Self-Care During the Holidays

BY: Jan Mooney, MA, LMFTA

DATE: December 18, 2015

The holiday season is upon us with all of its joys and challenges. There is no more important time of the year to practice self-compassion, and, as it turns out, self-compassion can be protective against internalizing the thin-ideal (Tylka et al., 2015).

What is a recovery-minded person to do?

It is important to practice self-compassion daily—not just when feeling stressed. This may mean scheduling an appointment for a massage or an impromptu candle-lit bath. A nap and a nice, thick pair of socks might hit the mark. It might take some experimentation to figure out what your compassionate self-care will look like (see below for some ideas), and it is best to have several up your sleeve in case you are not in a position to slip into the bathtub!

We all know that holidays can be stressful. Often you see people you only see one or a few times during the year and invariably, they may comment on your appearance, because like it or not, that’s what most people do. These comments can be even more tricky to deal with than other body image pressures, because they are often from people we care about and respect. It’s important to be pro-active and prepared to model how one can comment on things other than physical appearance. Although the holidays don’t always present many “teachable moments” when you can educate people about the impact of appearance-related comments, they can also be excellent opportunities to practice letting comments roll off of you like water off a duck’s back. Not always easy to do when you are in recovery, but practice really does make it easier anticipate potential comments and figure out how you want to respond in the moment.

Enjoy your holiday season with friends and family, but don’t forget to give yourself the gift of self-compassion too.


Tylka, T.L., Russell, H.L., Neal, A.A. (2015). Self-compassion as a moderator of thinness-related pressures’ associations with thin-ideal internalization and disordered eating. Eating Behaviors, 17, 23-26.

Resources – some ideas for self-care from around the web:

Simple mind and body self-care practices from The Daily Buddha

Creating a plan for self-care (resources targeted at social workers, but generally applicable)

Guy Winch, on emotional hygiene