Practicing Self Care During the Holidays

November 14, 2018

Holidays! You either love them or you hate them and that pendulum can swing back and forth every year.  The truth is, the holidays can be an especially difficult time for many, many people, myself included.  This time last year I hated the question, "what are you doing for the holidays?" easy enough question, right? Harmless even? But the truth is this time last year I was in the very beginning of the most difficult time of my life.  I shared some of it in my last post which you can read here.  It was right around late October that things were falling apart with my son compounded with the biggest falling out with my mother, sister and father so having them over for the holidays was not an option.  This is life, right?  Throwing curve balls at you around the most "wonderful time of the year".  I want to share with you a few things that helped me get through the holidays last year in the hopes that this reaches someone who feels alone and distraught.  I will preface this list by saying that pain is very real and the only around past the pain is right through it.  This list is in no way meant to undermind a struggle or a loss in your life right now, these are merely things I learned to practice to help keep my head above water.

1. Take a Social Media Break

This seems like a no brainer and it might seem cliche by now but stay off of social media.  Last year when I would go onto FB or instagram and scroll through pages of happy faces filled with laughter and warmth, big families, big feasts and not a care in the world it made me feel bad.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy for all of my friends but it made me feel my own perceived loss even more.  Everyone else has this, why can't I? Why is this simple thing unattainable to me? Why can't I have these relationships with my family?  I mean it can really make you spiral into an endless rabbit hole of comparison and shame.  Why do it to yourself?  Sure those photos are real, they are happening but it is the best of what is happening, you don't know what they are really going through.  Life is much more complicated and messy but we seem to forget that as we are scrolling.  Just unplug, be present in your life.  

2. Do More of What Makes You Happy

Pain is real but so is joy and you can find that in the things you love to do even during the difficult times.  Some distraction is fine, its healthy even.   Read a book. Watch your favorite movie and make it special somehow.  I am not kidding you but on Valentine's Day, when I found myself single my favorite tradition was watching Goodfellas!  It was one of the best mafia movie ever made and the complete opposite of love, same thing for the holidays.  I am not saying watch crime movies although I would recommend them, watch some genre that you love.  Don't watch a movie that is going to mirror your pain, if that makes sense.  Plan some friend time.  Last year I made sure to meet up and have a meal or a glass of wine or a cup of coffee with my closest friends before ringing in the new year.  Everyone is busy during the holidays but putting some things on the calendar right around this time before everyone goes off can be so important.  

3. Get and Stay Physical 

I am not even kidding with this one.  Get thee to the gym, get thee to a yoga class, get thee to a soul cycle class, get thee arse up and head to the track.  I know I am making light of this one but I can't tell you how important it is to get your body moving!  You've heard this all before, endorphins, serotonin all of those good hormones, you get them during a good ole fashion sweat session.  If you don't already have a workout regiment or you think you don't have the time, you do!  Trust me, I shared in this post a 28 minute at home workout you can do with minimal equipment.  This time last year I was hitting the gym at least 3 to 4 times a week for a good cardio session and some weights.  It was my sanity.  It was an hour or so that I tuned the world and bad thoughts out and focused on the music in my ear and motion of my body.  Seriously, get physical.  Your whole outlook will change.  

4. Find Things in Your Life to Be Grateful For.  

I know this can be difficult but there is always something to be grateful for every day.  It can be as simple as getting a parking spot in front of your home, or not hitting traffic on the way home, or being grateful for an extra blanket to keep you warm at night.  My point is that where there is life, there is hope so even being grateful for waking up every morning and being able to get out of bed is a win.  The things to be grateful for can be that granular. There are so many things in our lives that we just take for granted, people at work that always welcome you to the office with a smile, or ask you if you want to join them on a lunch order, or take time to share with you pictures of their children or grandchildren.  Those interactions are special, they add value to our lives.  We have to see that and count that as a blessing.  Last year an older faculty member stopped by my office for a chat.  This was an especially rough day for me.  She didn't know it when she stopped in but I had been crying and just trying to keep it together.  She sat down at my table and shared some photos of her 1 year old granddaughter and she was just beaming.  She looked at me and saw the tears in my eyes and asked me what was wrong.  I told her I was going through a very difficult time and my son had moved out.  She held my hand and said, "Oh Erica, I am so sorry." She said when she went through a particularly difficult time in her life she kept a journal.  Every night she told me I had to make an entry and share my raw feelings, a sort of letter to Tyler.  She assured me everyday would be different, some days I would be mad, nostalgic, regretful, reflective and the list of emotions go on, but it would be a safe place to share that pain.  I took her advice and it did help especially on the darker days.  Ok, I realize this is turning into a "start a journal" tip and yes you can take that away from this one, but the point is that she stopped in when she didn't even know I needed it.  I am grateful for people like her in my life and we all have these people in our lives if we look close enough.  Little angels that just seem to swoop in and offer a shoulder when we need it the most.  

I will stop there, four is a nice round number.  For those who are reading and are in a really good place, thats wonderful, honestly you are blessed but just bear in mind that there are others who are not.  Holidays bring out all sorts of feelings, and we can't assume they are all good because that is what the Hallmark channel is pimping out to us 24/7 since October.  Realize life is complicated and tricky and we all need to be kinder, more mindful and more self aware.  With this in mind instead of asking someone at your office party or in passing "so what are you doing for the holidays?" ask, "so how are you doing today?".  A seemingly easy question but a much more generous one.

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Thank you for reading.  

Until next time..

by LifeStyledbyEricađź’‹

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