An older couple practices self-care by making a healthy dinner.

5 Tips for Self-Care During the Most Wonderful (and Stressful) Time of Year

Practicing self-care doesn’t just improve your mental health but affects you physically as well. According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, self-care can reduce your chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A national survey also found that Americans reported improved self-confidence, increased productivity, and greater happiness when they were actively engaging in self-care routines.

For those with osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, or chronic pain, making time for self-care is crucial for reducing pain and ensuring you can maintain a healthy lifestyle. One of the primary culprits for joint pain is inflammation, which can be caused by stress. Prioritizing yourself and what your body needs can help reduce your stress long-term and subsequently, help you feel better physically.

As we head into a busy holiday season, it’s the perfect time to remind ourselves that self-care is a necessity. Below are 5 tips for self-care during the holidays:

  1. Find A Routine: While each day may look different, there are steps you can take to remain consistent. Planning out certain aspects of your day, like the time you wake up and go to bed, can give you a sense of normalcy, which can overall reduce stress levels.
  2. Prioritize Sleep: Healthy sleep habits can have more of a positive impact than you might realize! About 70% of people with osteoarthritis report having sleep problems. By focusing on winding down early, shutting down your devices, and picking up a book or a cup of tea, you can further avoid stress-related sleep disturbances. This will allow you to have more uninterrupted nights, reducing joint pain and inflammation during the daytime.
  3. Exercise Regularly:  We all know that working out and keeping your body active can have immense physical benefits. Especially for those with osteoporosis, staying active in a safe manner can increase bone density and reduce the risk of falling. But working out can also have positive mental impacts! According to the Mayo Clinic, exercising can release endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that increase your sense of well-being. It is also a great way to clear your mind and break the cycle of negative thoughts. Overall, staying active can reduce stress, lessening the chance of joint inflammation. When your schedule gets especially busy during the holidays, we recommend continuing to prioritize exercise – either by waking up early in the morning or by setting clear boundaries on your time with friends and family.
  4. Eat Healthy: While it may be convenient to go out for dinner or rely on holiday leftovers, maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet is a critical part of practicing self-care. By paying attention to what you are putting in your body, you can decrease joint inflammation and pain. Taking a few hours out of your week to meal prep will allow you better control over your diet and the nutrients you’re consuming.
  5. Set Reasonable Goals: Having goals in mind that you want to achieve can be a great motivator. However, it’s important to be realistic about the goals you are setting. By determining realistic guidelines for yourself, not only will you feel a sense of productivity, but you will also subconsciously remind yourself of all that you are capable of. Instead of setting the goal that you will run a marathon in the next few months, how about committing to running on the treadmill 2x a week? Reaching for more realistic, laid-back goals to start will help reduce stress levels.
Getting cozy by the fireplace is one way to practice self-care this holiday season!

Experiencing joint pain and in need of more than self-care? Try our Find a Doctor tool today to get connected with a doctor familiar with Anika’s solutions.

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