December is a wonderful time for family traditions and giving. But it can also be a hectic and stressful month. That means that devoting time to your self-care is more important than ever.
The December Self-Care Challenge features 31 days of self-care ideas. Now, no pressure! I have been doing these challenges for more than a year and I have never yet completed ALL of them. You can do the challenges in any order you wish or complete more than one a day. Feel free to alter them to your preferences or traditions. Download the December self-care challenge 2021.
- Enjoy an Advent Calendar. Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar costs $5 and you can buy additional copies to send to friends. The theme for 2021 is London. There are fun little games and activities for each day between December 1 and 25. It’s a sweet way to celebrate everyday and the puzzles are good for exercising your brain 🙂 so it is an affordable form of self care. Besides, it’s nice to have something to look forward to each day. Today is also Mistletoe Day and Christmas Lights Day.
Make a donation. Giving is a form of self-care because it makes you feel good about yourself. And one of the easiest ways to give is to put some cash in the Salvation Army Kettle! Did you know the song, Silver Bells, is about that?
Decorate! Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, go all out and decorate your home with seasonal touches, like cosy throws, pillows and decorations. Don’t forget white mini lights — they are inexpensive (less than $3 for a string of 100 lights) and they give your spirits a lift as the days grow shorter. I have them strung around my bedroom for a cozy glow. Today is also Make A Gift Day.
Get some fresh air. Today is Ice Skating Day – does it get any more delightfully old-fashioned than watching people glide across the ice (or taking a spin, yourself?) Visit an outdoor rink or holiday village and soak up some analog atmosphere. It is also Cookie Day today.
Light a yummy candle.Tonight is the 2nd Sunday in Advent, a time to light candles and reflect. Whether you celebrate this tradition or not, lighting a candle on Sunday evening is a wonderful way to relax ahead of a busy week. I like this single wick candle from Bath and Body Works in Hot Cocoa and Cream. It makes my whole apartment smell delicious!
Play Santa Claus. Today is St. Nicholas Day (also known as Santa Claus). Donate a new unwrapped toy to the Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots. Check the website for drop-off locations and needs.
Mindfully meditate. Meditation is good for relieving stress and enhancing your cognition. Here is a guided meditation that is perfect for December.
8. Watch a holiday classic movie. Escape the worries of life and watch a feel-good movie. Many are free to watch on TubiTV and other streaming services. Some of my favorites: A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, A Christmas Carol, Rudolph, and newer ones like A Grumpy Cat Christmas, Mistletoe and Menorahs, A Christmas Movie Christmas, Holiday Engagement and Love at the Christmas Table. Today is also Christmas Tree Day and Brownie Day.
9. Send holiday greeting cards. Social connection is an important form of self-care. Today is Christmas Card Day so it is the perfect day to mail cards to your loved ones and even the President! If Christmas is not your holiday, there are other holiday cards, as well as New Year’s cards, which everyone celebrates. I worked at Hallmark for years, so I think they have the best ones but remember you can buy also buy Hallmark cards at Dollar Tree, nice ones, for a fraction of the cost.
10. Work that body! Start out this self-care month with an easy, holiday-themed workout that takes just 15 minutes to complete. Nothing dispels stress and boosts your immune system like movement.
11. Make a self-care stocking for yourself. Stores are loaded this year with facial masks, foot masks, bath gels, bath bombs, soaps, lotions, fragrant oils and candles, lip balms, aloe-infused spa socks, exfoliating gloves, makeup kits and brushes, sparkly nail polish, hair accessories, car fragrances, journals and pens for good prices. And of course, chocolate! Buy some to enjoy now and some to put under your Christmas tree. Today is also Reindeer Day.
12. Mindful holiday coloring or crafting. Being creative is a form of self-expression and self-care. Pick something fun to do today, maybe while enjoying this relaxing ambient video. Today is also the 3rd Sunday in Advent, Poinsettia Day and Gingerbread House Day.
13. Today is Cocoa Day! Fortunately, cocoa is loaded with antioxidants so it is good for you. Today, combine the goodness of a hot cup of cocoa with some down time making a list of things you are grateful for today. It’s a self-care twofer! Add a candy cane or whipped cream for extra cheer.
14. Blue Christmas service and support. For many people, the holiday season can bring up memories of loss, grief or loneliness. Here are some hotlines, warmlines and texts services that are free to call, if you need it. The Washington National Cathedral is airing a Blue Christmas service online on December 14 and confidential support from chaplains through Zoom. If you need support, don’t be afraid to reach out. Here is the 2020 program in case you can’t make the live service or if you are curious about the service.
15. Today is International Tea Day! It’s a perfect day for brewing a cup of hot tea and curling up with a book. Some recommendations: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Miraculous Staircase by Arthur Gordon, the Gospel according to Luke and As Ye Sow by Dorothy Canfield. My favorite seasonal teas include Winter Spice herbal tea by Twinings, Constant Comment by Bigelow and Peppermint herbal tea by Celestial Seasonings.
16. Here is a cozy yoga workout to relieve stress and increase your flexibility.
17. Celebrate or create family traditions. The holidays are all about traditions. Today, take some time to curate your traditions. Which traditions will you customize or leave behind? Which will you continue and cherish? Which traditions will you begin this year? Some seasonal traditions include the Italian Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, Secret Santa, Christmas crackers, sending cards, making handmade gifts, Elf on the Shelf, lighting Advent candles, wearing family pyjamas, hanging a pickle ornament, cutting down a live tree, reading The Night Before Christmas or other Christmas story, roasting chestnuts, hanging mistletoe, participating in a cookie exchange, etc. Today is also Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.
18. Today is Bake Cookies Day. Bake your favorites to eat or give away.
19. The Nutcracker Ballet is a holiday favorite. You can watch on the big screen in movie theaters today at 1 pm performed by the Bolshoi Ballet (about $25) or you can watch this free, film version on YouTube. Today is also the fourth Sunday in Advent and Holly Day, and the Full Moon.
20. Today is Go Caroling Day. Not too many people go caroling anymore but you can still sing your favorite songs at home or in the car. Singing is an excellent and free form of self-care. It is very good for your lungs and mental health. Read about the health benefits of singing. Just remember, we are still in a pandemic so avoid crowds while singing to reduce viral spread.
21. Today is the Winter Solstice, Yule, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. Take a brisk walk outdoors during the day to enjoy nature in her winter phase. Tonight, relax by a real or virtual Yule log.
22. Drive around to see holiday lights in your neighborhood or others that put on a good show.
23. Rub your feet and legs with a peppermint lotion and raise your feet above your heart to improve your vein health.
24. To celebrate Christmas Eve, have a special candlelight dinner at home.
25. Merry Christmas! Have a joyful and meaningful day.
26. Take a winter walk today and really appreciate nature. The day after Christmas can be a let down for some people. Walking outdoors can help dispel blues and tension. It can also give you some much needed space (or quiet) and can be a good form of self-care.
27. Buy a 2022 planner and some calendar stickers. Fed Ex, Wal-Mart, Staples and Target have good planners and you can also find stickers at Dollar Tree. Look for a planner that has space to write goals, track self-care and jot gratitude lists. These features added greatly to my self-care practice in 2021 and made a real difference in my attitude and well-being. If you can’t find a calendar you like with those features, consider using the Mintgreen Wellness Journal ($10, Walmart.com).
28. Create a vision board of 2022 goals. Maybe the theme of your board (which can be a collage on a small or large sheet of white poster board) will be self-care! Incorporate favorite photos, stickers, motivational quotes (you can print from Pinterest), affirmations and goals. The vision board can reflect how you want to feel in the new year. I kept mine up all year and it always gave me a lift to look at it. Plus – it really helped keep me focused on only a few, very specific goals.
29. Write down your resolutions and 2022 bucket list.
30. Devote time on the day before New Year’s Eve to pampering. I think it’s a good practice to go into the New Year looking and feeling your best. Break out the products from your self-care stocking and give your face, body, feet and hair beauty treatments and set aside time for relaxation.
31. Celebrate New Year’s Eve! Whether you are out or at home, alone or with friends, make it a special night. At the very least, prepare something nice to eat, have something bubbly to drink (non-alcoholic is fine, that’s what I do) and stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year.