Self Care and the Holidays

Yes, the holiday season is once again upon us. The preparation for family gatherings, perhaps the anxiety of seeing a particular family member with whom you don’t agree, the societal pressures to partake in shopping, the pressures to make it to this house and that house in order to see all of the family members you see once a year, the list goes on. So often during this time of year we lose sight of ourselves and how to take care of ourselves during this stressful season, which adds to the stress causing a vicious cycle of anxiety, fatigue, and, in many cases, depression.

The holidays can be full of magic–lights, togetherness, wonderful feasts, fun music, pumpkin pie! But, they can also be tiresome and difficult–family gatherings, bickering, financial worry. Why do we do this to ourselves? Because it’s always been done this way? Probably. Can we change how we treat ourselves, others, and the holidays in general during this time? Absolutely. The first step is asking why we continue to engage in stressful situations just because it’s always been done this way or because it’s “tradition.” Humans have a way of getting comfortable with discomfort, therefor avoiding change because there is fear the change may be worse than the current discomfort. Although this may be a valid fear, this perpetuates the feeling of being stuck and acting out of fear keeps your energy low. But when you act out of love and follow your intuition, you will find yourself to be at peace and more accepting of change. Listen to your wants and needs within your body as you ask why. If it isn’t sitting well with you and the idea of “tradition” doesn’t make sense to you, then maybe it is time to make that change to better yourself and those around you. The second step is making the changes. I’m not saying forgo all family traditions and become a recluse during the holiday season (unless your intuition, your spirit is telling you to do that). I’m saying make subtle changes for yourself that will eventually lead to bigger changes that will suit your needs and the needs of those you love. Here are some ideas to help you change and be at peace during this holiday season.

  1. Meditate: In my blog I discussed the benefits of meditation and how it can relax the entire mind and body. During this time of stressful activities make sure to take time, even if it’s only five minutes throughout the day, to relax your mind and be present with your breath. This will help you feel calm and encourage wellbeing. You can sit in your office chair, put in some earbuds, listen to calming music, and focus your attention on your breathing. This will stabilize your heart rate and take you out of that fight or flight mode. The insight timer is a great app you can add to your phone. It offers free guided meditations, free music for your own meditation, and keeps track of your progress helping you stay on track for your wellness journey.
  2. Practice yoga: Yoga is another way to calm your mind and body. I also wrote about its benefits in my blog several weeks back. Yoga is meditation through movement. So, it too helps you focus your awareness to your breath and the movements that correspond to that breath. In addition it is great exercise, which releases endorphins helping you feel calm, happy, and confident.
  3. Journal: Journaling is a great way to release emotions be them negative, positive, and/or indifferent. Writing down your thoughts and emotions helps reduce “the intensity of these feelings” which can help you feel calmer. Journaling helps you gain a better understanding of who you are and what your needs are. Like meditation, journaling helps you stay mindful and aware. When you free-write (writing by stream of consciousness) sometimes you write things down that were pent up inside that were unable to be released because you may have been trying to please others but in turn were hurting yourself. This thoughts and ideas can help you understand what your needs truly are.
  4. Get outside: Getting outside in nature and touching the earth is healing to the body and soul. Getting outside helps you unplug from sensory overload we all experience from social media, T.V., and phones. It helps you feel uplifted and supports your immune system by getting a healthy dose of vitamin D. Being outside helps you connect to your true self. We are human animals, and being animals we do need to be outside. If you look at a dog, what happens when she/he is cooped inside too long? The dog becomes anxious, sad, and maybe even aggressive. When you really think about it, the same is true for humans. We need that fresh air, the sunshine, the physical activity outside in order to avoid those feelings of anxiety, aggression, and depression. There are even studies linking the importance of outdoor play to children’s cognitive development and how crucial it is for children to be outside. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean that importance is now null and void. The importance of being outside and releasing energy still holds true.
  5. Get a massage: Yes, I know, the massage therapist is telling you to get a massage. But massage is healing and also meditative. It takes you away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and allows you time for you. It helps you recharge, it heals aches and pains, it relaxes those anxieties, and it helps your body and mind as a whole. Feel free to book a massage and take care of yourself in order to feel good during the holidays.

Doing these things over this holiday season will help you gain knowledge into your needs and what changes you may want to make in order to help your mind and body feel at peace. The holidays are stressful, but they don’t need to be. We can reduce the stress and even change how we view and celebrate the holidays. It does take time but we can all make subtle changes that will help us navigate this season and even feel better during the holidays.

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