How do you fit in self-care during the holiday season? While the holidays can be a wonderful source of joy and happiness, for many, they can also be filled with stress, overwhelm and even bring sadness.
So far we’ve made it through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. I don’t know about you but I’m definitely beginning to feel the pressure of the calendar counting down until Christmas arrives!
Put on your Own Oxygen Mask First
I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately. Between running my health-coaching business, working part time with a local appraiser, preparing for an upcoming knee replacement surgery and getting ready for Christmas, and I’m definitely feeling it. I’ve also come to learn that metaphorically speaking, “burning the candle at both ends” also means risk of eventually extinguishing our own light – which is the last thing that any of us wants to do. When I look at it from that perspective, integrating self-care moves way up on my to-do-list.
I often remind my health coaching clients to take the airline’s advice and put on their own “oxygen-mask” first. This is such an important metaphor, especially for those of us who tend put other’s needs before our own. Although this is hard for some to do, we need to remember that taking care of ourselves first isn’t a selfish act; it ensures that you will be healthier and emotionally strong enough to get through the hectic days and be able support not only yourself, but those around you if needed as well.
Of course all of this is much easier said than done, especially this time of year. Try incorporating a few of these ideas each day or maybe add them in on a rotating or as needed basis. You’ll feel better, have more energy, be able to greet each day feeling a little more grounded and have the ability to cope with whatever life might toss your way.
Nourish Yourself Eat well, Sleep well, Exercise and Hydrate. Help boost your immune system and stay healthier by reducing the amount of sugar you consume this holiday season. (Carry nuts, protein bars or healthy snacks to help with temptation) Each of these elements contributes significantly to how well we feel, function and relate to both internal and external stresses. For expanded tips on this, check out my last blog Falling into Health.
Create Your Day Before you get out of bed, spend a few minutes contemplating the day in front of you. How do you want it to be? How is it that you would like to be? By intentionally setting realistic goals we set ourselves up for success. If we start to feel distracted or overwhelmed, we can pause and take a breath to anchor our thoughts back our original intentions.
Ditch your Inner Grinch You know the one. That little inner voice that tells you that you have to be “on” all the time, be everything to everyone and do it ALL yourself. Give up being a superhero, invite some company to come share the load with you and have some fun. This guy is a thief of joy; make a conscious choice to excuse him from the party. Besides, perfection might be overrated ….. but Joy, never!
Get Organized Whether you are a family of one or one of many, being organized will add some calm to your life. Take a few minutes on Sunday to take stock of what the week ahead looks like. Check out what is on the calendar, add or delete obligations. Engage or communicate with others that may have an impact on your schedule. Test your delegating skills. Give your brain a break and get it out of your head and on paper or into a planner. With so many techy options out there, find a system that works best for YOU. For me, I still love my handwritten lists. There is nothing more satisfying than when I get to cross things off!
Escape Grab some time with a close friend or connect on Skype of Facetime. Take a cat nap. Meow. Short naps are restorative and can improve cognitive function and memory. Get a massage (even if it’s only a 20 minute chair massage at the mall or airport) Take a yoga class to stretch the stress away or adorn your toes in some holiday sparkle that makes you smile. The hot bath and good book plan never fails and you don’t have to leave home to enjoy it! Try adding in some Epsom salts and Lavender essential oil to soothe your tired muscles and drift you off to a good night’s sleep.
Be the Light A good mantra to live by (and not just for the holidays) is asking: Where can I bring light? How do I bring love? Say hello to a stranger, hold open the door for another, thank the store clerk, or bless the person that just cut you off in traffic. Breathe and let it go. Being conscious of the energy and attitude we bring to each encounter can have a profound effect on reducing the amount of stress we allow it to create.
Laughter is the Best Medicine Is there anything that feels better than a contagious giggle that you absolutely can’t control? When is the last time you had a good belly laugh? The health benefits of laughter are truly amazing. So be sure to tickle your funny bone this season, it will help to relieve stress, ease anxiety and add some cheer to your day. What gets your giggle going? Since I think he is funny in almost anything, Tim Allen in The Santa Clause gets my movie vote almost every year. Or maybe you’ve heard of or even tried Laughter Yoga, even watching this video makes me laugh!
Eat, Drink, be Merry and, Mindful With all of the demands of the season, it is so easy to get caught up in “doing” rather than “being”. Keep in mind that long after the holiday has past, it is the gift of time spent with family and friends that will long be remembered, not the chaos of getting there. And above all, remember to celebrate the reason for the season.
Happy and Healthiest of Holidays to you and yours!