries and being able to run pain free. He is also the host of the "Diz Runs With..." podcast.