For many, the Holiday Season is a great time to reflect on our blessings. This season also offers an opportunity for us to look for ways to make life better for others. However, it is important to remember to take care of yourself as well since the holidays can often be very busy and, for some, a time of year that brings difficulties. Let’s be honest, many of us get stressed trying to “slay” the holidays (if you are like me, you will need to Google that term to learn that “slay” means that you did something really well).
My name is Heather Aguilera, and I am a dedicated advocate with a lifelong commitment to helping others. I joined Camino in 2020, initially serving as the Director of Behavioral Health Operations, leveraging my skills for process improvement to expand access to quality care. In 2022, I became the HR|Compliance Manager, maintaining a focus on quality assurance, process improvement, and holistic employee support across all Camino departments. Throughout this blog, we will discuss some factors that contribute to stress during the holidays, what self-care really is, and how to focus on your personal well-being.
According to the American Psychological Association, nearly nine in 10 U.S. adults say something causes them stress during the holiday season. Things contributing to this stress include finding the right gift, finances, missing loved ones, and perceived expectations. Over the holiday season and any time of year, there are several things that you can do to focus on improving your overall well-being.
Self-care is something that we hear about but tend to unintentionally neglect, especially for those of us who are used to caring for others. So, what does self-care mean anyway? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it means “taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical and mental health.” It is anything that makes you feel better physically and emotionally and is not detrimental to your physical and/or mental well-being. You define what self-care means for you. Let’s pause. It is important to understand that leaning towards activities like increased use of alcohol, use of drugs, etc., are not considered self-care activities.
Not sure what that self-care means for you? Here are some tips on how to focus on your well-being:
- Take time doing things that you enjoy doing: Do you like reading, painting, listening to music, taking a walk, etc.? It does not have to be something elaborate or expensive to be enjoyable.
- Talk to someone about any stress, negative emotions, etc.: It helps to talk about it versus holding it in. It has been proven that talking about our stress or any negative emotions can help with reducing stress, strengthening our immune system, and reducing physical and emotional distress.
- Be mindful of how often you raise your hand and say “yes:” If you add too many items to the list of things to do, you can become overwhelmed and decrease your ability to be your best self. It is okay to ask for a raincheck for a dinner outing or to ask for help in getting some items checked off of your list.
- Make a budget and stick to it: There is no need to increase your financial stress to buy fancy gifts for others. Stick to the adage that “It’s the thought that counts.” It is okay to give the gift of spending time with a loved one or doing a favor for someone, such as cooking a meal for them, doing yard work for them, etc.
- Make a Holiday gratitude list: We often forget to focus on what we are thankful for. When we take time to really reflect on our blessings, many studies have shown that there is an increase in happiness and a decrease in depression, both of which can lead to positive impacts on our overall mental and physical well-being. Take a look at NAMI California’s blog post that details multiple sources that have shared this same conclusion.
- Consider volunteering: I know, I know… I have been saying to take time for yourself, however, engaging in volunteer activities has its own health benefits, including improving mental and physical health, providing a sense of purpose, teaching valuable skills, and nurturing new and existing relationships. Not only does volunteering help improve your well-being, but it also has a positive impact on those in need and the surrounding community.
So, instead of trying to “slay” the holidays, “sleigh” your well-being through self-care this holiday season and beyond! Hopefully, as you become more consistent in your self-care journey you will see the positive impacts while being able to show up in all areas of your life refreshed and renewed.