Holistic Intentional Self-Care to Ease Holiday Stress

Self-care has been a major buzzword the past few years. As we all start re-assessing our priorities and wondering what all that overperforming was for, self-care is more important than ever. But what constitutes self-care and how do we implement an intentional, holistic self-care practice into our busy Holiday lives?

If visions of influencers and expensive products or services are flashing before your eyes, you’re not alone. We live in a society that can complicate and capitalize on anything, self-care included. But intentional, effective, holistic self-care doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or time consuming. 

Intentional And Holistic Self-Care

For self-care to be effective, it needs to be intentional and holistic. When self-care addresses all our parts, it is more likely to be life-giving and self-sustaining. Think about the difference between accidentally binge watching your favorite show all day, or night, versus setting a time and place to watch the same show with friends. No shame in either activity, sometimes self care does look like an unplanned day on the couch, or in bed, watching a good show or movie series. The idea behind intentional, planned self-care is that it can lead to fewer unplanned binge watching days, lower levels of burnout, and increased satisfaction with life in general. 

Imagine building a life where you have some self-care each day, as opposed to overfunctioning until you can’t go anymore and need a whole weekend to recover. Most likely this cycles back into overfunctioning which builds the mindset that self-care is only for when we really, really need it. This is how most of us were functioning before the pandemic. Intentional self-care helps us interrupt this cycle by creating pockets of self-care throughout our day, allowing us to be more mindful of how we’re prioritizing our own needs and desires.

Building a Self-Care Routine

When building a self-care routine, the first step is to carve out time for it. Identifying specific times throughout the day to practice self-care is an excellent way to start. It can be tempting to say we will do self-care sometime. The problem is  that sometime never comes because something always gets in the way. Tasks pile up, our boss needs something urgently, our family members have a crisis, or the day doesn’t go as planned. At the end of the day, we didn’t have time for self-care because we didn’t make time for self-care. 

This is the point many of us reach and give up on building our self-care habits. We realize that carving out time for self-care means giving up other functions we perform and that gets uncomfortable, so we don’t do it. Many of us are much more comfortable being all things to all people, than taking time to make sure our health and well-being are prioritized. Chances are, if you’re serious about improving your self-care, you’ll get good at saying no! This discomfort is understandable, and it’s a good reason to start with short periods of time. Taking five or ten minutes each day to check in with our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual state can make a big difference. 

Types of Self-Care

A search for self-care online will bring up an overwhelming number of ideas and suggestions. For this reason, breaking self-care down into different categories can help us prioritize what we need most. 

  • Emotional - This category addresses our emotional health and well-being. Activities include: journaling, playing music, painting/drawing/sculpting, going to therapy, and enjoying time in nature

  • Physical - All about taking care of our bodies, physical self-care includes things like regular exercise that you enjoy, bathing, brushing, eating, and having clothes that fit. 

  • Psychological/Mental  - Anything that stimulates the brain is included in this; reading a book, taking a class, participating in a discussion group, going to an art gallery, playing strategy games are all included in this category.

  • Spiritual - While this category includes religion and prayer, it’s much bigger than that. Anything that makes you think outside yourself can be included in this category. Volunteering, traveling, nature walks, meditation, yoga, and prayer are included in this area as well. 

  • Social - Spending time with family and friends is an essential part of self-care. However that works best for you, lunch dates, happy hours, phone/zoom calls, and date nights all help promote overall health and well being. 

  • Practical - Addressing the practical aspects of life might not seem like self-care, but it is. From planning a budget to grocery shopping to putting gas in the car, it all helps decrease stress and increase feelings of security. 

Maybe this sounds really overwhelming and unrealistic, but remember we’re starting with one activity, five to ten minutes a day. If that doesn’t work for you, pick one category to focus on for a month and dedicate time each day to that category. 

Building the Self-care Habit

Self-care is a habit, like anything else, it needs to be built up and can be difficult to maintain. It will be tempting to skip a day or stop altogether. Actual emergencies will come up and take over our lives. These will all be reasons to neglect ourselves and go back to overfunctioning, but the cost to our well-being is much higher than we realize. Burnout, anxiety, panic disorders, depression, and trauma responses are all the things we risk when we overfunction and undervalue ourselves. In the grand scheme of things, taking five minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee, stretch our muscles, or just breathe, is unlikely to have a significant negative impact on those around us. Carving out time each day for self-care is a reward in itself. Being more present for the all day binge watching is a great bonus too!

I hope this has helped you learn more about holistic, intentional self-care, and ways to incorporate it into your healing process, and daily routines. And if you’d love to know more about holistic intentional self-care and how it can help with trauma treatment, our team of therapists at Authentic Connections Counseling Center in Castle Rock, Colorado is here to support you. You can book a session by calling 720-370-3010 x100 or emailing us at info@authenticconnectionscounseling.com