As we near the end of 2017, I find myself talking with clients about the busy-ness of this season and just getting through the holidays. I often hear things like:
“I can’t wait until the holidays are over.”
“We’re so busy right now. It’s exhausting.”
“I just can’t find time for myself during the holidays.”
Doing self-care is even more challenging during the holidays because our time is increasingly more limited. We are constantly bombarded with parties, family and friend gatherings, cooking and baking more than usual, gift exchanges, and other seasonal obligations. Things like self-care tend to slip through the cracks unless we intentionally prioritize them. And honestly, if self-care is low on the totem pole of priorities, you’ve set yourself up for exhaustion right from the start.
Let’s rewind a bit. “Self-care” is one of those popular phrases in the therapy world that has gone mainstream in recent years. When most people think of self-care, they imagine exercising, eating right, and getting enough sleep. Maybe some imagine getting massages, manicures, and pedicures as part of the self-care routine as well. However, this is only a small part of what self-care includes. Virginia Satir, a renowned family therapist, believed there were actually eight different facets of self-care. She coined the entirety of these components the “self-care mandala”. I prefer to view these eight pieces like so:
If you think about it, the ideas of self-care mentioned above are all physical (and a little nutritional) aspects of self-care. However, there is so much more to someone than just their physical being. How often do you think about your emotional self-care? Or spiritual? How about contextual? My guess is not too often. Or at least you haven’t viewed them in this light. But if you begin to see each of these components as self-care, where are you falling short? What are you doing well? Where can you strengthen some areas?
Now let’s bring it back to self-care during the holidays. Because your time is limited and self-care does take some intentional time, you’ve got to become a prioritization ninja. Here are three quick guidelines to get you going:
Start recognizing your behaviors when you have some free time. Ask yourself honestly if you are spending this time wisely and doing real self-care. A good way to check this is if you feel the activity you are choosing to engage in is numbing for you or if it’s fulfilling for you. Scrolling the news feed on Facebook or playing Candy Crush may be distractions from the day’s events, but are they fulfilling activities? Do you feel refreshed and renewed after them? If not, what could you do instead that would address where you need some self-care? (Hint: review the mandala for ideas!)
Assess how much time you have to accomplish a self-care activity. You can do anything from a 5-minute body scan meditation to creating some artwork in a couple of hours. Know that however much free time you have, you can always do something. There may not be as much time as you usually have to accomplish what you’d like, but if you’re doing something worthy and fulfilling in that small amount of time, you’ll feel so much better.
Putting boundaries in place and saying no can be one of the best things you do for self-care. This time of year can revolve around other people and their expectations for you. At a certain point, you may have to just say no or at least, not right now. If you are overextended in your obligations and responsibilities, you’re not going to enjoy the time you’re spending with those you care about. You’ll likely feel resentful and even more exhausted. So do yourself a favor and don’t say yes to everything.
Now that you have some ninja guidelines, you can begin practicing self-care more effectively. And if you can do it well enough during the holidays, you can definitely do it throughout the entire year.
If these ideas seem great, but they are hard to implement by yourself, I'd love to help guide you more effectively. Please contact me at 720-381-2755 or by email at tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com. Let's work together and help you do self-care the right way.