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The Importance of Self-Care During This Holiday Season

For many of us, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is a whirlwind of festive gatherings and travel plans that can leave us feeling exhausted. Not to mention all the shopping, gift wrapping, decorating, cooking, sending cards, and other prepping that consumes our time in between. However, this holiday season, our cherished traditions are going to look and feel a lot different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gatherings with families, friends, and co-workers will be disrupted in some way whether the gatherings are smaller, held virtually, or are cancelled all together. But one thing remains the same: the holidays can still be a time filled with overwhelming stress!

While this holiday season may be filled with lots of uncertainty as traditions are adjusted, one thing we can control is how we respond to the stressors the season may bring upon us. So, for the season of giving, try exploring ways in which you can give to yourself. For example, this year create a plan of how you can implement a self-care routine as you prepare for the holidays.

So, what exactly is self-care? Self-care is the kind act of being mindful in how you take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health. While self-care can involve pampering yourself with a warm bubble bath, it can also mean making sure you are eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercise to help you stay physically and emotionally fit and to reduce the harmful effects of stress.

Implementing a good self-care plan does not need to be complicated or time consuming. Instead, simply integrating a couple of small positive changes into your routine can be beneficial to your emotional well-being. When we feel calm and refreshed, we are better able to handle the stressors the holidays may bring.

Here are some simple ways to integrate self-care into your routine:

Get enough rest: Although 7-8 hours of sleep each night is recommended for adults, for many of us, this is difficult to achieve. Many adults have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep all night. Developing a sleep hygiene plan can increase quality sleep. This includes going to bed at the same time each night along with getting up at the same time each morning, including weekends. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. Try removing electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom. Finally, avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. Treat Yourself: Often, the holidays are a time when we care for others and are left feeling drained and exhausted by the end of the season. This year, think about how you can treat yourself to something special. It can be a small treat such as a scented candle or perhaps making time to binge watch a show you have never had to the time to watch. It is okay to think of yourself and take care of your needs. By ensuring we are cared for, we are better able to care for those around us.

Take care of your body: While eating healthy food and exercising is not always the most fun form of self-care, it is highly critical to remember that taking care of your body will ultimately increase your emotional well-being. Taking time out to eat meals and integrating preferred healthy foods into your daily diet is essential to maintain energy.

Stop and breathe: Try to take a brief pause throughout the day to help calm and

refresh your mind and body. Simply stop to take some deep breaths in through

your nose, hold for a couple of seconds, and slowly breath out through your mouth

to de-escalate feelings of stress. Other quick refreshers can include stretching,

visualizing a relaxing place, taking a sip of water, or reading an inspirational quote.

These refreshers can have a deep relaxing impact on our minds, further calming our

bodies. A short pause in our day can have a big effect on our well-being.

Stay connected: For many people, one of the most difficult outcomes of the

COVID-19 quarantine is coping with the isolation we have had to endure over these

past eight months. Not being able to see loved ones during the holiday season can

trigger emotions such as sadness, anger, or loneliness. It is normal to feel these

feelings during these uncertain times. Even if you are not able to meet in person,

find creative ways to stay connected with supportive people. Sharing a meal or

holding a happy hour over Zoom is just one creative way to stay connected and

share festivities.

So, remember that this holiday season, it is just as important to care for yourself as

you would normally care for others. Taking time to be mindful and practicing some

of these suggested self-care tips can have a big impact on your emotional well-

being this season.

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