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  • Writer's pictureMighty Oaks Counseling

Self-Care During the Holidays: Advice From Emily

Does anyone else feel like they have whip-lash from the craziness that was 2020? Does anyone else feel that it was just yesterday that we were watching strange Netflix shows (Tiger King anyone?) and first learning about COVID-19?

Now, masks are a part of our daily wardrobe and most likely your Holiday plans are up in the air or might involve a zoom call or two. I don’t know about you, but this year has constantly felt all over the place, and the Holidays are no exception.

With all of stress we are feeling and things we are going through physically and emotionally, my hope for this season is that you focus on taking care of yourself ,healing, and paying attention to what might need nurturing. As we approach Winter break, I am setting these two intentions to help fill my cup.

1. Embrace the down time and embrace the stillness.

Holidays are always a time of hustle and bustle. Kids are out of school, shopping, running errands, cooking, family events- it seems like it never stops. While your holiday may still be busy this year, If you are planning on staying home or bummed about an event getting canceled, I challenge you to take advantage of the down time and be still.

What does that even mean?

Take a break from the productivity grind and do something just for fun! Journal, do yoga, sing a silly song, dance with your kids in kitchen, do whatever makes your soul light up. I’m not talking about adding another task, I’m talking about being in the present moment and focusing on the sweetness of things around you. Take an extra-long time noticing how your coffee tastes. Spend some extra time snuggling on the couch with your dog or child. Read that book that is just for FUN. In today’s culture, we are QUICK to fill our free time with productive tasks and jump to the next thing- but my challenge for you is don’t- even if it’s uncomfortable. Practice being right where you are and know that in this moment, you are doing everything you need to be.

2. Take time to do the little things. Self-care isn’t all bubble baths and face masks (although if that is your thing go for it!)

I don’t know about you, but when I am overwhelmed things such as buying groceries, doing laundry, and cleaning my room are the first things to fall by the waste side. When I start my weeks and I wasn’t able to get groceries, I know it makes me feel even more behind and overwhelmed when I look in the fridge and there is nothing to eat. So, brush the teeth, take the shower, do the laundry, buy the groceries, get the sleep, and move your body. This does not mean you have to do a full-on meal prep and do a full skin care routine. Even just buying ready to go healthy meals or simple salads or lunch meat allows your mind to free up some space and focus on other things. When your stomach growls and you look in the fridge, you will thank me! This also doesn’t mean you have to do an hour long cross fit workout. Take a walk while talking to a friend outside or do some stretching before bed.

3. Set Boundaries.

Chances are the word boundaries brings up some emotions for you. Chances are that this Holiday season, you might be around people (either in person or virtually) who have hurt you in the past or bring up difficult emotions for you. Boundaries are a way of protecting your mental health and emotional well-being and therefore, I consider them a big part of self-care.

1. Have an exit plan/ coping skills in your back pocket. If you know you are going to see someone who might trigger you, have a space you can go or a grounding technique you can use to bring yourself back to a stable and calm place. One of my favorite grounding techniques to use personally and with clients is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique using your senses. Once you find your breath, go through the following steps to help ground yourself:

5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. ...

4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. ...

3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. ...

2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell. ...

1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.

2. Check in with your- self and be honest about your needs. How long can you really spend at a certain person’s house? Role-play situations in your head that you anticipate coming up and practice saying no and advocating for yourself. Be firm and consistent. Your needs matter, remember that. J

3. Be honest with yourself about how you feel about the pandemic. As we have seen, everyone’s comfortability with spending time with other’s is different and you need to do what you feel comfortable with for you and your family. There has been guilt, shame, and judgement for choices regarding the pandemic. Practice communicating to others about your choices whether a family member or friend is guilting you for not attending or attending an event.

“Give yourself the same care and attention you give to other’s and watch yourself bloom.”

My hope for you in this holiday season is to provide some attention and nurturing to the pieces of you that need extra love. Take this time to take an inventory to discover what you are needing and give that gift to yourself this holiday. And just so you know, I’m speaking to myself as well!

Warm Wishes,

Emily Yount, MS, LPC Intern, NCC, CTMH-A

Supervised by Dr. Sarah Carlson, LPC-S, RPT-S, E-RYT 200

Emily spends her time working at Wilson Middle School in Plano ISD, with Communities in Schools of the Dallas Region. This program provides additional social and emotional support to students and families, many that the Texas Education Agency deems "at-risk". To read more about CIS Dallas, please click here.

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