It’s the most (adjective) time of year.
How would you fill in that sentence? Joyful? Exciting? Peaceful? Stressful? Exhausting? Depressing?
The holidays are not easy for anyone. Even people who love the holidays can admit to moments of exhaustion and stress.
Here we are, 10 days before Christmas Eve, and I can honestly say that I have no idea where the time went. Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving? How can we actually enjoy the holiday when we just want it to be over by the time it arrives.
This is why self care is so essential for those of us who tend to get burned out during the lead up to the holidays.
What does self care look like?
Here’s my top ten list of self care strategies:
- Take a nap. Yes, you! Lay down and take a nap. Everyone could use extra rest. If you can’t sleep, even just laying down for 20 minutes with your eyes closed may help reduce the feelings of anxiety or stress you are feeling.
- Color. I’ve been posting a lot of articles about how coloring in those adult coloring books is scientifically proven to be as effective as meditation. So go grab your crayons or colored pencils, your fancy coloring book and zen out. In a pinch, I suggest a pen and a piece of paper. Doodling should have the same effect. There is a whole art form devoted to doodling called Zentangle. Check out this article from Psychology Today.
- Go listen to some music. You can do this while coloring, or while napping/resting. Or you can just do it on its own. Think about the last time you just sat and listened to music. It was probably a really long time ago.
- Call a friend. This is an excellent time to phone a friend. You can commiserate about how nothing is wrapped, or how your mother in law is driving you insane or whatever. Trust me, you’ll feel better.
- Take a walk. Just going outside, especially if the sun is shining (which it isn’t today in Cincinnati) and feeling that sunshine on your face and hands while you walk can really help you relax.
- Spend some time with a pet. Pets just make us feel better and more relaxed. So take your dog with you while you walk, or spend five minutes playing with your cat.
- Cut a corner. If you feel yourself getting worked up about something on your list of to-do’s ask yourself if you can cut a corner. Does everyone really need homemade bath salts? Or can a jar from the store work just as well? Sometimes what we plan doesn’t match reality in terms of time or ability. And that’s okay. There were good intentions, but reality has constraints. Cut a corner.
- Nourish yourself. Make sure you are eating foods that are nourishing you- not draining you. There’s a lot of sweets floating around this time of year and quite frankly, most of us don’t feel great after we overindulge.
- Gratitude check in. Sit down with a piece of paper and spend two minutes writing down things you are grateful for. You might be surprised at what comes to mind, but go with it. Gratitude in even the smallest things can help us bear the anxiety of the holiday.
- Call your therapist. If you can get an appointment with your therapist during christmas week, take it and don’t give it up! That is gold! A conversation with your therapist during christmas week can help reinforce all the good things you’ve been doing for yourself and bring perspective to whatever your worries. Truly.
- Finally, give yourself permission to laugh. Do my Mad Lib! Remember silly mad libs? You choose the adjectives, nouns, adverbs, etc. I created a silly mad lib to give you a laugh! If you do it, send me your mad lib(firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Mad Lib) and I will share it in my special holiday newsletter! It’s great to be able to have a laugh at the holidays!
Want to hear more about navigating the holidays when you have an eating disorder? Check out my interview with Mark Heyne of Cincinnati Edition on 91.7 WVXU Cincinnati.
Dr. J. Renae Norton is a clinical psychologist, specializing in the outpatient treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder (BED), as well as obesity. She is also the author of The Sun Plus Diet, due out in 2016.
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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship. This information is not necessarily the position of Dr. J. Renae Norton or The Norton Center for Eating Disorders and Obesity.
©2016, Dr. J. Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr. J. Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible. Please credit ‘© 2016, Dr. J. Renae Norton. http://www.eatingdisorderpro.com/