“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
Did you sing the words? Of course, you did! The song is a staple and is sure to bring out your holiday spirit even in the sourest of moods. The most wonderful time of the year brings with it a spectrum of emotions from excited to stressed-to-the max and everything in between. It is a beautiful time of year… the trees and lights, the generosity of others, the excitement of children experiencing the magic that also comes with stress from the hustle and bustle of shopping, traveling, preparing, and extended time with family for some.
Holiday stress can be related to hosting out-of-town family members, cooking a large meal, buying and wrapping gifts, traveling woes, attending too many get-togethers to count, or deeper-rooted issues like trauma, toxic family dynamics, depressed moods, and anxiety. No matter the nature or source of stress for you this holiday season, being intentional with self-care helps us to enjoy our time in the moment with loved ones and go into the New Year with a renewed mind and spirit.
Tips for practicing self-care this holiday season:
- Ask for help. Sometimes people do not offer to help for a variety of reasons. Do not be afraid to reach out to your people for assistance. Ask someone else to make the sides for dinner, get one of the older children to help you wrap presents, or let your partner take care of buying a few of the gifts on your list.
- Take time to relax. I don’t mean zone out watching TV or napping, but intentionally relax through deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, or taking a moment outside for fresh air.
- Remember what you are grateful for. Taking a moment to express gratitude through a list in your journal or talking with a loved one has a way of putting the holiday season in perspective and reminding us the real reasons that we celebrate.
- Ensure you are allowing enough time for adequate sleep. A good night’s sleep lays the foundation for our day and the emotions that lie ahead.
- Periodically assess your feelings and stress. Check-in with yourself, asking where you are at emotionally and with your capacity for stress. Ask yourself what you need and address that need or find someone to help.
- Feel your feelings. Instead of avoiding the difficult emotions that can come up during the holiday season, take a moment to feel the grief, sadness, or other emotion you are experiencing. Journal about it, talk with someone, or just take a few moments to sit with it before moving on to the next thing.
- Treat yourself. Want a pedicure or manicure, your hair done, or new duds for the holiday parties? Make those things happen! When we do things like this for our own selves, it gives us a pep in our step, a boost of self-confidence and excitement. You deserve it!
Self-care does not come naturally for most, so remember to be intentional about it this holiday season. As flight attendants always highlight in their safety speeches to passengers, one must put on their own oxygen mask first before helping others. Let that be a reminder to you this holiday season, that you must first care for yourself to be fully present for your loved ones during such a special time. And plus, you are totally worth it!
Written by: Kristen McCray, LCSW