It’s the most wonderful time of the year (or, is it?): Self-care for the holidays
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
While it’s a catchy song, unfortunately the sentiment doesn’t always ring true. The holiday season is upon us, and for many it can feel like the farthest thing from wonderful.
For Ontario’s housing providers, this season marks the end of another challenging year. Last month at the ONPHA Conference, Michael “Pinball” Clemons acknowledged the incredible and difficult work the community housing sector took on in 2021, and challenged ONPHA members to take care of themselves first. When your own cup is full, you can continue to pour into the lives of your tenants and communities.
So whatever you celebrate, if you’re not quite feeling the holiday cheer, here are a few tips you can try to help “fill your cup” this season. Always remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, reaching out to a professional for support is the best thing you can do for yourself.
Tip #1: Make time for something you love.
Maybe it’s cooking your family’s favourite holiday recipe, or turning on some music and decorating.
Or perhaps anything “holiday” related only increases your stress. If that’s the case, don’t feel pressured into an activity just because it’s what people do during the holidays. Choose something that actually relaxes you.
Maybe making time for something you love simply means taking a nap – and that’s okay, too!
Tip #2: Check in with yourself.
Perhaps tip #1 is trickier than it sounds because when you stop to think about it, you aren’t quite sure what relaxes you these days, or what exactly is causing your stress levels to spike. Sometimes when we get busy or overwhelmed, we lose touch with ourselves for a moment.
Do a little experiment over the next couple of weeks. Pause to check in with yourself a few times a day. Write down what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. Simply taking the time to notice these things can help you avoid stress triggers and better understand how to relax your mind and body.
Tip #3: Make space for grief, and for joy.
The holidays can feel heavy for those who have lost loved ones or have strained relationships. Even if you haven’t lost someone, if you’re a frontline worker, you may feel burdened by the struggles you see all around you.
Give yourself permission to grieve or experience sadness in whatever way you feel compelled, whether it’s allowing tears to flow, sharing memories, giving back, or honoring your lost loved ones with a special holiday tradition.
At the same time, try to make space for yourself to laugh! Call up your friend who always tells the funniest stories, or watch your favourite comedy. Doing things you know will spark joy can help you strike a healthy balance as you journey through grief or sadness.
Tip #4: Communicate and be flexible.
While we’ve come a long way with the COVID-19 pandemic, we know we’re not out of the woods just yet. As we all continue to follow the advice of healthcare professionals, celebrations may continue to look a little different than we’d like.
Discuss your concerns with family and friends, plan ahead, and try to manage expectations early on. This can help keep stress levels low and prevent miscommunication.
Tip #5: A simple yet effective final step.
We won’t ask you to put down that eggnog or hot cocoa, but we will suggest that you drink your water!
As the weather gets colder, it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated. Yet, drinking the recommended amount of water is one of the simplest ways to promote good health and feel energized!
Set daily goals, use an app on your phone, add some fruit for flavour, or treat yourself to a new sustainable water bottle – whatever keeps you motivated!