Self-care Tips for the Holidays
The holiday season has officially started with December arriving.
As a caregiver, the holiday season is bittersweet as I experience the two extremes of emotions. Firsthand, I love all of the invitations to holiday parties and brunches as I get to visit with and see friends whom I don’t see often enough.
Then, the second wave appears and it feels stressful as its challenging to find a sitter over the holidays. We don’t have family in town, so we rely solely on a handful of sitters whom we trust to watch our daughter. As you can appreciate, having a daughter (who for all extensive purposes is non-verbal) - it is important that we only have people come to the house whom we know or who have been referred by friends.
Furthermore, for the holiday brunches where the entire family is invited, my husband and I always take turns eating and socializing and then watching Summer - so we can never truly relax.
I must admit, each year gets a little easier, and thankfully her iPhone offers some distraction before she starts exploring the house and climbing the hallway banisters.
These are some examples of the added stress that caregivers endure during the most wonderful time of the year.
That is where self-care comes into play.
First, I am going to set the stage and explain why you need to give yourself permission to make your self-care a priority.
And its this six-letter word that packs quite a punch.
Yes. I am talking about stress.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines stress as “great worry caused by a difficult situation, or something that causes this condition.”
Studies have shown that parents of children with special needs are far more likely than others to experience anxiety, depression, insomnia and fatigue.
More seriously, chronic stress can can cause many serious health problems including, heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks and stroke. Chronic stress means that the stress is ongoing or has taken place over a long period of time.
Your muscles tense up to protect themselves from injury when you're stressed. They tend to release again once you relax, but if you're constantly under stress, your muscles just don’t get the chance to relax.
Then, tight muscles can lead to headaches, back and shoulder pain, and body aches.
I hope that I have your attention now! Here are my 3 self-care tips for you to try over the holidays: breathing, meditating and hugging.
These 3 tips are free and can be done from the comfort of your own home or that of a relative whom you’re visiting.
First, start every morning with taking 5 deep breaths.
Slow down and control your breathing.
Try 4x4x4x. This means, that you breathe in for a count of 4 seconds, hold your breath for a count of 4 seconds and then breathe out for a count of 4 seconds.
Secondly, search 5-minute guided meditation and listen to that with your earphones and lying down. Close your eyes and let your mind be quiet.
Thirdly, hug your kids, partner, spouse, family members and hold the hug for 5 to 10 seconds.
These activities will be beneficial because they’re intentional. How often do we actually take time in a day to think about how we feel and then take the action to slow down and be calm.
We need to acknowledge that there is stress in our lives - and probably more than we imagined. These are all validations of why your self-care is so important.
Clues for you that you need to take time for yourself.
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I am grateful that I get to spend this time with her and her brother. I will honour this time of a more relaxed schedule.
Whichever route a family chooses, what matters is knowing when to ask for help and how to get the right help to care for any family member that needs an additional helping hand.