As the holiday season is fast approaching, it is important for those working in helping professions to prioritize or add to their self-care routine. As care providers, we are more regularly exposed to the realities of life; the highs but more often the lows. While we work hard to support others in finding a sense of grounding and safety, we are also navigating the ups and downs of our own lives. When we feel a lack of control, it can trigger a need to turn to quick fixes or unhealthy ways of coping in order to distract or numb. For some, it might look like becoming hyperfocused on work, for others, it is turning to food or substances.
During the holidays, emotions tend to be heightened for many people. In addition to your clients, your loved ones and colleagues may also come to you for support or as an ear to vent, leaving you holding even more emotional baggage. Addressing stress in non-restorative ways can lead to constantly feeling tired or burned out. Your body may also retaliate by becoming sick with a cold or, upset stomach, or intense headaches/migraines.
Additionally, stress triggers tend to multiply due to added pressures around holiday traditions and expectations. Social gatherings with friends, family, and coworkers can trigger critical self-assessments and comparisons. This can further fuel feelings of sadness, loneliness, and unhealthy ways of coping. Here are a few self-care recommendations to implement in your routine:
- Prioritize your sleep. Make sure you are keeping to a consistent bedtime as much as possible. With the influx of holiday events, your body may benefit from taking a nap. Allowing yourself one for about 20 minutes, even just on weekends, can help restore energy levels. And keeping it short will give you that reset without throwing off your sleep cycle.
- Cold weather may prohibit extended outdoor activities, but making sure you get some fresh air and sunshine daily will help decrease anxiety and depression symptoms. Further, whether you like to exercise or not, light movement such as stretching, dancing, or going to a class will help you feel stronger and connected to your body.
- It’s OK to say no. Reminding yourself of this is key in order to pay attention to your needs first without getting overwhelmed with guilt or getting talked into something you don’t want to do. Being clear and keeping boundaries with your time as well as taking time off can help prevent fatigue as well as resentment.
- Spend time around positive people. This can’t always be the case when holidays can involve forced time with gloomy family members. Make sure that you counteract those engagements by planning an activity with someone you can be yourself around, bonus if they are skilled at making you laugh.