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  • Lemuel Tan

Tips for Christmas & Holiday Self-Care

Christmas and the festive seasons are known for its joy and cheerfulness. However, for some, this period can be eclipsed by family challenges, an insurmountable list of things to do, office datelines, obligations, grief, anxiety, loneliness, etc. The heightened stress may negatively impact one’s immunity system making the individual more vulnerable to physical illness and health problems. These may include things like anxiety, sleep issues, distress tolerance and other physical health problems.

As tis the season of sharing, AURE: Psychology, Counselling & Therapy would like to impart some tips of self-care management:


Planning

How you use your time is really important. As Benjamin Franklin once said “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. Creating a 'Needs Vs Want' list can be helpful. For example: Do I really need to scrub that oven before Christmas or is this a want? Effective time management is about focusing on the “needs” over the wants which are usually an emotional response.


Value what is important

You may or may not be able to complete the whole list of things to do. It can be frustrating and, to some, distressing. This is when you take pause and do a “value exploration”. What do I really value here? Is the toy that I am chasing for my child really more valuable than choosing to self-care so I can be emotionally present for my family? No “thing” is worth more than your emotional experience with those around you. 'Delaying impulsivity' and 'focusing on what is important' are a useful strategies to hold in mind.


You can say “no”

Along side valuing what is important, you can say ‘no’. Saying ‘no’ can be challenging for some. The need to please others or to give in to others to make oneself feel okay is a common reason for not saying ‘no’. It is important to acknowledge the feelings and fears of not saying ‘no’ as it serves a function to “protect” the individual. However, when you say ‘no’ you are actually choosing to take care of yourself. You are valuing what is truly important. Rehearsing and practicing how you plan to say ‘no’ helps with confidence.


Contentment is great gain

There is a fair amount of research on gratitude and thankfulness. Contentment on the other hand is about sitting with how things are regardless of it being good or bad. It is about learning how to appreciate what you have instead of what you want. Research has shown that being grateful and thankful has shown to improve physical and mental health. Contentment requires intentionality. Take pause and look around your room. Be intentional about naming the things that you see in your room. Reflect on how you obtained them and the last time you used them. Be thankful that you have it with you.


Show kindness to others and yourself

Kindness is the ‘antidote’ for trauma and emotional distress. It provides a soothing balm to the survival brain. ‘The season of giving’ presents us an opportunity to be kind to others and oneself. Our consumerism and cultural pressures have contorted the core message of love and kindness giving into a “must buy” or “must do”. There is no must in kindness, it is a gift with no obligation.

Sensory awareness

Christmas with its bells and whistles can be quite overwhelming for some. Our five senses can be overloaded with information resulting in us feeling drained and fatigued. This is especially so for younger children or individuals struggling with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorders, anxiety disorder, etc. The sight, sound, taste, touch and smell can be so overwhelming (over-responsive) that it may result in avoidance behaviours or behaviour problems in younger children (such as shouting, tantrums, etc.). Understanding and being aware of your own individual sensory needs can be helpful – senses that overwhelm you (sensory avoidance) and senses that make you feel calmer (sensory seeking).


Get support

Human beings are made for relationships. If you are feeling alone or lonely, consider reaching out and talking to someone. The fear of asking for support is real as many people do not want to feel judged or be seen as needy. Getting support is not just about talking, it could be an email, a text or just hanging out with a friend.


For others, Christmas can be a time of isolation as the people you love may no longer be around due to estrangement, bereavement, divorce, break-ups, health problems, or even fertility and pregnancy problems. Remember that your emotions are real and that it is normal to grieve. Remember that even though you have suffered a loss you still deserve other relationships.


It is also 100% okay to be alone. Aloneness is not the same as loneliness. Being alone is perfectly normal and sometimes finding the time to be alone during a busy holiday period can be a healthy way to recharge your batteries. It is a good time for reflection, practice being thankful and a chance to explore what is truly valuable to you.



Disclaimer: The material on this blog is not to be used by any commercial or personal entity without expressed written consent of the blog's author. The article above is an opinion of an individual clinician and should not be taken as full clinical advice. The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any mental health or mental illnesses. Always consult your doctor for medical advice or seek professional therapy.

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