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What do the holidays and motherhood in general have in common? Both can be magical, but also a lot of work. For moms in particular, this season can add to an already heavy mental load. With so much on our plates, it may seem like this is the least opportune time to prioritize self-care—when, in fact, it’s more important than ever.

This month, my family is gearing up for our first group Christmas gathering in years. As excited as I am to watch my kids play with cousins, spend time laughing over appetizers and do our traditional family prayer before the meal, I’m also feeling the heat from everything that needs to get done in advance. Which, of course, isn’t what this season is really about...

It’s about fellowship and love.

It’s about honoring traditions.

It’s about reflection and gratitude.

And those are all feelings I’m better able to experience when my self-care cup is (at least partially) full. The beauty of self-care is that it looks different for every person. That’s why the first step is claiming the time and space to figure out what is rejuvenating for you. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to self-care, here are some tried and true ways to recenter and restore yourself during the holiday season.

Try Some Low-Pressure Meditation

The mental, emotional and even physical benefits of meditation are plentiful. But, especially for mamas who are used to having their minds run at a speed of 100 miles per hour, the idea of tuning it all out can be intimidating. Enter: guided meditations. Designed to help you walk through meditation, this can be an effective way to find inner peace—or even address a more specific challenge, such as anxiety. 
After previous failed attempts at meditation, I’m finally finding a style that works for me with Hallow, the top Catholic app in the world. With more than 3,000 prayers and meditations of all lengths and topics, I’m able to find the guided meditation that’s right for my needs at any given moment. (Including Minute Meditations that are perfect for finding peace in brief windows of time!)

Tell Your Support System What You Need

For many of us, this is still a radical idea. But, what if you told your friends and family members who care about you exactly what you need? Whether that’s an hour alone in the house or a pass on bringing cookies to a holiday party, self-care often starts with self-advocacy.

Come Back to the Reason for the Season

There is no denying that Christmas comes with added stress and expectations for many of us. And though there can be fun and meaning to be found in those celebrations, it can also help to keep what matters most in focus. To do that, I’m committing to spending time every day throughout Advent listening to 5-minute meditations and prayers, including those through the eyes of Mary, the Mother of God, in the Hallow app.

Schedule Something You Enjoy

As moms, much of our focus is naturally on what we can do to make the holidays special for our kids. But, why does the magic and meaning of this season need an age limit? By planning (and then prioritizing) something that you want to do—with or without family—you can be uplifted by the thought of something you will enjoy.

Allow Some Things to Go

Remembering the difference between “should do” and “want to do” is self-care—at least for the mamas who are largely responsible for those to-do lists. If you’re like me and get concerned about what you aren’t accomplishing, it can help to reframe that thought as what you are opting to do instead. For example, instead of making three side dishes for Christmas dinner, what about making two great ones and also making space for conversation with family? Saying no to one thing is an opportunity to do something else. 

As it does every year, the holiday season will come to a close. On the other side, make sure you don’t only have new, cherished memories, but that you also feel like you took care of yourself. 

Hallow is offering Motherly readers a free 3-month trial of Hallow Plus. In addition to permanently free content, this unlocks the full, ever-growing library of audio-guided prayers, meditations, exclusive music and audio Bible readings. Start now at Hallow.