How to Practice Self Care During Busy Seasons
We’re kicking off the beginning of a pretty busy season. Whether it's traveling, working ahead to make up for time off, hosting family, cooking, or simply maintaining all of our usual commitments, most of us have a lot going on between mid-November and January 1st. It can be a challenge to prioritize self-care when we’re managing so many obligations. Even when our commitments are positive ones that we look forward to, it can still be hard to remember to take care of ourselves through it all. I came up with a few tools to help you practice self-care during this season. While the holidays are certainly a busy season, that feeling of constant “on the go” can extend beyond these few months. Maybe you’re caring for a new baby, a sick family member, starting a new job, moving, etc. Big life changes can equal a busy season of life. The tools I'm sharing below can be applied to other situations even beyond the holidays.
1. What can go? By this I mean, is there something that’s taking up your time and energy that isn’t 100% necessary? In terms of holiday planning, do you absolutely need to have the Pinterest perfect Thanksgiving table? Probably not. Your guests are more likely to remember the meal and quality time shared together than the tiny details. Focusing on those little details can cause unnecessary stress and make you lose sight of the bigger picture. If something is creating added stress, take good, hard look at it. Is it really something that you need to be doing? Is there a way to make it easier on yourself? Thinking through the motivations behind tasks and getting rid of the unnecessary can free up extra time and mental space for the more important things.
2. Practice self-compassion. This is really the foundation of self-care. You need to have compassion for yourself to even realize that self-care is necessary. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves when we feel like we didn’t do a good enough job. The difficult part is learning to treat yourself like you’re worthy of love and respect, regardless of what you accomplish. Self-compassion keeps you grounded to the notion that you’re still worthy, no matter what you do. A book I would highly recommend is Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristen Neff. She's done tons of research on the topic and has some great resources and tips. More on this in a future blog post!
3. Find time for yourself in the margins. When everything feels busy during the day it may seem like there's no room for taking care of yourself, but there probably is! The "margins" are those times during the day when you may be between commitments like when driving to and from work, or eating lunch, or waiting on someone to arrive. It’s any time that is “off” for you. For me, I found that during these moments I would typically turn to my phone and start scrolling through social media (unless I'm driving ;) ). This may seem relaxing but it can really create a lot of added stress as well as wasted time. So if you're like me and turn to your phone a lot, consider downloading an app to track how long you use your phone and where you spend most of your time. It will really put things into perspective. I like the app Moment. Once you identify those “margin” times, think about what else you could be doing instead. Maybe it’s reading (or listening to) a few pages of a book. Maybe it’s listening to an uplifting podcast or music. Maybe you go for a short walk. Try diffusing some oils and deep breathing for a few minutes. Whatever it is, find something that is truly relaxing and spend time doing it.
4. Let go of food fears. When life is busy, feeling stressed around food is the last thing you need. This takes time and effort but now is a great time to start. It's totally okay to ask for help when you need it. Seeking out counseling IS self care. I'd love to work together if you're ready to take that next step! By working with a dietitian you're giving yourself accountability and building in time to focus on your own needs. Check out the services page or feel free to email me over on the contact page!
5. Deny perfectionism and practice contentment. Especially during the holidays, it can be easy to get caught up in the "bigger, better, more" mentality that the world is selling. How may people do we know out there that are truly content with what they have and how they're doing right now? If we're striving for perfection, nothing will ever be enough. We'll always be trying to achieve the next greatest thing. If we practice being content with what we have and who we are, we'll be able to appreciate those things so much more. This is the same as gratitude. Gratitude breeds contentment. Striving for "perfection" breeds stress, anxiety and fear. Feelings of contentment can have a calming effect during the busy seasons. More calm=less stress=happier, healthier you!