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Holiday Self-Care: 6 Cooking and Self-Care Hacks in Times of Overwhelm

I don’t know about you guys but my to do list is killing me these days! It just doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter no matter how many things I cross off. Sometimes I think that there is a little gremlin who sneaks out in the middle of the night to add tasks to the list(s). Stupid gremlin. I keep telling myself to just keep plugging away and it will all get done, somehow, and I know that is true, but there are definitely moments when it just feels like too much.

In the past few months I have read in a number of different places the analogy that self-care is like putting your own oxygen mask on first when a plane is going down—you can’t help anyone else until you are taken care of. As someone who is a chronic “helper” this can be very hard for me to do, but as much as I resist it, I have found that not only do I do better if I practice some self-care in times of stress, but everyone else in my family does too because I am more patient, kind, and efficient. At the same time, though, in these times of craziness I just don’t have time to go get a massage, sleep late, go to a yoga class, or take half a day off for some “me” time. So instead I have been working on finding ways to simplify and create the space for mini-breaks and I wanted to share them with you to help you get through the seasonal insanity, or to store away for a time when you need a boost.


Let’s start with cooking. Even I feel overwhelmed by the idea of getting dinner onto the table every night right now, so here is how I am feeding my family without turning to take out:

quesadilla
  • Keep it simple. Save your culinary creativity for the big fancy meals and stick to what you can do without much thought or effort. In other words, there is no shame in sandwiches, pasta with sauce, and quesadillas.
  • Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers! Make extra and then eat the leftovers or make them into something slightly different but super quick the next night. Extra rice can become Brazilian-style fried rice. Extra tomato sauce can give you French bread or bagel pizzas. Leftover chili or beans can become veggie-loaded nachos or quesadillas.
  • Raid the freezer. Remember that extra chili, soup, or casserole you froze months ago? Now’s the time to pull it out! This week alone we are having chili and chicken tikka masala out of our freezer.

And now for the self-care tricks that are working for me these days:

walk
  • Turn a task into time for your self. Because things have been so busy I haven’t had any time to veg-out in front of the TV, so I decided to make folding laundry and emptying the dishwasher TV times. It feels decadent since it isn’t something I normally do and it is helping me to get through the mundane chores at little more cheerfully. Other options could be listening to music or a podcast that you really love or taking that work call on your cell so you can go for a walk while you talk.
  • Take a bath. Over the weekend I had a few minutes to take a bath and it was AMAZING! It only took about 20 minutes but my whole body was so much more relaxed afterwards. If you feel like 20 minutes is even pushing it, then maybe you can do some reading for work or writing of holiday cards while you’re soaking (I won’t tell!).
  • Set your timer for some mini-breaks. If you are feeling like every second is planned, then schedule in some time to take a break. Even just 5 minutes to walk around the block, rest in a savasana pose, or stretch can help you feel rejuvenated.

Do you have simple ways to simplify cooking and/or practice self-care when you are feeling overwhelmed? If so, please share!

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One Comment

  1. Good timing, thanks. Just knowing someone else feels this way right now makes me feel better already! I was wondering what was wrong with me– too many snacks? not enough iron? But maybe all it is is the time of year, trying to do too much when the season is dark and cold and calling for hibernation instead of hyper-activity. By the way, I tried your easy Chili recipe for the first time… prepped all the veggies last night, sauteed this morning, and dumped it all in the crock pot. I’m looking forward to arriving home to a wholesome dinner tonight.

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