The holidays can be a stressful time full of both financial stress and strain as well as eustress or good stress in the excitement of seeing others and being with loved ones. Some people are not as fortunate as others in that the holidays are a rather sad time full of memories of lost loved ones or thoughts of what 'could have been'. These few months are given a lot of attention and go by in an instant. We spend our time and our money on other people and things, which is important and can make us feel good, but at times we forget to take care of ourselves.
Self-care is an important concept when we are exploring the different aspects of our quality of life. At times that are stressful we tend to forget that our stress can be curbed by activities that focus on ourselves. Self-care includes main different sub-headings such as spiritual self-care, physical, mental and emotional self-care. All of these can become affected by stress that is associated with the holidays and the attention that we feel is necessary to pay to others. Ways that we can tell if our quality of life is being affected during the holidays is if we are more fatigued than normal, irritability, appetite changes, sleep hygiene issues, feelings of depression and anxiety, and even unhealthy coping techniques such as excessive drinking.
Although these symptoms are common during other times of the year, they seem to come out more around the holidays. I am not saying stop buying gifts for friends, or making meals for your family or even volunteering at a shelter. I am encouraging everyone, myself included, to remember that in order to take care of others to the best of our ability, we must first remember to take care of ourselves. If the holidays are particularly a hard time for you or your family I encourage you to remember those you may have lost or to try and get out among other people in order to not feel isolated during these times. Some ideas for self-care would be: taking an hour to sit and read a book, journaling or talking to someone whom you trust, exercising, eating healthy, going to the spa, taking a nap, curling up by the fire with your favorite warm beverage, meditating and even picking up a new hobby.
Spend money on yourself in the form of going out to lunch or dinner, or maybe getting a manicure that you have not been able to get. Above all else it is about balance. Finding a balance between taking care of others and taking care of ourselves will be what gets us through not only the stress of the holidays but the stresses in life. It is often taught in addictions facilities that "On an airplane, an oxygen mask descends in front of you. What do you do? As we all know, the first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and one of the most often forgotten—things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit, too."
Think about these things as we enter into the holiday season and if more help is needed than just giving yourself a manicure or taking time out for a nap, know that there are people you can talk to that can help navigate you through the tough time.
Happy holidays and remember YOU are important too!