Dare I mention the phrase? The one all clinicians have learned, taught, attempted, and possibly even resented? The one that makes many therapists cringe nowadays? Although it may seem like a broken record, self-care is especially important during the holiday season, and doesn’t need to be far-fetched. Here is how I plan to practice what I preach. And I encourage all who are reading to consider setting 5 of your own personalized goals for coping with holiday pressure.
- Online shopping. As a busy therapist who can barely make time to walk the dog an extra block every day, I have chosen to do all of my holiday shopping online this year, down to gift-wrapping paper and scotch tape. No lines, no traffic, no hassle. I will make sure there is an easy return policy, and then I will click away. In fact, my plan is to choose one gift/person to shop for per week…and not to forget one for myself!
- Turn off the news and turn on the fun. Let’s be honest. Turning on the radio on the way to work, the news when we are home, or our reading our preferred paper is a downer almost every day, but especially during today’s climate. I am making a conscious choice to turn on my music on my way to work and even when I’m home. Music has a healing effect and is a simple way to improve energy.
- Activate my senses. It doesn’t need to be the pumpkin spice late or a gingerbread candle. But, I do intend to alert my senses to something new and comforting to me. This holiday, I plan to introduce a new fragrance, plant, shampoo, food, bed sheets, dinner recipe, vitamin, or even lip balm. Humans are naturally drawn to the excitement of newness when the experience is chosen and desirable to them.
- Send optimistic thoughts to each and every one of my patients. We know that gratitude, prayer, and kindness has the power to relieve stress and ground us in the present. Because this can be an especially difficult time for many, including our patients, it sometimes weighs heavily on us as well. This year, when I find myself feeling burned out or worried about my patients, I plan to think of and set one optimistic intention (blessing or prayer for the religiously inclined) for each of my patients.
- Witness the season outdoors. Now that the weather is cooling, I plan to witness it for myself instead of hibernate like a terrified Los Angeleno. This means paying attention to changes in nature by being in nature—not just pairing the holiday with material things and man-made, visually appealing ornaments. We might not have snow or changing leaves on our palm trees, but we have mountains and beaches to remind us about the time of year and to put on a couple extra layers. This year, I plan to do summer things in the fall and winter (perhaps a picnic, bbq, or walk on the beach) in order to create new memories. I plan to notice and experience the season with appreciation and without allowing this time to pass me by. This year, I plan to redefine “holiday season” by staying connected to mother nature.
What 5 things can you commit to this holiday season to bring more comfort and care to yourself?