The holiday season is a time of love, connection, and giving. And often we focus so much on others, we forget to take care of ourselves. Here, we explain how and why a few minutes of self-care are so important for you — and the people around you — during this time of year.

Self-Care is Not Selfish

Self-care is simply taking care of your own basic needs. Research shows that nurturing yourself positively affects the world around you, improving your own mental and physical health, and enabling you to better care for others.

While it is challenging to find time to focus on yourself — especially during the holidays — it is a practice worth persisting with. A permanent state of happiness is neither realistic nor achievable. But neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor explains how this isn’t quite the point either. “To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”

Practice Self-Compassion

In his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, Dr. Christopher Germer writes, “self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.” You deserve as much of your own attention and energy as everybody else receives.

When you ask someone how they’re feeling, ask yourself how you’re feeling too. When you congratulate a friend for an achievement, congratulate yourself for something too. Studies conducted by at the University of Texas, found that those who practice self-compassion are better able to “buffer against anxiety”, and experience “increased psychological well-being.”

Methods for Self-Care

Everyone’s methods for self-care are different, but everyone benefits from incorporating as many senses as possible into their self-attentive moments. Psychologists have studied activities ranging from listening to music, to dancing, to exercising and walking outside, to meditating, and all have proven to be capable of positively altering your mental health, helping you feel more confident and grounded.

Even the tiniest moment of self-care can make a difference to your own happiness, and the amount of gratitude and joy you are able to share with others. By practicing self-compassion, and allowing yourself a few moments to breathe, you can transform the holidays from a sometimes exhausting, stressful time, to one filled with even more laughter, hope, and love.