By Kirsten Garvin - Team Member and Staff Writer for The Cardiac Bear
In our previous blog post, we talked about taking a mental look back at past holiday seasons and their challenges to have a better understanding of recurring stressors that come up around this time. Once the stressors are identified it’s possible to make some intentional plans to help manage the challenges.
If you haven’t had a chance to write out your past holiday stressors and challenges, I encourage you to pause reading and do that now.
Looking toward this current holiday season, it can be helpful to stop and think about some possible upcoming emotional and physical challenges you feel like you are probably going to encounter this season. Each year can bring its own challenges so pausing and reflecting on your current situation goes a long way! And don’t forget to list any of those applicable recurring stressors from years past in your list as well.
Set some realistic intentions for yourself
Once you have your list of what can be reasonable to expect during this holiday season, you can start to plan for ways to support your mental and physical wellbeing. New year resolutions and high goals are often dreamed, chosen, and subsequently forgotten about as the prolonged struggle to make long term big changes set in. Establishing realistic intentions for yourself gives you the best chance at being able to follow through.
Here’s an example of what an ideal goal might look like contrasted with what could be a more maintainable, realistic intention:
Ideal goal: I’m going to lose some weight this holiday season!
Managing expectations: In the past, I always end up gaining at least several pounds during the holiday season.
Possible realistic intention: I’m going to aim for not gaining more than the usual couple pounds during the holidays.
Possible realistic intention: I’m going to aim for maintaining my weight this holiday season.
“Self-care” has been a buzzword that’s often mistakenly attributed to being all about pampering
with facials and wine while relaxing. In practice though, self-care is about tuning into our basic bodily and mental health needs; especially during the moments of heightened stress when we’re likely to make our own needs a low priority.
Self-care can mean getting (or trying to get) adequate sleep. Other times it may mean filling your body with nutrient-dense foods. Taking care of yourself by taking your medicine consistently and on time. It can look like letting yourself be vulnerable and reaching out to a close friend or family member to let them know you’re struggling. At times self-care may mean saying “no” or declining invitations when you need to.
Throughout these busy seasons it is so important that you are aware of your body’s emotional and physical limitations—after all, you are only human!