Self care can be anything that leaves you feeling recharged from breathing exercises and meditation or going for a walk to watching a tv show or movie or catching up with friends for coffee. It doesn't have to take up a lot of time as long as it leaves you feeling recharged and ready to take on the world.
If you have a mental illness you will know all about self care and how important it is but even if you don't suffer with one, self care is still important and it's especially important around the holiday season.
It can be hard to keep of track things around the holiday season and next thing you know your calendar filled up and you're running around with a few hundred things on your mind. At this point you are probably feeling overwhelmed, stressed and really wanting a break, not that you will get one as life is so busy. This is when you need to schedule in self care so you can handle everything that is thrown at you plus the usual stuff (like sleeping, eating well and remembering to exercise).
Here are some easy ways to practice self care so you won't feel snowed under during the holiday season:
- Schedule it in - set alarm reminders to take a break or block out a couple of hours during the day just to recharge. Self care doesn't have to take up huge parts of your life just enough to recharge your batteries.
- Stick to your normal routine as much as possible (in terms of healthy eating, exercise and sleep) - it can be so easy for healthy eating to go out the window this time of year (so many parties and gatherings!), sticking to your exercise habits, and making sure you are getting enough sleep, but make an effort to. Give yourself some breaks as after all it is the holiday season but try not to make it something you do often.
- Don't be afraid to say no - I find it really hard to say no but it's totally ok to! Don't feel like you have to go to every event you get invited too or participate in every family tradition. The same goes if someone asks you for a favour you can totally say no! Give yourself some get out of jail free cards and don't be afraid to use them. Also don't make up elaborate excuses the chances are they won't be needed, if they need an explanation just say you need a chance to recharge or you have other plans (they don't need to know it's with Netflix or a good book!).
- Prioritise - just like Santa is making lists and checking them twice, so should you! Write a list of everything you have to do eg buy Christmas presents, wrap gifts, spend some time with the family, go to the gym, text that friend about that thing, clean the house... and prioritise them in order of importance. Once you tick them off go back through the list and reprioritise adding in self care when needed depending on how you feel. Don't be afraid to start with small tasks first so you won't feel overwhelmed.
- Learn to switch off - it's easy at this time of year for our mind to be on a million and one things all hours of the day but self care is time to focus on you! Figure out ways to switch off your mind whether that be by breathing exercises or mediation or by doing something that diverts your mind like doing a puzzle or watching an intense tv show.
For more information on self care ReachOut has published the following articles:
- Coping with the stress of Christmas
- 6 strategies for self care
- 5 ways to get in the habit of self care