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Here come the holidays, are you ready?

Some of us will find joy and excitement in the upcoming festivities and celebrations, while others will approach them with apprehension and anxiety. Maybe you can't wait to sink your teeth into the delicious foods you only see once a year or maybe you think about the weight that comes with indulging. You may love the sites and sounds with the hustle and bustle, or you find little time for the intrusion into your daily life. Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle, where you enjoy the food, but the constant activities are draining; crowds, shopping, family, travelling, etc., it can be overwhelming.

Whether you land on one end or the other of the spectrum or somewhere in the middle, we all have to remember to do self care so we can 'enjoy the season' or at least 'get through it with minimal damage'. So today we will look at self care. There are many layers to self care: physical, social, mental, spiritual and emotional to mention a few. Self care doesn't just happen, as a matter of fact, it won't happen at all if you don't schedule time for it!

Let's start with our physical care first. To begin with, make sure you are getting the proper amount of sleep. The holidays demand more energy as we add activities that are not part of our normal routine. Keep your schedule as close as possible to your regular routine; get up and go to sleep at the same time each day. Allow yourself time to unwind in the evenings with a good book or a relaxing bath. In the morning, wake up and greet the day with a few stretches. Enjoy some quiet time before you start checking off your to do list.

Eat a healthy breakfast of oatmeal & blueberries with a few walnuts added. Or a smoothie with yogurt, spinach, berries, flax and banana. Be creative, there are so many great choices, just be sure to feed your body good foods! Carry that on throughout the day. Leave the high calorie goodies for the actual holiday feasts. You'll have more energy and less regret when it actually comes time to indulge! Don't forget to add a little dark chocolate to your diet.

Be sure to continue your exercise routine. Let's be honest, it's easy to drop something from our schedule when we add all the extra activities around the holidays. When we exercise we gain energy and joy with all those endorphins being released, not to mention that we are doing something great for our body! There are a lot of ways to work exercise into our day, it doesn't have to be going to the gym. Take the dog for a walk. Play ball with the kids. Work up a sweat! Again, get creative. So, if you must let something go by the wayside, don't sacrifice exercise, your body and mind need it. Also be sure to stay hydrated.

Make sure you are spending quality time with people. Your partner, your kids, a family member outside of your home, or a friend. People get lost in the busyness of the season. Set aside some time during the season to spend time with those you love. Maybe dinner out with your spouse, a game with the kids, lunch or coffee with a friend. Take in a play or a musical. Take time to enjoy being face to face with one another.

Keep your mind sharp. When we are on full tilt with the holiday demands, we not only wear our bodies out, we get mentally fatigued. Try something new to exercise your mind: work a jigsaw puzzle or do a crossword puzzle. Learn a new board game. Turn the TV off and stimulate your mind. There are endless possibilities!

We have a spirit, so we do not want to neglect that any more than our physical bodies. Live a life of gratitude and thankfulness. What better time to be aware of that than during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Faith, hope and love. There is so much to be thankful for, especially after the past year and a half or so. If you attend religious services, there are likely special events to experience nearby. If you meditate or pray, spend time without rushing through it. Be in the moment.

The holidays can bring to the surface an awful lot of emotions, both healthy and unhealthy. We need to manage them. Two healthy emotions are joy and happiness. Good memories from times past can flood us with warm feelings of love and appreciation. However, they can also fill us with sadness or regret when we reflect on loss. Our expectations during the holidays can be, at times, unrealistic. We want everything to be perfect, it never is. We think it was perfect in the past, it never was. It's not usually as wonderful or as awful as we remember. Try to keep your expectations in check, that will keep your disappointment where it needs to be as well. So again, gratitude and living in each moment.

Other emotions that tend to rise during the holidays are anger, agitation, and frustration, just to name a few of the unhealthy ones. It's a busy time. Lots of crowds. People forget how to drive or their manners.

Rudeness doesn't take a break during the season, if anything, it tends to be front and center. (Maybe it's someone who is trying to do it all and has forgotten to do their self care and they are running on empty. Maybe they aren't aware they cut you off or took your place in line. Give them grace if you can, it helps you in the long run). Keep a check on how you react to those rude behaviors or mistakes. Do your self care so that you will be able to handle those difficult emotions if they rise up to intrude on your celebration.

Depression is another emotion that tends to visit more often around the holidays. Reach out to someone you know is down and encourage them. If you are the one who is fighting depression, reach out to a friend and share how you are feeling or find a place to volunteer. Maybe a homeless shelter, a senior center or an animal shelter, it doesn’t matter. Volunteer where there is a need. Give of yourself and you will be blessed. People need people. The holidays can be lonely. Care for yourself and care for others. Spread love and don't hold back! Give generously, especially this year.

Finally, enjoy the season! Remember to do self care. Get a massage for yourself to help relax during this busy time. Think of someone you know who could use a reminder to do a little self care and consider buying them a gift card to start out the season relaxed and ready to go!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas! May all your days be days of grace and gratitude...

Published by Kathleen Christoffer



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