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The Beauty of Self-Care

The Beauty of Self-Care: Community Gift Request

by Caitlin Kelch

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Attention everyone! Self-care is even more important during the holidays. Yes, there are a few extra days during which a long nap or two can be taken. And yes, there’s some opportunity to hang out with family and friends to celebrate the holiday. But even with all this opportunity for merry-making and extra time for relaxation, most of us will stress out to some degree. Just don’t.

Take that bath, excuse yourself early, read your book in bed, do whatever it takes to meet your own expectations of the holiday. Spread the love, joy and cheer, but remember to honor you.

In the spirit of giving, and since this column has spurred many conversations and suggestions, I thought it would be wonderful if we all shared a self-care tip in the comments section for others to enjoy over the holiday break. Whether it’s “treat yourself to seconds,” or “take tea alone in the tub,” share one thing that you do for yourself that someone else may not have thought of.

Here’s mine: Take a moment and say to yourself “may I be happy and at ease.”

I can’t wait to read yours.

Happy holidays everyone! –Caitlin

 

*Pattern above by Jen Lashek of

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Comments

  • I’m a grad student studying history. I love every minute of my work, which mostly consists of reading history books and writing about them. But I need to decompress after the semester. Over Christmas break I plan to listen to a biography of Patrick Henry. While I listen I am going to quilt. It will be fabulous!

  • I started a tradition a few years ago where I take a long holiday drive by myself listening to music I enjoy and look at the Christmas lights. Takes anywhere from a 15 minute jaunt to the full 45-minute tour of the city, but I have been doing it now for ten years, and it’s all mine.

  • Go to bed early enough that you can read…a REAL BOOK with pages all crisp and snappy or soft and swooshy, and the smell of real paper.
    No hard shiny lit up devices in bed.

  • For the last three years, I’ve blown off my office holiday party (always an over-the-top affair which feels ridiculous to me) and instead spent that evening picking out a Christmas tree with my husband and my two kids. Staking claim to personal time which would otherwise be “stolen” by a workplace obligation makes our annual family holiday tradition even more enjoyable to me.

  • If you can slip away, go for a walk. I like walking right after dinner when all the houses are lit up for the holidays. They look magical and it makes me feel relaxed and happy. Dusk and early morning are also good times for a walk. I’d suggest leaving your earbuds at home and enjoying the quiet.

  • Whenever I find myself engaging in negative self talk, which honestly happens too often, I’ve been imagining someone I despise saying it to me instead. It makes it super easy to say **** off, that’s not true at all.

    Lately for me, it’s been a lot of thoughts like I’m not good enough and I’ll never succeed and I’m a giant failure at anything I do, and a few minutes of imagining the peotus saying those things at me gets the fire started. For me at least, this works because the remove puts what I’m thinking in perspective and gives me the space to have faith in myself.

  • I bake cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve, before the visits to the family begin. They take a while and require my undivided attention, which helps me focus and relax. Plus the kneading relieves a little stress. They’re pretty rich and indulgent so I find Christmas morning is the best time to enjoy them with a cup of coffee while we open presents.

  • I have a huge family that gets together at Christmas and I love it, but I’m an introvert who needs to recharge with alone time. So, when I need a rest, I go into my bedroom, lie down on the bed, and put on a sheet mask. Then I just relax for 20 minutes and listen to the muffled sounds of 50 people chatting downstairs. When I’m done, not only are my batteries recharged, but my skin looks great!

    • This seems like a great idea to me. I am an introvert, too, so I can relate. I’ve never used a sheet mask; can you recommend a good one? I used to take a book to family gatherings, and if conversation was getting overwhelming, I would find a quiet spot and read for a few minutes before rejoining the revelry.

  • essential oils. Particularly for anxiety and stress relief – there are so many to choose from and they have deep effects. Consult a good book and buy quality.

    • I would love to learn to knit. Do you have any recommendations for books/tutorials/projects for beginners?

  • Each year my husband and I host a Christmas party the first Saturday in December. It takes me a week to decorate and get ready for it. We always have overnight guests as well. So, I put clean bed linen on our bed and spray my favourite scent on the pillows. So after the party is over I can come to bed, relax and cuddle with my main squeeze.

  • Taking care of ourselves is crucial to our wellbeing. As the owner of a travel company for women i see how travel transforms, nourishes and restores. I encourage all of you to make sure you take ALL your vacation days in 2017 and along with the excellent tips above plan a trip just for your wellbeing. Travel is one of the best tools for women’s wellness.

  • Getting outside, even briefly, on these short days is everything. Just taking a moment to get in nature & feel the sun on my face makes me pause & appreciate all that is well in the world. It could be that necessary vitamin D everyone is talking about needing too. Either way, I know it makes a world of difference in reframing my day & making me have, dare I say it, a sunnier disposition.

  • It’s unpopular and counterintuitive, but decreasing or laying off booze this time of year is one of the best acts of self care in which we can all engage. Alcohol exacerbates emotions that run high during the holidays, contributes to and amplifies drama, dehydrates everyone, and adds even more calories to already indulgent foods we all like to eat during this time. Hangovers are horrible. It’s hard on your stomach. Be radical: try sobering up for the holidays instead. You might be surprised how well you actually *can* cope without it.

    • True! I decided to do this for the holidays last year, after I’d had an early December gathering with friends and good wine, that left me feeling drained. I didn’t completely abstain, but had very little alcohol throughout the holiday season: often nothing, sometimes one or two glasses. Better sleep, more energy and a generally more mindful approach of things.

  • Just say no to gift-giving politics and the guilt that comes with that. Receive gifts with genuine appreciation and an open heart – even and especially if you get a gift from someone for whom you did not buy a gift. Give gifts in the same spirit – with no expectation of return.

  • Figure out what you love about the holidays – and what you don’t- then indulge in the former and scrap the latter. Example: my family and I stopped exchanging gifts four years ago and it’s been HEAVEN to avoid the malls, crowds, and needless spending. We love holiday music, food, and decorations, so engaging in these things feels nourishing, not draining. (Then again, if giving gifts brings you joy, keep at it!) Similarly, the whole Christmas card/letter thing felt like an obligation and a chore. Instead, for the last few years, I’ve put together a Paperless Post e-card with a handful of favorite photos from our year and voila – it’s a fun creative project!

    I also suggest watching your favorite holiday movies every year – such a great way to treat yourself and get into the spirit. You’ll find me baking cookies to the tune of “When Harry Met Sally” and “Die Hard.” :->

    • I love this. We had such a good time at Thanksgiving this year, and I realized it is because there are no expectations in our family culture for Thanksgiving besides getting together to enjoy each other’s company and a have a delicious meal. I invited my parents and my siblings to come early. My husband made everyone coffee and bagels for breakfast. We turned the Macy’s parade on tv, and all cooked together. After the meal we played board games and talked. It was so fun.

  • I’m just about to embark on my favourite self-care ritual right now.

    I’m heading out the door without a plan, and giving myself a couple of hours to simply wander and be spontaneous.

    I normally leave my phone at home during these adventures, but it’s too busy a time of year for my small business to do that, so I have to settle for having it on silent and checking it ONCE only while I’m out.

    I know my first stop today will be for a latté & snickerdoodle :)

  • My self-care tip is to flip the script. Instead of saying to yourself, “This is going to be a stressful party,” try saying, “This might turn out to be an awesome night.” Or “I know my dad’s going to mock XYZ about me” becomes “I’m walking into our relationship with an open heart.”

    That tiny shift to hope and positivity can make a difference!

  • When I find myself stressed out and on the verge of a panic attack, I repeat ” I am in the right place at the right time” slowly and calmly in my head.
    I may have gotten this from Louise Hay at some point decades ago, it always slows me down and reminds me to take one thing at a time.

  • I am a parent of two littles and do not get much time to myself. I used to love a long soak in the tub but it is rare that I can find 1 hour or more undisturbed to devote to such an activity. However, I have found that a face and neck massage with a warm damp washcloth takes about 3 minutes and can really do a lot to hit that “reset” button. Smile at yourself in the mirror if you can and love watching yourself letting that light shine while you are at it.

  • I love to do embroidery, but I let it fall to the wayside when I started my new job in September. I picked it back up last weekend and immediately reaped the therapeutic benefits of stitching. I’m working on a fairly involved piece now from a favorite designer, one that involves being almost entirely satin stitched (my favorite stitch – I’m weird, I know, most people really dislike satin stitch because it takes forever and often has to be redone several times before it looks right), but it forces me to slow down and take a breath.

  • I’m a little late to this sharing party, but I listened to a podcast today (Code Switch from NPR) where a guest said that food traditions are powerful, but if they are not something you enjoy eating then you do not have to pass them down. Next year, I am applying this to more than just food!

    If the tradition drains you, scrap it and find one that instead gives you life.

    Aaaand while I’m talking about food: I keep myself from crashing on food and drink during the holidays by refusing to eat treats of any kind before lunch. If I don’t eat chocolate for breakfast, I’m much more likelier to make healthy choices the rest of the day, which helps me sleep better and feel better. (If I do eat chocolate for breakfast, it’s downhill from there…!)

  • You are so right, we care more about others sometimes then about ourselves and especially in this season.
    XOXO Lisa
    lisawinckelmans.com

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