It’s that time of year again! Holiday music and cheer, family gatherings, reunions with friends and loved ones, work parties, and the long list of tasks you would like to accomplish during the holiday season, right before the New Year kicks in. With so much going on, it is sometimes rather difficult for us to engage in acts of self-care. You may be thinking, “What is self-care?” or, “That sounds so silly, you want me to just take care of myself?” or even, “How can I take care of myself when I have a million other things to do?”
Self-care is when we deliberately participate in an activity in order to enhance our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Engaging in acts of self-care improves our mood, decreases feelings of anxiety, and allows our bodies to refuel and recharge. When this occurs, we in turn enable ourselves to be present in the moment, engage in meaningful interactions with family, friends, and loved ones, and feel whole once again.
Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you continue to take care of yourself during this busy time of year:
1. Schedule fun, physical activities– Engaging in physical activity supports us in reducing stress and improving mood. Try to schedule a physical activity within your daily routine, even if only for 10 minutes. Some longer, planned, holiday activities can include walking around the streets of NYC to admire the holiday lights and holiday windows, and ice skating. If you are not a fan of the cold weather, you can plan fun, indoor activities to do with friends, family, or even by yourself, including visiting museums and art galleries, or attending a workout class.
2. Mindfulness and meditation– Practice deep breathing exercises, listen to relaxing music, or engage in a guided imagery exercise- identify and visualize a positive scene, place, or experience in your mind that can help you relax and focus on the present.
3. Gratitude lists– Identify and state what you are grateful for on a daily basis. When we identify what we are grateful for, we experience an increase in happiness and well-being.
4. Say “no” when needed– It is easy to become over-booked with commitments and obligations during the holiday season, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, with little time to focus on yourself. Remind yourself that saying “no” is not selfish, but rather, demonstrates self-compassion and allows you to put your own needs first.
5. Sleep– Consistent, quality sleep is key during the holiday season. Continue to engage in your nighttime routine and aim to sleep for seven to nine hours a night. Try to reduce the use of electronic devices two hours, one hour, or even 30 minutes before bed, and decrease caffeine consumption in the evening.
6. Identify and accept feelings– Monitor the many feelings you are experiencing during the holiday time- I find it can be helpful to journal. When we experience difficult emotions, we sometimes eat and drink those feelings away. Instead, accept that is it completely normal to not experience “good vibes only” as we hear and see so often in the media, and be kind with yourself.
Cheers to a wonderful holiday season filled with laughter, love, and self-care!
Melissa Horowitz, LMSW is an associate therapist practicing at Liz Morrison Therapy located in Manhattan. For more information, please visit www.LizMorrisonTherapy.com or call 347.758.2985.