As humans, we are constantly subjected to varying amounts of stress each day yet we may not do anything to “cleanse” the build up. Just like we wash our physical bodies as part of physical hygiene, it is important to practice emotional and mental hygiene. Think of self -care as the practices that assist with washing away some of the emotional and mental debris from the day.
The holiday season is upon us. Unfortunately, this time of year is not always jolly and may be quite stressful for some. Factors that contribute to feeling down or overwhelmed may be more pronounced during the holiday season. Therefore, the ability to cope that seemed “fine” during the previous months may not be as adequate. Time with family and friends, more financial obligations, office holiday parties and travel can all contribute to emotional distress. The feeling of being alone or isolated may also increase. In addition, being surrounded by messages that one “should” feel happy during this time of year may create pressure to “put on a happy face.” It is okay to feel how you feel. However, it is important to find ways to reduce the level of distress.
Caring for self sounds like a simple concept but many people find it difficult to practice. Not every self-care practice works for everyone so it may take a few tries to see how you feel. Many of the tools in the “Self-Love Starter” kit are also ways to take care of yourself during the holiday season and beyond. Here are a few more:
• Practice gratitude
• Spend time with one or two friends in lieu of large gatherings
• Spend time in nature
• Disconnect from social media for 48 – 72 hours
• Write in a journal (if you find writing difficult, try a “one sentence” journal or a journal that has writing prompts)
• Set new goals
• Listen to music
• Practice breathing exercises
• Attend a cooking class
There is a difference between feeling down and depression. If you are experiencing hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, loss of pleasure, and low motivation or if you or others around you have expressed concern, seek support from a mental health professional