With the 2022 holidays creeping right around the corner, this is the time to start checking in on yourself. Whether you’re traveling to see family or picking up the perfect gift for that special person, it’s important to also remember your own self-care. Here are my tips to taking care of yourself this holiday season:

1. Set Boundaries. The holidays have a tendency to bring out the worst in people. It’s hectic and tiring, and sometimes people express their stress in inappropriate ways. Before surrounding yourself with your family and friends, take note of what kind of boundaries you will hold for yourself and those around you. If you get overwhelmed being around people all day, plan a coffee run by yourself. If shopping stresses you out, plan to go to one or two stores each time, rather than an all-day trip. Recruit your closest friends to help with the most stressful tasks, rather than that one aunt who annoys you more than anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with declining a party invitation from your least favorite coworker. Always remember, “No.” is a complete sentence. And, if someone is upset by your boundaries, that’s not your fault.

2. Know Your Triggers and Coping Skills. Between family coming to town, holiday food, and the financial strain of purchasing gifts, this time of year can be quite stressful. At times, it can be triggering. Before you begin traveling, buying, and baking, take a few minutes to think about triggering situations that may arise. It could be parents who don’t understand or respect your boundaries. Or, maybe your trigger is being around the massive amounts of food that is traditional in American homes.

After identifying your triggers, take some time to brainstorm how you can respond and regulate yourself in those situations. This may look like doing some deep breathing at the dinner table, grounding exercises, or taking a moment to be by yourself. It may even involve removing yourself from the situation altogether. Coping looks different for everyone, so figure out what works for you.

3. Identify Your Comfort People. Sometimes we need more than breathing and grounding exercises to get through tough days. It can be helpful to have someone to talk to when you get frustrated. You may be traveling to see some of your comfort people, which makes it even easier to chat when you need them. Thankfully, technology has also made it easier than ever to talk to people wherever they are. I encourage you to make a list of your go-to people on your phone. It’ll be helpful beyond the holidays, too!

4 . Eat the Extra Cookie. The holidays are one of the hardest times of year for people struggling with food and body image. Many holiday traditions center around meals together, cooking, and baking. If you’re traveling to someone’s home, you may not even have choice in what you eat. This is the time to practice gentleness with yourself. You may be tempted to skip a meal or pass on dessert. However, take that opportunity to choose to nourish your body. Eat food that makes both your body and your soul feel good. Of course, you should eat your fruits and vegetables, but throw an extra cookie on your plate, too.

5. Plan Restorative Self-Care. Sometimes unforeseen situations come up during the holiday season. They can cause a great deal of stress, and no number of boundaries, coping skills, or conversations with friends can fully heal or relax you. So, take time before the busyness of the season kicks in and plan some restorative self-care for the beginning of the new year. This can look like many different things, such as a massage, getting new books to read, finding exciting, new recipes, or just blocking out a day to do absolutely nothing. It is so important to reconnect with yourself after a fun, but potentially stressful season.

I hope you have the happiest holidays and remember to take care of yourself!