The holidays are here. With them brings joy and togetherness but they can also bring stress, depression, and anxiety. For people that suffer from mental health disorders, this time of year can be very troubling and may even be a trigger for certain disorders.
For many, the isolation of the pandemic and inability to be social with loved ones have hurt deeply on an emotional level. Now that people are able to start connecting in the flesh again, it can be hard to open up and accept the connections. No matter the challenge for those suffering from mental health disorders, stressful family get-togethers, depression due to a loss of someone special, or just anxiety of getting back into some sort of normalcy, each person is dealing with personal life struggles and it is important to address self care.
Mental health is a serious and vitally important aspect of our lives that needs more consideration in our daily schedules. We need to stop viewing our mental health as something we can ignore or put on the “back burner”- instead it should be a priority just as eating and sleeping. It is an essential part of our very being and if it is not maintained in a healthy and productive manner, we can end up doing much more harm to our overall health than good.
Research & Professional Advice: The Importance of Self Care
People magazine reported earlier this year that a recent survey revealed that:
- Almost three in five (59%) will only practice self-care if they feel stressed.
- More than seven in 10 (72%) like to use self-care as a reward after a long, tough week.
- 64% of respondents, self-care provides a much-needed boost to their self-confidence.
- Over two-thirds feel more productive (67%) and happier (71%) after taking time for themselves.
A software company specializing in wellness, named Vagaro, created a survey conducted by OnePoll. These results were interesting and so was the insight from the wellness professional at Vagaro. “There’s an inevitable correlation between stress and self-care. Many people get so caught up in day-to-day responsibilities that they don’t prioritize time to take care of themselves, however, placing importance on activities that encourage relaxation can make you better equipped physically, mentally and emotionally to face life’s daily stressors.”
The results concluded that three-quarters of Americans believe, after engaging in a self care practice, that self-care routines do actually relieve stress and they will continue to try whatever they can to achieve this goal.
The National Institute of Mental Health keeps up with all sorts of surveys and research when it comes to the spectrum of mental health. Their research has shown (as stated on their website), “When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact.”
So, what are other mental health professionals saying?
Laura Boxley, PhD, of The Ohio State University: “In stressful times, self-care can seem frivolous or selfish,” she says. “But committing to self-care will preserve your ability to rise to the challenge of this time.”
Ana Rodriguez, PhD, a New York–based clinical psychologist and founder of the Self-Care Practice. “There’s so much new pressure on us that now more than ever it’s important that we support ourselves, especially if we have limited external supports.”
Diane Bridgeman, PhD, a current board member of the Monterey Bay Psychological Association: “How you define self-care is important,” she says. “It’s not just about being OK, but about flourishing, which requires de-stressing from everyday problems before they become serious.”
Self Care Tips That You Should Try
Each and every day we should be setting aside time to do something positive. This is commonly called “self care.” It is a vital step in keeping our mental and emotional state calm and resilient no matter what life may throw at us. The following are some self care tips that can reduce stress, anxiety and depression during this holiday season.
When we were kids we dreaded “time outs,” and we viewed them as punishment. However, as we age most of us are able to see how therapeutic it actually was. It’s important to see the benefits of taking a little time to ourselves. Here are some tips to utilize that time:
- Keep a journal. Make time each day to write down positive moments from your day. They can be blessings that you have experienced or cherished memories that brought you joy or peace. This keeps you focused on looking for the positives in life daily instead of dwelling on the negatives.
- Go for a walk or engage in some physical exercise. Even if it is merely 10 minutes a day, it can still help a person clear their mind. Activity releases chemicals in the brain that can help people retain more information, feel content and even accomplished, as well as balance the various chemicals and hormones in the body which can promote better sleeping, eating and good health habits.
- Meditation is gaining popularity among people suffering from mental and emotional disorders. These disruptions can be subtle and, if ignored, can manifest into a bigger, more serious problem. Or, the disruptions can become serious depending on the condition thereby causing significant outbursts or behavioral problems. Meditating allows a person to relax and “let go” of negative emotions while replacing them with tranquility.
- Breathing exercises can be a huge part of self care. There are so many out there today. It is all a matter of personal choice. Allow yourself to learn various techniques to decide which ones are best for you. It is a healthy habit to form that can benefit every aspect of your life.
No matter what self care ideas you choose to embrace, it is important that you afford yourself this private time. Make yourself a priority. Take a moment to understand why you feel the way you do and remind yourself that you are allowed to feel that way. You have the right to be who you are and feel the emotions that you do. By engaging in daily self care routines you can survive the holidays and empower yourself to be more accepting of your own personal struggles, sacrifices and accomplishments.