Self-Care for the Holiday Season

Sheila Luna, CCH, CH, CSCH Clinic Manager

If I asked my clients for holiday-related words I would end up with a spectrum …

  • family, food, volunteerism, parties, travel, friends, decor, travel, shopping, excitement, joy
  • loneliness, hunger, depression, social isolation, financial issues, anxiety, stress, sadness

If you are one of those (many) people who experience stress and anxiety around the holiday season, we have some tips for you.

Prepare in advance

Start a self-care notebook and answer the following questions:

  • What does my body need to feel strong, resilient, and healthy? What personal needs must I be sure to honor? (For example: # hours of sleep a night, someone to regularly talk to, weekly massage, a high protein breakfast …)
  • What spiritual practices connect me to a Higher Power or my highest purpose? (For example; journaling, prayer, meditation)
  • What are my helpful coping strategies? (For example; 10-minute daily meditation, list-making, freezing meals, herbal remedies)
  • Who supports me, comforts me, and allows me to express my feelings?

Keep this notebook somewhere handy, and when you start to feel stress levels rise or the blues set in, refer to it.

Set boundaries

Boundaries set one thing in relationship to another and help to structure relationships.

Remember what is important to you and put your energy towards those things. You may have to decline a social invitation or decide not to prioritize getting your photo-cards mailed by the 25th of December, but this way you can focus your time and energy toward what really matters to you.

Do those things that really call to you, and give yourself permission to turn down the rest. Give yourself some space to honor your needs during this time.

To the best of your ability, decrease stress

Determine healthy ways that allow you to take a break from emotional stress.

Choose three self-care techniques to practice during the season. These don’t have to be time consuming. Some of my favorites are:

  • A 5-minute daily meditation right before bed (I use the app Simple Habit)
  • Daily 15-minute nature/photo walks
  • A daily herbal tea (or tincture when I don’t have time to prepare tea)

This takes 25 minutes out of my day but is invaluable to my mental and physical well-being.

Keep a personal journal and/or have someone you can share with

Studies in Positive Psychology have found that when we are traumatized, processing through writing can help us to grow from the experience. The key is to not just write about the event itself, but process using the written word by exploring your feelings and thoughts around the event itself. So, consider journaling.

Another area of support can be verbal sharing. Find someone in your life you can share your thoughts and feelings with. Practice empathetic listening as well and forming a supportive partnership.

Herbal help

Visit an herbalist (like us!) and get a custom-crafted support formula, or visit your local herb store or natural foods market and try a box of herbal tea or tincture. Some lovely herbs that provide support during this time may include; Milky Oats, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Tulsi, Skullcap, Rose, Hawthorn or Linden.

Some companies provide combinations of herbs in an alcohol base, called tinctures, that can be kept on your counter or in your purse or car, and taken when you feel you need a little extra support. This is such a quick, helpful way to practice self-care.

Of course, if you have a health condition or if you are on medications check with your herbalist and doctor first.

Talisman

Ok, so how do you remember to do these things daily on top of shopping for gifts, baking pies, parental obligations and social events? My favorite way is to create a talisman.

The talisman can just be a stone you carry in your pocket. Or you can get fancier …

I take a square or circle of cloth, put some pinches of herbs in the middle, and write an intention on a piece of paper. Keep the intention simple and doable. “5 Minutes of Self-Care a Day” or “Relaxation” or “Breathe.” Put the paper in with the herbs and tie a string around the top. I like to use aromatic herbs like Mint or Lavender. Keep the talisman in your pocket and whenever you notice it, check in with yourself and do something to follow your intention. Take five deep breaths. Take some tea or tincture. Schedule a massage. Do a 5-minute meditation. The herbal scent can also be a reminder.

Once you’ve done three things in one day, though, you are done for that day. Don’t let self-care practices stress you out!