Self Care During the Holidays
Blog by Ashley Simpson, LCSW at Agape Therapy Institute
The holiday season can be a stressful time for everyone. If you have a history of negative memories during the holidays, strained relationships with family, financial stress, loss, and the list goes on… the holidays are infinitely more stressful. So… what are some things that we can do to take care of ourselves during this time?
- Take some down time.
Often, businesses and schools are closed for a time during December. Schedule some time for yourself. Guilt free. If you have kids this can be after they are in bed or while they are in the care of someone else. Take some time to do something that you genuinely enjoy. And may I add, taking time away from social media, email, and probably your phone in general, during this down time is highly recommended.
- Keep things simple.
There can be a lot of pressure at the holidays. To buy the right gift. To make the perfect dish. To have the perfect decorations. To be there for everyone and every event on everyone else’s schedule. Practice saying “No” when you need to. Pare down your schedule, your shopping list, etc. Think about what you truly value and focus your energy and time on that.
- Practice gratitude.
With everything going on in 2020 this may seem impossible at times. Take a moment to sit by yourself. Close your eyes, and when you think of the word “gratitude”, what is the first thing that pops into your head? Does the image of someone’s face appear? Do you hear laughter? Do you imagine a beautiful day in your favorite place? Take a few minutes to sit with the word “gratitude” and see what comes up for you.
- Acknowledge all of your feelings.
2020 has been a year. This year the holidays may look different for you than in years past. You may not be able to travel, to be with people you love. You may have lost someone this year. Grief can have an extra sting at the holidays. Acknowledge feelings of loss, sadness, anger, etc. If you have lost someone, this may be a good time to do something to remember them. Visit a place that reminds you of them. Acknowledge them in some way in your home. Take some time to sit with memories of them. Creating a ritual to acknowledge your loss can help you cope with these feelings. If you have long-lasting sadness and trouble functioning in areas of your life due to these feelings of grief, I encourage you to seek out a counselor or grief support group. You may need some additional support in dealing with your loss.
- Find some magic.
At this time of year you can find twinkly lights after dark, hear soft, happy music playing, smell people cooking their favorite comfort food. There are a lot of things at this time of year that can bring joy. If you did not get to experience this magic as a child, give yourself permission to experience this now, in this moment.
For example: Look at the holiday lights as if you have never seen them before. Gaze at them as if you were a child. Take a moment to stand in front of them and really look. Notice the care with which the person put them up. The patterns, the colors, everything you see. Notice how this makes you feel. Find your inner smile.
Take time for yourself, find simple moments of joy, and seek your spirit of thankfulness and magic. Doing so can increase your feelings of pleasure during this time and reduce your stress. If this time of year is triggering for you due to childhood trauma, complicated family dynamics, grief, etc., I encourage you to speak with a therapist about this. Talking about and resolving these issues can help you to move forward and make new memories.