View in Browser



Embracing self-care during the holidays

by Rosario Zavala, MSW, LCSW, CEAP 

Feeling frustrated, angry, and fatigued? You are not alone. The past twenty-one months have taken a toll on all of us. So, how do we manage to celebrate the holidays when we are feeling depleted? How do we put aside the emotional and the physical exhaustion and attempt to get into the spirit of the holidays? We start where we are at this moment, and we focus on taking care of ourselves.

You may think that contemplating self-care during the holidays is absurd, however it is essential for your mental health and overall well-being. It all starts with the basics, plan on getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night; eat three meals a day with healthy snacks in between; stay hydrated, to keep up your physical energy, and better regulate your emotions during this hectic season. Consider these additional suggestions:

  • Check in with yourself throughout the day. Ask yourself, what kind of thoughts are you entertaining? are you self-blaming, self-shaming, or feeling guilty about not doing enough? Take a few deep breaths and use self-compassion to be kind to yourself. Self-compassion is about being a good friend to yourself during difficult moments. Instead of being harsh or self-critical, one becomes encouraging and supportive, validating our own feelings without adding fuel to the fire. Pair this check-in with a calming phrase.
  • Establish a daily deep breathing practice. Set aside 10 minutes of your day and practice breathing techniques. This will go a long way in instilling a sense of calm and serenity in your day.
  • Use self-soothing techniques to bring you back to the present moment. Engage one sense at a time, look up at the sky above - see the cloud formations, sing, or hum your favorite song, burn a scented candle, drink a cup of hot cocoa, and wrap up in a soft blanket. These simple techniques will help comfort you.
  • Take a mental vacation. Take 20 minutes to close your eyes and escape to your favorite place, real or imaginary. Set your alarm in case you nod off.
  • Use calming phrases. “This feeling is temporary.”, “I can manage this.” or “I have enough. I am enough” You may wish to place your hand on your heart for additional soothing.
  • Use supportive touch. Research shows that physical touch releases oxytocin, providing a sense of security, soothes distressing emotions, and calms cardiovascular stress. Try crossing your arms and give yourself a gentle squeeze or gently rub your chest using circular motions.
  • Learn to meditate. If you are new to meditation, try using an app such as Mood Candy, Calm or Headspace to be guided through a meditation. Start with a short 5-to-10-minute meditation to avoid overwhelming yourself.
  • Engage in one activity that brings you pleasure and joy on a daily basis. Ask yourself the following: What brings me joy, pleasure, and connection? When do I feel my best, and what am I doing when I am at my best?
  • Lastly, offer yourself grace and gratitude for doing everything you have done this past year to keep your family, your community, and yourself safe and afloat. Go easy on yourself and others around you.
The staff at the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) wish you and your family a time of joy, connection, and harmony during this holiday season. We are grateful for the ongoing support and interest you have shown our program this past year. Please contact us at 305-284-6604 to schedule a consultation.

Click here to read the full Mind and Matter Holiday Edition.