Happier Holidays Come With Self-Care
One gift we’ll all get this holiday season is more stress, along with a stocking full of worries about making everything perfect.
That’s why self-care is so important from now to the New Year – and beyond.
“It’s a busy time, but also a time when emotions due to loss, grief, or business and financial worries are all present,” said Kandace Brands, Avera Health Educator with Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine. “We remind patients that taking care of yourself is not selfish. I like to use the ‘oxygen mask’ analogy. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can be our best and be there for others.”
Anyone can feel pulled in many directions, or feel like they should be with family when work calls. But it can backfire.
“When I make time for regular exercise, personal devotion time and also time with friends, I truly am a better mom, wife, health coach and more,” she said. “My actual time with my husband and kids might be a bit less, but it’s much more focused and of a higher quality.”
Her suggestions for self-care through this holiday season include:
The holidays are a great reminder of the people in our life, as well as those we miss. “If you’re experiencing grief, keep working through it. It’s OK to be sad, but use it to be thankful for the wonderful years you had,” she said. “It’s also a good time to consider how you can expand friendships, meet new people and work on sharing more of your life.”
Asking a close friend to join you on a walk, calling friends for a get-together dinner or joining a Bible study are great ways to foster relationships.
Invest in some good cold-weather gear so you can go for walks no matter the temperature. “Getting fresh air is good for the soul. A good workout wakes up every cell in our body,” said Brands. “Exercise helps us secrete feel-good hormones, too. So if you feel down, get on the treadmill and get a good sweat going.”
Remember Spiritual Health
Research shows that when we allow time for prayer or meditation, we can improve our health. “We live in such a hurried world, we often forget this aspect,” said Brands. “We work so much better as human beings when we recognize we need help, and when we reach out for it in prayer.”
Get Good Sleep Nightly
Try to reduce or eliminate the use of blue lights in the evening, eat healthy throughout the day and decrease stimulants such as coffee and soda. All can help you can develop a good sleep pattern. You cannot “bank” sleep – so stay regular and devote a good eight hours (at least) to it, every day.
See Food as Fuel
If we put the wrong food in our bodies, we will see ours break down or not “run” well. “Beautiful veggies, good quality proteins, brightly colored fruits, plenty of water, and healthy fats are foods to focus on for the holidays. If you have a party, consider bringing healthy options so that you can always eat what you take and not feel guilty.
- Schedule yourself a massage. It’s a worthy, stress-relieving investment.
- Join a hot yoga, spin or Zumba class – you can develop camaraderie and a great workout.
- Shop with health in mind: get new shoes, a fitness tracking device or a gym membership. “I bought a Vitamix last year, and I use it almost every day for smoothies and other healthy snacks,” Brands said.
- Schedule a session with a counselor if you’re overwhelmed, and work through thoughts and feelings with a professional. They can offer tools to help you thrive as well as survive.