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As the holiday season approaches it is so easy to get in a rut of automatic “giving.” We make shopping lists, brainstorm the perfect gifts, and focus on “giving” gifts. We even feel the stress during the holidays of navigating our friends’ and families’ expectations for where we should be “giving” our time during the holiday season.

This party, that party, this food drive, that charity auction, etc. All good things.

In the flurry of all the stress to “give” during the holidays, we tend to forget the life-changing gift of  giving ourselves the gift of health and self care we each deserve, however.

When we say “self care” it can easily get confused with selfishness or narcissism, but this is a misapplication of the term. I’m talking about doing what you need to do in order to stay healthy, energetic, and present in your life – during the stress of the holidays and beyond.

Look, I know how easy it is to slip into self-judgement if you have to say “No” to an amazing event or “No” to someone’s offer of a food that doesn’t fit with your health goals. We all do it. We become martyrs.

But you cannot give from an empty vessel. You must fill your vessel up with health, joy, respect, and happiness, so much so that is spills over to others. Give yourself the opportunity to say “Yes,” to taking the critical time needed to stay healthy and take care of yourself. When that happens, it cannot help but spill out! This kind of giving is so infectious and so effective — but it can’t happen until you give yourself the gifts of health, joy, respect, and happiness first.

Schedule time to take a breath during the holiday season. Give yourself the time to take a walk, enjoy a yoga class, or even do some breathing exercises. Acknowledge when you’re tired and need more rest. And fuel yourself with plenty of fresh, whole organic foods that will nourish your body, give you energy, and support your immune system.

The hustle and bustle and all the potential stress during the holiday season can be energizing if you pace yourself, stick with healthy habits that build you up, and give yourself time to rest and recharge at several points during the season.

Don’t wait until the first of the year to make a resolution that you know you will break! Say “yes” to making healthy choices and taking one small step at a time now — without the pressure of perfection that a resolution usually carries and START NOW.

This holiday season, ask yourself this question: What have you been unwilling to give yourself for your health during previous holiday seasons?

Sit with that. Be honest. Write down what you consider your most important option. And commit to living out this holiday season differently. Health starts with each small choice you make.

Start choosing to give yourself the gift of health and happiness. And see it as a way to actually give more to the people you love. Each small choice will give you so much momentum, and so much love to give that it cannot help but change your life — and the lives of others.