By Alison Clausnitzer and Tracy Ennis
The holiday season is a wonderful, joyous, albeit stressful time of year. It is the time of year when we share stories, gifts, and the flu. We go to school concerts, parties, and slightly more bald or gray. We reminisce about past holidays, favorite gifts, loved ones that have passed and lest we forget, what it was like to be debt free.
As members of a unique profession we experience maybe a little (or a lot) more stress than others. We may experience our own stress during the holiday season as well as vicariously the stress of the individuals that we help. We experience their frustrations with being ill, feelings of being overwhelmed with all they need to do, their inability to provide food or gifts for their family, or their feelings of loneliness. As we are well aware, the holidays are also the time of year when suicide and hospitalization rates increase. This all inevitability increases our own stress.
It is important as counselors, case managers, support staff, residential workers or whichever vital role you perform, that you remember one important thing: SELFCARE!!! Self care is essential. It is something that should be practiced, modeled, and contemplated daily. However, most of us fail at this as we are busy caring for others. So this holiday season remember to take care of yourself!
Here are some simple ways to practice self care this holiday season:
1.) You are not a miracle worker and are not going to be able to fix everyone’s problems for them. But you can have a list of food pantries, support groups, and other community resources available to help support your clients.
2.) EAT!!! Have munchies (or as I think to call them nummy yummies) on hand. Healthy ones are good, but a few pieces of chocolate, or whatever your vice is, won’t hurt.
3.) WATER! Drink enough water during the day. Water is good for the body and the brain.
4.) Talk to your co-workers when you are overwhelmed, they get it.
5.) Don’t take yourself too seriously, laugh when you can.
6.) Know when you need a day off and take it. If you are not at your best, you can’t give your clients your best. (And when you take a day off, RELAX!)
7.) Meditate, sing, dance, draw, or whatever relaxes you between clients (close the office door if you want some privacy).
8.) Simplify! Make the holidays what YOU want them to be. Try reading “Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas” by Bill McKibben.
9.) Say No. You do not need to attend every party or every family get together. Start new holiday traditions at home. Remember the holidays are meant to be joyful.
10.) Practice Gratitude. Create a gratitude list or journal. What are you grateful for this year? Being grateful increases happiness and allows us to appreciate what we have in spite of any difficulties we may be experiencing.
Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture. ~Kak Sri
11.) Exercise!! Exercise is a natural anti-depressant and mood enhancer. Even a brief 10 minute walk has a positive impact on our mood.
12.) Create your own Resiliency Toolbox. This is your own personalized collection of things you can do to strengthen your ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable curve balls. It might include:
Daily exercise, prayer, volunteering, meditation, watching funny movies, a date night with your significant other, taking time daily to quietly reflect, attendance at church, reading a novel………you decide what works for you.