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  • 5 Creative Ways to Prioritize Self-Care During the Holidays

    So, what exactly is self-care and do you really need it? It seems like something that takes a lot of time and/or cost a lot of money…neither of which you’re ready to part with, especially during the holidays, correct? Well keep reading because I have good news for you! Self-care isn’t about time or money.

    Self-care is simply anything that you do (or don’t do) to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Self-care fosters resilience and helps you to become better equipped to manage stress. Self-care differs from person-to-person. It can be relaxing or it can be something intellectual or spiritual, physical or practical. 

    Holidays are stressful for many people because of the disruption to their routines, the change in the status quo. When we have to choose between baking another batch of holiday cookies or taking a long walk, we opt to bake the cookies. Self-care is something that, too often, gets neglected.

    If buying the perfect gift that’s likely out of your budget, baking an exquisite dessert that can could compete with those made by Martha Stewart, attending drunk Uncle’s Thanksgiving dinner, decorating your home to look like a photo straight out of Town and Country magazine, all while managing your usual daily responsibilities leaves you feeling overwhelmed, you aren’t alone. Stress, anxiety, and depression can crush your holiday spirit and be detrimental to your physical and mental health.  

    In therapy, I too often work with patients who are experiencing burnout, depression, anxiety, damaged relationships, and physical exhaustion because, in great part, of their resistance to prioritize self-care during the holidays. It IS possible (and I assert imperative) to engage in some activity of self-care daily and especially during the holidays.

    Holiday traditions don’t have to be detrimental to our self-care. In fact, they can be a form of self-care. Traditions, by definition, are familiar. They are repetitive from year-to-year. And familiarity, unlike change, is helpful when our reserves are low. 

    So, how can you prioritize self-care during the holidays? Sometimes it just takes a little creativity:

    Connecting with others:

    So, you’re responsible for the apple pie…again. Include the kids or other family members in the tradition. You’ll get to pass along a tradition and connect with others at the same time. 

    Move your body:

    Not that interested in the Thanksgiving parade, dessert, or the football game? Use that opportunity to take a walk, maybe with a loved one so you can both move your body and connect with a loved one.

    Say no:

    One of the primary reasons that people struggle with feeling overwhelmed during the holidays is because they take on too many responsibilities. It is okay to say no (yes, even if you said yes for the past 10 years). It is also okay to suggest a less taxing alternative. Another request for your apple pie? “No, I can’t bake pie for the book club this year. I can, however, pick one up from the grocery store.” Learning to say no is a powerful tool that will become more comfortable with practice. 

    Ask for help:

    Yes, you’re awesome. But you can be awesome, strong, independent and still benefit from some help. Oh, it’s easier if you just do it yourself? Is it though? At what cost? Will you get less sleep? Will you be more irritable? Resentful much? You do not have to wait for someone to offer. Ask for help with the household chores, the kids or those errands. If nobody can help with those requests, ask someone to bring dessert or to come early to help you prepare. 

    Go to therapy:

    Let’s be honest. The holidays can be really difficult. Managing stress, dealing with difficult relationships, missing lost loved ones…these are all problems that therapy can assist with. With the option of telehealth, therapy is more convenient than ever. Prioritize your mental health by scheduling a session with your therapist. 

    Interested in participating in therapy to help you better manage stress? Contact Dr. Beverly Pedroche and inquire about availability.

    Author: Dr. Beverly Pedroche