30 Self Care Ideas to Help Manage Holiday Stress

30 Self Care Ideas to Help Manage Holiday Stress

The holiday season is a time of giving, but we all know it is challenging to give from an empty cup. Between parties, gift shopping, and spending quality time with the people you love, it’s easy to become exhausted during this time of year. Practicing self care is one way to ensure that your own cup is sufficiently filled so that you can continue giving and spreading cheer! Today we are giving you 30 self care ideas to help manage holiday stress that you can carry with you into the new year.

Outdoor Self Care Activities

When it comes to recharging your batteries, there is no better option than getting outside. When we are in nature, we can disconnect from our screens, reconnect to the earth around us, soak up some much-needed Vitamin D, and be present in the moment. In the busyness of the holiday season, don’t underestimate the restorative powers of the outdoors. Here is a list of 10 of our favorite outdoor activities:

Take a Walk

Walking is one of the greatest activities for both your physical and mental health. Whether you have fifteen minutes or an hour to spend outside, grab your best walking shoes, your furry friend, and enjoy soaking up the sunshine! Leave your earbuds behind so you can listen to the world around you, or enjoy your favorite tunes as you walk. When it comes to self care, you have to do what’s best for YOU!

Go for a Hike

If you have the time, venture beyond the pavement and enjoy a hike! Not only is hiking a great workout, it also gives you time to disconnect from the world. We love the feeling of being totally alone, with only the sounds of the forest to keep us company. If you need recommendations of where to hike, check out All Trails, an app that allows you to search for the trails nearest you and ranks them according to difficulty.

Go for Bike Ride

If you live in a place where the weather is still decent, fill your bike tires with air and hit the road. Biking is a wonderful activity that you can enjoy alone or with friends, and it’s a great workout! If you don’t have great access to bike paths near you, try hitting the cycle studio! Whether you’re outdoors or indoors, biking is a lovely way to practice self care.

Rake Leaves for a Neighbor

What’s better than giving back to others? Honestly, nothing! But if we’re giving from an empty cup, we’re likely to end up feeling drained. Raking leaves for a neighbor is a fun way to fill your cup, while simultaneously filling someone else’s! Sometimes the best self care is taking the focus off of ourselves and focusing on others.

Journal Outside

Journaling is an under-practiced self care activity and one that can make a big difference in our lives when performed routinely. While we are big fans of journaling in the comfiest spot in our living room, taking your journal outside can offer two times the benefits! Soak up the sun, get inspired by the nature around you, and journal about your goals or what you’re grateful for today.

Go for a Jog

If you’re feeling stressed and a walk just won’t cut it, pick up the pace and get outside for a jog. By keeping your heart rate low, you can enjoy all the cardiovascular benefits of running without the stress to your body. Because let’s be honest, adding stress to stress isn’t always the best form of self care.

Spend Time in the Garden

If you’re still enjoying nice weather this time of year, take some time to spend in your garden. Pulling weeds is life’s cheapest form of therapy, and taking a little time to get your hands dirty can do wonders for your mental health.

Clean Your Car

This task may seem more like a chore than a form of self care, but consider how lovely it feels to sit in a new car. The seats are clean, there are no cups or wrappers in the door compartments, it smells crisp…are you drooling yet? Perhaps a clean car is self care after all!

Explore the Downtown

When the weather is nice, head downtown and explore your local shops. During the holiday season, it’s tempting to do the majority of our shopping online or inside a mall, but there’s something to be said for shopping small. Enjoy interacting with your neighbors, getting some physical activity, and shopping for the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

Play Yard Games or Sports

Practicing self care doesn’t always have to be a solo activity! If you recharge by being around others, grab your kids, family, and/or friends and play some yard games or sports. Need ideas for fun games to play outside? We love Spike Ball! It’s a game the whole family will enjoy and is easily portable to wherever your adventures take you.

Indoor Self Care Activities

Getting outside is definitely where our minds go first when it’s time to recharge. But if your weather isn’t great, or you prefer the cozy indoors this time of year, we have some self care ideas for you.

Clean Your House

Chore or self care? Only you can decide! What some view as an undesirable chore, others view as something to enjoy. We fall on the latter end! But when our schedules get busy, cleaning is often neglected. Pamper yourself by cleaning your home so that when you’re finished, you can relax and enjoy an uncluttered space.

Feng Shui a Room

When you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes all you need is a shift in perspective. This applies to your home, too! Take some time to reimagine a space in your home and move some things around. You can completely change a space by changing the location of the items within it without spending a dime.

Sketch or Paint

In the busyness of the holiday season, it’s easy to neglect our hobbies and passions but it shouldn’t be! Our hobbies make us feel fulfilled and purposeful. Whether that’s drawing, painting, writing, filming, or taking photos, make time to pursue the things you love doing. Yes, even during the holidays!

Journal in a Comfy Chair

We said it above and we’ll say it again, journaling is so under-practiced! Whether you prefer to sit outdoors or enjoy cozying up in a comfy chair, try implementing a journaling practice into your routine. Some of the benefits of regular journaling include improved writing skills, creativity, reduced stress, better self-esteem, and a more optimistic outlook on life.

Read a Book

We spend a lot of time looking at screens, which can cause headaches, stress, and insomnia. If you’re feeling stressed, the last thing you need is staring at more screens. In place of your standard evening of Netflix or social media, try swapping out your tech for a book.

Cook a New Recipe

Holiday parties promise lots of treats, so our meals at home tend to be a little boring and repetitive. If you’re tired of the same old, same old, mix it up and cook a new recipe. For a little extra self care, get the family involved and spend quality time together.

Take a Long Shower or Bubble Bath

Do you really want to indulge in a little self care? Enjoy a long, luxurious shower or bath. Hygiene is a daily habit that is routinely rushed, but my goodness when we stop to enjoy it. Talk about some self care!

Watch Your Favorite Movie

We have tried to minimize self care recommendations that center around the screen in this blog, but sometimes you just need to cozy up with your favorite movie. Grab your favorite blanket and snack, and as we like to say at Red Leaf, “hit that relax!”

Hit a Workout and Don’t Rush

Making time to workout during the holidays isn’t impossible, but it can be challenging. If you’re like us, you may find yourself rushing around your workout when it should be a time to recharge. Practice self care by honoring your time to workout and not rushing through it. Everything that is waiting for you will get done in its own time. And you likely will be better equipped to check off everything on your list if you’re feeling your best.

Get a Massage

If you have an hour to spare, make an appointment at a local massage parlor. Not only will you enjoy physical benefits like reduced muscle tightness and improved blood flow, you will also feel relaxed and restored.

Go to the Spa

If you are able to block off a few hours for self care, head to the spa and get a few treatments. We are big fans of massage, manicures and pedicures, facials, and assisted stretching! Don’t have a spa trip in the budget? Add it to your Christmas list! The gift of self care never disappoints.

Self Care Activities Under 10 Minutes

We’ve given you 21 self care ideas so far, but we understand that you may not have a lot of time to devote to yourself during the holidays. If you are short on time, try these 9 self care ideas under 10 minutes:

Give Yourself an At-Home Facial

Want the recipe for an efficient, luxurious at-home facial? We’ll tell you! Wash your face with your favorite cleanser with warm water. Turn up the heat and wet a wash cloth with hot water. Put 3-5 drops of your favorite essential oil on the wash cloth and place the wash cloth over your face for 2-3 minutes. When the time is up, splash your face with warm water to cleanse, then apply a dime-sized amount of Red Leaf Recovery Balm to your entire face.

Write in a Gratitude Journal

It’s here again for a reason, folks! Journaling is a quick, but effective way to practice self care amidst a busy schedule. If you only have a few minutes, try writing down 3-5 things for which you are grateful that day. Even on the busiest of days, a little gratitude goes a long way.

Perform Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing physiologically reduces stress in the body, and helps calm your mind. It entails slowing and deepening your breath to fill your belly with oxygen, then releasing it slowly. Need help starting your own deep breathing practice? Check out this great article from the University of Michigan Health with different types of deep breathing exercises!

Make Your Bed

Research shows that making our beds has many health benefits, including improving our sleep quality and boosting our mental health. If you’re short on time for self care, take 5 minutes in the morning to make your bed. Evening you will thank morning you when you drift peacefully off to sleep!


Meditating is a fancy term for mindfulness, but it’s an important practice with many health benefits. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, boost contentment, and improve gut function and health (Healthline, 2020). Take 5-10 minutes to yourself, minimize distractions, and practice breathing exercises to help your body (and mind!) de-stress.

Brush Your Teeth

Is there any better feeling than freshly brushed teeth? On the busiest days when you truly don’t have more than a few minutes to spare, take a moment to go brush your teeth. We promise you will rinse and immediately feel more energized with a second wind to take on the day!

Tidy Your Desk

Clutter is stressful, but holiday clutter? That’s stress on a whole new level. If your desk is littered with wrapping paper, bows, gifts, and boxes, take 10 minutes to organize the clutter. When you’re ready to get back to wrapping, you’ll have a clean desk from which to work. If you’re done for the day, you can enjoy the peace of mind that only comes from knowing everything is where it should be.

Take a Break by Yourself

Self care doesn’t have to mean doing things by yourself, but it can. If you spend your day taking care of kids, in meetings, or fighting the holiday crowds, self care make look like taking a short break by yourself. Grab a Red Leaf and take a few minutes to sit by yourself and relax. You’ll come back from your break feeling energized and refreshed!


The holiday season means writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and traveling to see loved ones. We have no doubt your body is feeling the effects already. If you have 10 minutes to spare, take a moment to stretch your body. Your muscles and joints will thank you, and so will your mind! Check out our favorite stretching routine here!

Avoid Psuedo-Self Care Activities

We attribute many activities as self care activities, but it is important to define what constitutes true self care. If an activity is just filling space in your calendar, but it isn’t meaningful, it probably isn’t self care. Likewise, something that one person considers TLC may be a chore for you. The best advice we can give when it comes to practicing self care is to honor what makes YOU feel good. It is self care, after all.