Self-Care Holidays

Happy Holidays! I hope you are gearing up for the new year with plenty of eggnog, mistletoe, and apple cider. The holiday season can be a busy, exciting, and stressful time. Below are my top tips for home efficiency and self-care. After all, self-care is the best way to care for others so that you can be the best version of yourself.  

Home Efficiency & Self-Care Tips:

Wake up and go to bed at the same time each day

For restfulness, studies show that keeping your wake time and bedtime consistent each day is more important than getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day so you can operate at your peak performance each day.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine intake

Alcohol disrupts stage 4 of sleep. Stage 4 sleep is the deepest stage of sleep where your body and brain rest, recuperate, and consolidate memory. Caffeine, which also disrupts sleep onset, stays active in your body for up to 7 hours after intake.  To get your most restful sleep, avoid alcohol intake and avoid caffeine intake after 12 pm to ensure its activity has worn off by the time bedtime rolls around. Remember, both chocolate and nicotine contain significant amounts of caffeine.

Eat three meals per day

To operate at your mental best, it is important to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to avoid carbohydrate heavy meals at lunch time, as they can cause afternoon sleepiness.

Exercise moderately for at least 20 minutes three times per week

In addition to being good for your physical health, moderate, regular exercise has powerful anti-depressant and anxiolytic effects. Try to exercise for at least 20 minutes three times per week. For max efficiency, consider buying an indoor office mini treadmill that allows you to walk and type/ conduct meetings at the same time!


I love delegating. There are many small daily tasks that can be delegated to family members. Distributing your chores of daily life to others not only frees up your day but also instills discipline and responsibility in children. Consider assigning “doing the dishes” or “washing and folding the family clothes” to your older child or teenager in exchange for an earned privilege or a small weekly allowance. Create a “child transportation rotation” with your significant other so that you both share the responsibilities of getting kids from point A to point B.  With mindful and effective delegating, you can free up your time while teaching your children important life skills.

Make (and follow) a daily To-Do list

Sometimes the number of your daily “to-dos” can seem overwhelming. To prioritize and organize these competing daily priorities, make a quick daily “To-Do” list each morning. You can separate the list by “Personal To Dos” and “Professional To Dos.” Some folks like to create even more categories for their To Do Lists, but I find that more than three categories can become difficult to keep track of. After creating your categories, give each to-do item a ranking in order of importance so you know which one you need to tackle first and which order to go about completing the others. If you have an iPhone, you can use the “Reminders” icon to create your own electronic TO DO list. The “Reminders” icon allows you to separate lists by categories (personal vs professional), color code the categories, and easily delete items once completed. I like to reference my “To Do” list several times per day to keep me on track. Most importantly, practice a little self-compassion if you do not complete everything on your to do list each day. (Most days I do not get through my list.) Instead, give yourself a pat on the back for the items you did complete. You are a busy person!

Amazon for gifts

Amazon is the perfect place for the busy gift buyer. You can pick out gifts, have them gift wrapped, personalized with a card, and shipped directly to the recipient with a quick click of the mouse. Amazon gift buying keeps my busy brain sane during the holiday season.

5-10 minute “Brain Breaks”

Research shows that even the most disciplined person needs a small break from a concentration requiring task every 2 hours. I try to build in 5 to 10 minute “brain breaks” every 2 hours during my workday. This is a time to get up and stretch, walk around, listen to your favorite song, go to the bathroom, or grab a quick snack. If you don’t take intentional periodic brain breaks, your brain will do it for you by becoming distracted, tired, and off focus. This surfaces with me with endless Facebook and Instagram surfing. Be kind to your brain and body by intentional creation and integration of these quick mental rest breaks-you will be more productive with a rested, focused, and calm mind!

Practice Gratitude

A 2022 study out of Duke University found that people with depression who kept a daily gratitude journal simply listing 3 things they were grateful for each day saw their depression symptoms improve as much as those taking a daily antidepressant. They also found that folks who listed the things they were grateful for right before bedtime had faster sleep onset and sounder sleep. Try it!

Lauren Grawert, MD
Chief Medical Officer
Addiction Psychiatrist