The importance of self-care during the holidays
It's here. Can you feel it? That time of year when Halloween is in the books and, overnight, our world has gone from ghosts and goblins to sleigh bells and Santa Claus. Like it or not, the holiday season is upon us.
How does that make you feel? Does it fill you with festive thoughts of friends, family, and food -- or does it make you feel something a little closer to panic? For many of us, the holiday season brings with it a mixed bag of feelings, including anxiety, stress, and even sadness. What can we do to combat these feelings? Self-care is important all the time, but it's perhaps even more important at this time of year.
Self-care isn't one thing. It's whatever activity or rituals you can do for yourself to centre yourself, keep yourself calm, to make yourself feel pampered, to relax, and to show yourself a little kindess. What that means to you will differ from what it means to me, and even from one day to the next. The important thing is to make the time to care for yourself regularly, whether it's 10 minutes every day or an hour once a week. By taking the time to relax and unwind doing something meaningful to you, you can bolster yourself against those negative feelings that can take over during the holidays. Not only that, but taking the time to care for
yourself during the holidays also allows you to put your best self forward, giving the best of yourself to your family and friends during the festive season. Too often, we try to do everything for other people and forget to take care of ourselves, but remember:
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Repeat that to yourself: You cannot pour from an empty cup. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
If your tank is depleted, there is nothing left to give. Self-care allows you to fill your tank so that you can have the tools you need to give of yourself to all of the aspects of your life, from work to family, friends to hobbies and everything in between.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks many of us, particularly woman, experience when it comes to taking time for self-care is guilt. We all know it: That nagging feeling that our time would better spent doing something more productive. How can we relax in a hot bath when there is laundry to be done? The truth is, we need to let go of those feelings of guilt and realize that we are serving of a place of priority, too.
So, now that we've talked about the value of self care and how we need to get past those pesky feelings of guilt that can stop us from making ourselves a priority, how do we put the idea of self care into practice? I've provided you with a list of suggestions, but the important thing is to find something that works for you.
Take a bath: Treat yourself to some scented bath products, light a candle, and LOCK. THE. DOOR. Let everyone know that you are out of commission for the foreseeable future, and that you are not fielding any questions. Unless it is an emergency, you are not available.
Make a cup of tea or coffee: Sometimes finding time for self-care is as simple as enjoying a warm beverage in silence, with no one making demands on us. This could mean getting up a little earlier, staying up a few minutes later (or putting the kids to bed a few minutes earlier! Don't worry; I won't tell anyone) or allocating one naptime during the week to this ritual instead of folding laundry.
Read a book: If you're like me, you have a "to be read" stack that is taller than you are. (Let's ignore the fact that I'm barely 5 feet tall, OK? That's still a lot of books! :) Being busy moms, wives, business owners, employees, friends, and all of the many other hats we wear, it can be a challenge to eke out time to just put up our feet and read. One of the best and simplest ways to indulge in self-care is to take an hour and simply read a book. Reading is escapism. It allows us to tune out the world and to disappear into another world. What could be better during a busy, stressful time? Read something motivational, funny, or uplifting (such as this new book from Oprah Winfrey)
Put on a funny movie:
These days, there's so much negativity coming at us from every direction, from the scary things on the news everyday to the gossip and garbage that can clog up our social media feeds. Instead of putting on the news tonight, put on a funny movie and laugh! There is truth to the adage that laughter is the best medicine. Give it a try.
Go for a walk: This is one of the simplest ways to take care of ourselves. Whether you go one a day or once a week, the simple act of putting on your comfortable shoes and going for a walk can do wonders for the psyche and for the body. Walking is great exercise, but it also gives you the mental space to breathe, to calm down, to let your mind drift away from your responsibilities, and more.
Meditate: If you've never tried meditation, give it a try. Simply learning to be still with our thoughts can be very healing when life gets busy. There are lots of online videos dedicated to helping you to get in touch with your inner self, learn to be still, and to recharge your batteries, but all that's really required is to find a few quiet moments to breath deeply and to focus inward, quieting the mind and shutting out distractions, even for just a few moments daily. Learning to be present in the moment can help to still racing thoughts about the future and worry about the past.
Do yoga: Yoga can be a wonderful form not only of exercise, but also of relaxation and "you time" during busy times. With the busy holiday season upon us, finding time to breathe deeply, do a few stretches, or even to take a yoga class can be very effective at helping us to keep centred and focused on what's really important.
ASMR: Have you heard of ASMR? It stands for Autonomic Sensory Meridian Response, characterized by a "tingly" feeling experienced by some people as a result of certain stimuli such as certain sounds (calming voices, the sound of rain) personal attention (back scratching, hair brushing) etc. If you've never heard of ASMR, a simple YouTube search will garner countless results for videos that are designed to invoke that tingly feeling. Even if you don't experience true ASMR, these videos can be very useful for helping you to "turn off and tune out" during busy times. Check out my favourite ASMRtist, Emma at WhispersRed ASMR.
If you're new to ASMR, it may seem strange at first, but give it a chance. It can be very calming and relaxing -- perfect for when you need to let your mind drift away from your daily stresses. Emma has the most calming, comforting presence -- you'll feel like you are visiting with a good friend. If you stop by, please tell her i sent you :) I'd love her to know I'm a big fan.
These are just a few ways to take care of ourselves during the busy holiday season and any time when life gets to be a little too much. When you start to feel guilty about taking time out for yourself -- and, chances are, you will from time to time -- repeat this mantra to yourself once again:
You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Fill your soul, then you can pour into others.
I wish you all the very best, at the holiday season and always. Take care of yourselves and each other.
What are your favourite ways to indulge in self care? Comment below so we can all share in the ideas!