Insights: Keep Calm for the Holidays

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We made it through another Thanksgiving, which is wonderful of course yet so often we end up stressed and telling ourselves next year we are not going to do so much.

Yet, guess what? Next year comes and we end up doing just as much.

So if you are going to do too much, at least take some time for self-care through the holidays. The busier you are, the more important it is for us to have a great self-care plan.  When I am very busy I actually increase my exercise. I tend to get more done this way, even though that seems to not make sense. Interestingly enough, when we have good self-care, we have more energy, we feel better both emotionally and physically, thereby allowing us to feel more motivated.

It is amazing how many people ask me what self-care looks like. We get so disconnected from ourselves we literally forget what we enjoy, what makes us feel rejuvenated.

Here are a few things you can do to get through the holidays that will help you feel calmer.

Start with reading a fun book, working less hours, and getting outside more. I love to just sit outside and face towards the sun, close my eyes and feel the heat on my face for a few minutes.

Other calm-inducing activities: Set an exercise goal, take a short nap, listen to a guided meditation, call a friend to just catch up, write a list of what you are grateful for each day, smile at yourself in the mirror, do something nice for a neighbor, listen to some classical music, walk along the beach, do some breathing exercises, make a healthy meal, or order out.

Again, just slow down and take a breath. I do this every time I start to notice my body getting tense, my attitude becoming less than positive, or I am getting tired. I just breathe.

Now that you have taken a breath, lets continue with this list.

Do some stretching, check in daily how you are doing with your boundaries, go to bed early, watch a movie, write in a journal, say no to events that are not important, watch the sunset or sunrise, read some positive quotes, eat your vegetables, remind yourself what is truly important, ask for a hug and hold it for a few seconds, exercise more, hire someone to help you.

This list can go on, but you get the point.

I do not know how to stress this enough (no pun intended), but self-care is critical for our physical and emotional well-being.

It is easy to get lost in our world of cell-phones and emails, doctor appointments and car-pooling children around. We tend to put self-care on the back burner like it is something that we can live without.

Stress is the largest reason we end up with physical ailments. Cortisol builds up in our body, which in turn decreases its immune system, and we age faster. Self-care is what alleviates our stress.

Emotionally not having enough self-care affects us to the point where it can increase such issues as anxiety, depression, and abuse of drugs, alcohol or food.

Learning where our edges are is crucial. We get lots of red flags that warn us that we have crossed over that boundary, our edges.  However, we tend to ignore it because in our mind we are excusing and justifying our decision to do more than what is good for us.  It takes constant checking in with ourselves and honoring those needs.

After all, who does not want to enjoy a walk on the beach?

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season, with an abundance of self-care.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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