It’s the holiday season! Read that as it applies to you; with excitement, or with frustration. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Wonderful because regardless of how you perceive it, it is filled with plenty of learning opportunities for you.
For the fans:
What do you enjoy about the season? Is it the time spent surrounded by your loved ones? Is it the cooking and sharing of meals? The gifts? Maybe all of the above.
For the ones who endure:
What makes this time of year difficult, challenging or unpleasant?
To reflect on the above questions consider the Eight Areas of Wellness and some Self-Care Tips: The Holiday Edition, to get the most out of this season.
Emotional / Mental
Stay true with your therapist or your trusted social support. The holidays can bring up complex emotions for many reasons: surrounded by family with high expectations of you, clashing relationships, the loss of a loved one, or maybe new relationships. Whatever the case may be, process it. Avoiding these issues can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Positive Vibes Only Please. Except that sometimes, we don’t have control over the quality of the vibes we are swimming in. That being said, think about what you do have control over. Can you take breaks? Methods to achieve this can look like: taking a walk, offering to go to the store and pick up missing items for dinner, “going to the restroom” to take a quick minute to practice mindfulness. If you can’t physically leave, think of a joyful experience you had in the past in order to shift your mood and reset your nervous system.
DO NOT SHOP OUTSIDE OF YOUR MEANS. Gifts are fun but do not add value to a gift to express your appreciation for someone. Depleting your financial means, or going into debt will only add stress to your everyday life beyond the holiday season. Set a budget and stick to it. Adding a heartfelt card with a message of why you appreciate the recipient is like the icing on the cake.
Don’t let go of your personal interests; exercise the part of the brain that loves to learn new information. This helps broaden perspectives and understanding of others around you. Ways in which you can self-care in this area include reading a book or blogs (such as this one-shameless plug, I know), any medium of art, attending to your hobbies, brain games, and intellectual conversations.
Get busy! What is your role during the holidays? Are you the board game leader at your family functions? Are you on the cooking team? If you don’t have a role yet, that’s okay! There is still plenty of time to sign up for the holiday potluck or volunteer at a local food bank, clothing-based charity, or animal shelter.
Don’t skip your workouts. I know that skipping your class or scheduled gym time sounds like a good way to take care of that last minute shopping or holiday social function, but no. Whether you enjoy the holidays or not, this time of year can be stressful. Don’t deprive yourself of what is considered a high quality stress reducing activity because of other demands. Plus, getting your daily dose of serotonin-producing cardio may help you deal with your tìa chismosa (nosy auntie) due to be at house more often during this time of year.
You decide who makes up the most optimal social support for you. This can be coupled with the environmental slice of your wellness pie. If you have the ability to surround yourself with a healthy social circle during this season, great! If not, schedule time to talk or meet before/ after the holidays to help rejuvenate your spirit. Also, boundaries, keep them and let them be known. In conversation with family and friends, identify whether they are being supportive or judgemental. If boundaries are crossed, ask for whatever is causing you discomfort to change.
“I was not planning on talking about this issue tonight, but thank you for your concern.”
“That topic is highly stressful for me and I am choosing to practice self-care tonight by not addressing it.”
Reflect. Take the time to identify what you are grateful for this past year. No amount of gratitude is too small.
Gift yourself the patience and space to manage the fluctuating emotions that may come your way this season. As mentioned in the previous blog post, don’t forget to schedule your self-care practices on your calendar.