The Holiday season brings cheer, joy, stress, and fuller schedules. We can get so wrapped up in celebrating our loved ones and observing family traditions, that it takes a toll on our own well-being. Even as our family and friends attempt to shower us with holiday cheer, stress and distraction can prevent us from receiving love and enjoying the season, and instead lead to stress overload, unhappiness, and weight gain.
We have a responsibility to ourselves to remember and practice our self-care, especially this time of year. This is the time to create a plan to take care of yourself along with everyone else this holiday season. Our loved ones will benefit from this endeavor and we will begin 2021 with energy, joy, and focus instead of an empty tank.
A complete self-care plan includes each of the 5 Pillars of Wellness: physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. We often focus solely on our physical well-being, but all five are equally important. This holiday season let us encourage you to gift yourself by observing the 5 Pillars of Wellness.
Pillar 1: Physical Wellness:
- Commit to a consistent exercise regimen. Exercising promotes endorphins, builds strength, reduces stress levels, and promotes a healthy immune system. Incorporate some sort of physical activity 3 – 5 times per week for optimal physical well-being.
- Nourish and fuel your body with high quality vegetables and whole foods. These will help to power us through our longer days and will support your physical and emotional well-being. Also, limit alcohol consumption because it hinders your sleep patterns and makes you feel lethargic during the days.
- Prioritize sleep. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night in order to optimize your mental, physical, and emotional processes.
Pillar 2: Mental Wellness
- Focus on what we can control rather than what we can not control, including our thoughts, decisions, and actions.
- Try journaling. After a long day or a significant event, you may feel confused and not be able to make sense of your feelings. By writing down your thoughts, you may be able to think more clearly and move forward.
- Exercise your mind by logging off of social media and instead enjoying a book, completing a crossword puzzle, or playing a game with a friend or family member.
- Make to-do lists to keep your brain on task and to not get distracted with other less important items.
- If you feel like you’re losing your balance, don’t feel ashamed to seek the help of a mental health provider. You don’t need to have a psychiatric illness to see someone; “too much stress” is a perfectly valid reason to speak with a professional.
Pillar 3: Spiritual Wellness
- Ask yourself: Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I value most? These questions will lead you down a road where you will think more in-depth about yourself and allow you to notice things about yourself that will help you achieve fulfillment.
- Take 10 – 30 minutes a day to meditate, pray or practice mindfulness in other ways to calm your mind and connect with yourself.
Pillar 4: Social Wellness
- Be open to understanding other people’s beliefs and traditions this Holiday Season. Exploring diversity and interacting with those of another culture, background, or belief can be eye-opening and rewarding.
- Spend time with friends or family you enjoy. Although social guidelines prevent us from gathering, you can FaceTime, Zoom, or even go for a walk outside to catch up.
- If you are overwhelmed and feeling pulled in five different directions, it’s okay to say “no” to requests that drain your energy.
Pillar 5: Emotional Wellness:
- Explore coping mechanisms to deal with stress, anger, and anxiety instead of keeping them bottled up inside. How can you release and move forward?
- At the end of each day, celebrate and acknowledge your “wins” – anything you did that made you feel good. It could be a walk in the park, a phone call to a loved one, a great workout or massage, or simply being truly present for your loved ones.
- Get out into nature! Simply getting out into nature to feel the air and connect with your surroundings will help to clear your mind and refocus your thoughts.
- Get support from a mental health provider if you need an extra boost.
Our challenge to you is to build these pillars into each day from December 10th – December 31st. Take time to focus on yourself and gift yourself well-being every day. It takes three weeks to form new habits so you can begin 2021 with firmly established healthy habits.