The holidays are tough for all of us, whether it’s dealing with finding the right gifts, dealing with those crowds, finances, family and whatever is thrown our way, but some of us deal with things a bit tougher than others.
Those of us with mental illness, depression and anxiety for me, have a really hard time with self care normally, but around the holidays it can much more difficult.
Some of us have no support system at all, some of us are away from our support system and some of us are just struggling to get through another day.
This is where self-care comes in.
I know…the thought of self-care kind of makes you wanna roll your eyes, right? It does for me too.
When I mention this to people who don’t have a mental illness, it’s typically the same suggestions:
“Go get a pedicure.”
“Go buy yourself something nice.”
“Why don’t you go to a spa or something?”
“You should go to a holiday party or dancing!”
But see, these things are very hard for me and a lot of other people. So here is my thought process with anxiety.
“A pedicure? But all those germs.”
“I have no money to buy anything nice and if I did, I’d just feel guilty for buying it at all.”
“A spa? All those germs and all those people!”
“A party? Dancing? Then I’d have to get a pedicure and buy something nice and obviously those two things aren’t gonna happen.”
I could go on and on, this scenario is a very tame day in my head. A “good” day, you might say.
So how do I practice self-care during the holidays when every day is a struggle already?
- Color a picture.
Yep, a coloring book. I’m serious. I do the free apps on my phones or buy a silly coloring book from the dollar store and when I feel stressed or even just down, I color. It’s calms me so much and helps me focus on something other than my current worries.
An article on CNN.com from August was about a reporter recently spoke to Marygrace Berberian, who is a certified art therapist for the Graduate Art Therapy Program at NYU.
She said, “Just like meditation, coloring also allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment, helping to alleviate free-floating anxiety. It can be particularly effective for people who aren’t comfortable with more creatively expressive forms of art, says Berberian, “My experience has been that those participants who are more guarded find a lot of tranquility in coloring an image. It feels safer and it creates containment around their process,”
It definitely feels this way when I color. I feel safe. Comfortable and happy and I can still express myself. I used to paint a lot and draw, but I was so critical of my own work, that it was too stressful to do what I loved.
With so many variations of coloring books and apps available now, I can use my creativity while remaining relaxed and if I don’t like what I’ve done, it’s easy to start over with a fresh page.
Apps I Love: ReColor, Colorfy
Also, google for coloring pages and print them out. Easy!
- Puzzles and Puzzle Games
I know this seems a bit simple, like the coloring, but playing a few puzzle games or putting a puzzle together helps me stay in the moment and not get too tied up in the little details of life that typically cause me a lot of anxiety.
The nice thing about puzzles and puzzle games that make them so calming is that there isn’t a game over or anyone for me to compete against. Just find the pieces and make the picture. When I am done, I get a little satisfaction of taking that puzzle apart and putting in the box and putting it away, as if I put my worries in there with it and with apps on your device, you can pause it and put away for a while and pick it back up later.
Apps I Love:
WoodPuzzle, Block!Hexa and Puzzledom
Meditation is something that I had a hard time with at first. It’s all a part of my spiritual fitness routine. See my blog feature What does spiritual fitness mean?
Meditation isn’t religious and spiritual fitness doesn’t mean you have to pray. Meditation can be done millions of ways and it’s different for everyone.
Consider trying an easy meditation. It’s all about breathing. Slowing and focusing on breathing so you can relax, especially during really tough times.
Meditation helps me daily and when I think I am going to fall apart. It helps when I’m angry, when I can’t sleep, or when my brain is riding a worry-coaster.
I tried so many different ways to meditation from YouTube videos to books to audio tapes and I just could not focus. It was hard enough to focus for a few minutes at a time much less 20 or 30.
Just as I was about to give up, I stumbled across a fantastic app called Headspace.
Headspace is super easy meditation app that is laid out in a simple, yet fun way.
It’s easy to understand and the meditations are short, 10 minutes max. That’s what initially turned me onto it because like I said, I can’t focus for very long as it is.
10 minutes may seem like a long time to meditate, but with this app, it’s actually amazing how fast the time goes by.
The narrator and creator is Andy Puddicombe who is a meditation and mindfulness expert. This guy went through ten years of meditation training and traveled the world to learn what he could about meditation.
Through his journey, as well as many articles and research done on the topic, he learned how beneficial meditation can be.
Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, help with insomnia and even chronic pain. and I’m speaking from experience!
When I do meditation, even for 3 minutes, I feel more clear headed, less anxious, and more relaxed. Most of the sessions on this app are intended to be done in the morning and sitting on the floor or in a chair, but I even do them in bed.
The sessions range from beginner to advanced with packs you can choose for everything from anxiety, pain, sleep and even pain! The app also has a section for kids.
I used the sessions about fear of flying when I took a solo trip to FL to see my parents and let me say, it helped me not lose my mind and relax more than I expected.
I really encourage you to try it, even if you are reluctant, just try it. Your first 10 days are totally free and when you sign up, you don’t have to put in your credit card info. It won’t automatically subscribe you to the plan unless you choose to subscribe and add it to your app.
I am not sponsored or affiliated by Headspace, I just wanted to share a super beneficial thing that helps me through the tough times and helps me learn to take a few minutes out of my day for self-care.
The best thing about these meditations is that they are quick. I know I already mentioned this, but I can’t express enough how important that was to me when doing meditations.
You can download right to your phone and do them on a break at work, while taking a moment away from holiday gatherings, before bed, when you wake up, and anywhere or anytime in between!
Here’s the link http://www.headspace.com to check it out and I reached out to Headspace to see if they could provide me with a code just for you guys and they were awesome. They gave me a code for 25% off their annual subscription. Just download the app, try it for 10 days free and if you love it, then subscribe! Make sure to use this link if you want to subscribe, I get nothing from you using this link, it’s just easier to find this page this way. The code you would use for 25% off your annual subscription is CXGETSOMEHEADSPACE
Another thing about the 10 day trial is that it doesn’t keep track of the 10 days in a deadline form. If it takes you a month to do the 10 days, then that’s your 10 days to do as you please. I suggest you do them 10 days in a row, but when I first started, it was hard to do that so I appreciate the fact I could really try the app out without feeling pressured to do the meditations every day.
So those are my ways I practice self care throughout the year and especially at the holidays.
I really hope you can benefit from these. While I am affiliated with some sites I promote, these mentioned in this post are just favorites I wanted to share with you and the benefit for me is knowing I can spread a little calm to everyone else.
- Connor, M. (2016, May 04). Emotional Roller Coaster. Retrieved November 29, 2017, from http://www.brainlesstales.com/2016-05-04/emotional-roller-coaster
- Fitzpatrick, K. (2017, August 01). Why adult coloring books are good for you. Retrieved November 29, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/06/health/adult-coloring-books-popularity-mental-health/index.html
- Puddicombe, A. (n.d.). The Science Behind Meditation. Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://www.headspace.com/science