December Wellness: Self-Care

Being more organized can lead to better self-care

You cannot underestimate the power of self-care during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. With the flurry of things to do, your self-care activities might fall by the wayside. One way to ensure you are making time for yourself is by organizing and planning all your tasks around the holidays. Consider the tips below to optimize your time and set boundaries.

Learn to say no. Decide what traditions offer the most positive impact and which plans cause too much stress. You do not need to attend
every dinner you are invited to. If you become overwhelmed with baking, caroling, shopping, and visiting relatives, you may want to revisit your commitments. Pick a few favorite activities that you truly enjoy and politely decline others.

Set a holiday schedule. Putting your plans on paper can show you how realistic they are. Try to use a time management planner. You can fill
in the hours with your scheduled activities including driving time and downtime. This planning will help you determine if you’re trying to pack in too much. It can also help you see where you have pockets of free time.

Plan your meals. Figuring out how to find time to cook for yourself or your family can become chaotic around holidays. With a little planning, you can fit home-cooked meals into even the busiest week. Start by listing your meals for the week ahead. You could make a basic outline for each day of the week. You could also plan to make a little extra for quick and easy leftovers. Cooking from home is also the best option to save money and eat healthier.

Take a break from social media. Decreasing social media may help lower feelings of anxiety and stress. It’s very easy to compare yourself to other people and get lost in scrolling social media all day. This can eat up precious time and cause you to feel even more stressed.

Give yourself the gift of peace. Everyone needs downtime to recharge. Declare a “me-treat” and do something that relaxes you. Add it to the schedule if you need to. Try to take a hot shower or bath, read a book, or engage in a hobby. Whatever your treat is, make sure it is something you enjoy.

The holidays are often a time when we focus on others. When we are sending cards, buying gifts, and cooking food during high stress times it is more important than ever to find time for you. If you know that the holidays are going to be stressful, plan accordingly and make sure you are carving out time for self-care.

3 strategies to reduce stress at work

Your physical and mental well-being, work environment, and the demands of your job can impact your stress levels. Reducing stressors and managing their impact by adopting coping mechanisms can help you regain a sense of control. Consider these three strategies to help you identify triggers and manage your mental health:

Control your stress before it controls you. There are many steps you can take to avoid or reduce stress, including promoting positive emotions, taking physical care of your brain, and becoming more organized.

  • Socialize with the people you value. Schedule time for this if necessary.
  • Break large tasks into smaller ones.
  • Recognize when you do your best work, and plan your most demanding tasks for those times.
  • Allocate time for lunch, and eat away from your desk.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Adults should try to get at least 7 hours of sleep.

Take care of yourself when you feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to ignore feelings of burnout. It can be hard to admit that you are overwhelmed. Acknowledge that you can’t do everything, and there are ways to cope with feeling overwhelmed.

  • Slow yourself down. When stressed, it’s common to move into panic mode.
  • Constant messages and distractions can be overwhelming. Switch off email and phone notifications to perform high-concentration tasks.
  • Take a break. Perform a calming exercise such as meditation or mindfulness.
  • Ask for help. Some tasks can be delegated.

Manage your energy. Creating a series of habits, practices, and rituals can promote your physical, emotional, and mental energy.

  • Recognize times in the day when you feel tired or unable to concentrate. Battle these times by stepping away from the desk, chatting with colleagues, or doing something interesting.
  • Aim to focus for 90 to 120 minutes at a time, taking regular breaks.
  • Eat smaller, lighter meals during the day to maintain energy.
  • At the end of each day, make a list of key actions for tomorrow.
  • Leave work at work so you can transition into your home life.

While there are negative impacts of stress, achieving an stress-free life is unlikely. Some degree of stress is crucial to personal and professional growth. Stress reminds us that something is important to us, and that we care. Although it’s difficult to avoid, with practice, you may be able to control it and reframe your stress into something more positive.


How we handle stress is a choice. It is often perpetuated by negative, “vicious” cycles of thinking. It doesn’t have to be this way. Using a cognitive-behavioral approach, it is possible to reframe unhelpful beliefs and thinking to adopt a positive, “virtuous” cycle of thinking.

The following table helps you consider unhelpful versus helpful thinking regarding an event. Think of an event from the past or future. In the left-hand column, capture your negative (vicious) set of thoughts or feelings, and then record a more positive (virtuous) way of thinking about the same event in the right-hand column.

Contact the NAMI HelpLine to find out what services and supports are available in your community. Read this article about tips for taking time for yourself.
Watch this video to practice a guided meditation.

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