Photo of a person enjoying a mug of tea surrounded by fall decor.

For some of us, the holidays represent a time to gather, celebrate and reconnect with loved ones. For others, it may be a time that’s marked by the stress of hosting demands, gift-giving expectations, complicated family dynamics and to-do lists.

No matter how you’re feeling this holiday season, here are six things you can do to take care of yourself.

1. Be intentional

Take a moment to clarify your intentions and priorities for the holidays. Being intentional about how you want to show up this season can help relieve some of the pressures associated with holiday expectations. If you’re not sure where to start, it may be helpful to ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the most important rituals or traditions that I want to honor this year?
  • Who do I want to spend meaningful time with?
  • What do I want to make time for this year?
  • How do I want to feel?
  • What expectations do I want to let go of this year?

Clarifying these aspects of the holidays can help you be more selective with how you spend your time and energy. For instance, if you want to prioritize time with your extended family, you may need to shift your focus away from tasks like decorating or tidying so that you have more energy to be fully present with loved ones while they’re in town.

2. Quiet your calendar

Winter months have a tendency to be jam-packed with family commitments, work parties, holiday gatherings and other celebrations. Be sure to take some time to reflect on which social events are truly meaningful for you or your family. Prioritize these events, and give yourself permission to say no to the rest. Allowing yourself space to rest, decompress and tend to your own needs can help make the next few months feel more manageable.

3. Share responsibilities

While it’s important to practice self-care during the holiday season, it’s also important to engage in community care and lean into your support systems. Unlike self-care, which focuses on how we take care of ourselves, community care emphasizes how we can collectively take care of each other.

Engaging in community care helps us foster deeper connections, systems of support and purpose, which can all improve our mental health and well-being. Here are a couple of ways you can participate in community care and share responsibilities this season:

  • Opt for a potluck or catering. Hosting family or friends can be stressful, especially if the hosting and cooking duties primarily fall on one person or one family. This year, consider hosting a potluck where friends, family and other guests prepare and share their favorite holiday dishes as a group. Alternatively, you can also opt to ask everyone to pitch in for a catered meal to share. Both of these options can help reduce the burden of cooking (and cleaning up) a whole holiday meal by yourself.
  • Come together. Lean into your community for support when it comes to hosting overnight guests, preparing meals and cleaning. For instance, if you cook the primary meal, you can ask guests to help package leftovers and pitch in during the cleanup effort. Similarly, if a family member is hosting guests for an extended stay, you can offer to help pick them up or drop them off at the airport to help lessen the burden on that person to handle all of the travel logistics.

4. Adopt an abundant mindset

It’s that time of the year again: marketing emails are filling your inbox and Black Friday sales are starting earlier and earlier. Being bombarded with constant messages to consume, buy new things or give the perfect gift can make it hard to remain fully present in this season of gratitude. However, fostering feelings of abundance can be helpful during the holiday season when we face additional pressures to fill our shopping carts.

Stephen Covey, the bestselling author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, defined an abundant mindset as ”when a person believes there are enough resources and successes to share with others.” This year, take some time to not only notice but celebrate the abundance of what you already have, whether it’s the possessions you own, the relationships you have or the hobbies you’re able to enjoy.

When we feel a sense of abundance in our lives, it’s also easier to give generously. Donating your time to a local charity or volunteering can provide perspective and help you deepen ties to your community. If you’re not able to donate your time, consider donating other items such as gently used toys, warm jackets or non-perishable food items to organizations in need.

5. Do more of what you love

Make a list of the things you love. These should include things that feel mentally, physically or spiritually rewarding. Try to include simple things like reading a good book, going for walks or crafting. You can also write down more ambitious goals that you’re passionate about reaching, such as writing a novel, running a marathon or starting your own small business. This season, pay attention to the things that you genuinely enjoy doing, and do more of them!

6. Connect with campus resources

You don’t have to manage stress, burnout or other concerns alone. There are resources on campus that are here to support you.

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) provides free mental health services for all CU Boulder staff and faculty, including brief counseling, community referrals, workshops and support groups. Virtual and in-person drop-in hours are available Monday through Friday from 2 to 3 p.m.

*Hours over break may vary.

Office of Victim Assistance (OVA)

The Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short-term, trauma-focused counseling services for students, grad students, faculty and staff who have experienced and/or witnessed a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event. They are familiar with a wide range of topics, including sexual assault and harassment, discrimination, microaggressions, identity-based trauma, abuse, intimate partner abuse, stalking, crime, grief and more. 

Collegiate Recovery Community (CUCRC)

The CU Collegiate Recovery Community (CUCRC) provides support and connection for students, faculty and staff in recovery or seeking recovery from a wide range of behaviors. The CUCRC hosts free weekly support meetings that are available to staff and faculty members in person and online, including Acudetox. This meeting is attended by a certified acupuncturist who applies the nationally recognized NADA protocol to help treat addiction, PTSD and trauma. 

Buff Pantry

The Buff Pantry is the on-campus food pantry in the UMC that is open to all campus affiliates who are experiencing food insecurity. If you’re concerned about food over fall break, you can stop by once per week to receive approximately 20 pounds of food per visit before break starts.

*Hours over break may vary.