Avoid Becoming The Grinch: 5 Simple Holiday Self-Care Tips
As a psychologist, my practice becomes very busy this time of year which tells me that the holidays aren’t merry for all! Stress can crush your holiday spirit and be detrimental to your mental health. If you’re feeling more like the Grinch than Cindy-Lou, keep reading!
In therapy, I often work with patients who are experiencing burnout, depression, anxiety, damaged relationships, and physical exhaustion because, in great part, of their difficulties prioritizing 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? I have good news for you! Self-care isn’t about time or money.
Self-care is anything you do (or don’t do) to “fill up your gas tank.” Daily responsibilities require gas from our human (emotional and physical) gas tank. Like a car, if you don’t refuel, you’ll stall out. Self-care is your fuel. Self-care fosters resilience and helps you to become better equipped to manage stress. Self-care differs from person-to-person and can be relaxing or invigorating, intellectual or spiritual, physical or emotional.
So, how can you prioritize self-care during the holidays? It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Connect 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. Isolation is detrimental to mental health so be sure to prioritize spending quality time with those who matter to you.
Move your body:
Not that interested in the Thanksgiving parade or the football game? Use that opportunity to put down the phone, stop doom-scrolling, and take a walk, maybe with a loved one so you can connect with a loved one (see above) while moving your body.
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’ve 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 this year, but I can pick one up from up the bakery.” 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 and strong 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 where therapy can be helpful. With the option of telehealth, therapy is more convenient than ever. Prioritize your mental health by scheduling a session with your therapist.
You aren’t alone if you need extra support during this time of year.
Author: Dr. Beverly J. Pedroche