Thanksgiving is over so now the full-on, Christmas and holiday craziness is here. Parties, wish lists, shopping, wrapping, decorating. Feel like hiding under a rock?
This has been a challenging year for many, and sometimes the holidays are the last thing we want to face. If you have a challenging caregiving situation with your kids or your elderly loved ones, have had a taxing family illness or if you have lost a loved one over the past year, the holidays can actually give more stress and anxiety than joy.
What is Self Care
Self-care is all about what you need moment to moment in the face of these demands. Checking in about "What do I need most?" before you even get out of bed in the morning — then as often as you can throughout the day — will help you figure out what you need at that moment. ALL feelings of self care needs are important to acknowledge. Sometimes the key to self care is not going off and DOING something for yourself….it’s often about NOT doing something!
Your Personal Holiday List to Check Twice!
At Torchlight, we fervently follow guidelines of self care for ourselves and suggest these for our employees. Here are our top suggestions for you as the holiday season kicks into full gear:
Lower Your Expectations and “Requirements”
Ask yourself, "Does this really need to be the year I start giving handmade gifts?" Perhaps supporting your local artists will meet the need you have for giving a creative gift for that special someone in your life. Maybe there was a special event in 2017 that you'd like to remember and you can order 10 of the same item for everyone in your family.
The same goes for teacher gifts. You do NOT need to make homemade limoncello liquor for each child’s teacher! An old-fashioned thank you card or drawing from your child will be just as appreciated and save you lots of time and money. Traditions are a wonderful way to instill family memories in our children, but consider choosing just one instead of trying to tackle all of them. Maybe you don’t need to do the Elf on the Shelf, homemade handprints, 10 kinds of cookies and a family play all this year!
Take a Break from a Chore or “Must Do”
Use paper plates; order your groceries online and have them delivered; serve breakfast for dinner. Every once in awhile won't hurt! Now, think about the items on your current to-do list. Which ones make you feel tired and drained before you even start them? Brainstorm ways to take a break from these first. For instance, if there is no real way to move forward with your child's IEP or some other unresolved issue with the school because of the time of year, let yourself off the hook until such time as you can effectively address it.
Maybe this is the year you send Happy New Year cards after the rush is over — or skip the cards all together!!! A quick social media post can scratch that off your to-do list in short order!
Perhaps there are household routines you can relax or modify, too, like spending an entire Saturday to clean the house like you always do. Instead, set a timer for 20 minutes at the end of most nights and make it a family event. Enroll the kids in the new, beat-the-clock game and have them pick up and put away their belongings until the timer goes off. Once the 20 minutes have lapsed, congratulate yourself for all that got accomplished and resist the urge to set it again!
Balance Doing with Being
Spending your vacation days holiday shopping with the crowds? Driving the kids to and from playdates or activities? Even though many days during the holiday season are a flurry of activities and logistical maneuvers, try as much as possible to use this time to be present to yourself and to them. Watch them play. Join in for a bit or just sit in a chair (head-nodding allowed!). Read together. Be. Or go about your day — no time to sit this week!! — repeating a new mantra: "No one or nothing will make me rush today." or "There is enough time to accomplish all I need." These phrases when repeated often enough really can slow down and calm your nervous system, yet keep you productive at the same time.
There is something about fresh air, isn't there? This tip is about getting more of it. It’s actually been proven that the outdoors can therapeutic to one’s wellbeing. Bundle up and try an early morning walk with your phone on mute or leave your window cracked at night. If you can't make it outside very often because of your circumstances, then stop and take a moment when you are making your way to and from your car to notice the breeze, or the temperature of the air, or any birds singing nearby.
Be there for You
All it takes is a moment to shift your attention and bring yourself back to center. Along with the above, take it from two self care experts. Deepak Chopra recommends meditating for 10 to 20 minutes a day in order to bring your mind and body into harmony. Dr. Nancy Snyderman suggests “running away” for a fast recharge. “Tell your family you love them, but that you need a brief getaway,” she says. “They’ll be fine. It is not selfish, it’s self-preservation.”
Effective self care can literally just be about pulling yourself out of a stressful moment and back into center. Give yourself a gift this holiday season. Be there for yourself!