Self-Care During Holidays

The Holiday season is one of my favorite times of year. People are usually in good spirits. Something about this time of year seems to put even the most cynical people in a good mood, so they’ll smile, wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, hold the door open for you, or give you a simple head nod. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or nothing at all I wish you Seasons Greetings.

Around the world there are many different traditions, “Today, a bucket of Kentucky fried has become the Christmas dinner of choice for millions of Japanese.” According to this article by Andrea Romano, 11 Unique Holiday Traditions from Around the World. "In Austria they celebrate with Krampus, his job is to punish bad children before Christmas. Krampus carries chains and a basket for abducting those especially bad children and hauling them to hell. In Australia, the land down under, December 25 falls in the middle of summer vacation, making it the perfect time to throw a yuletide beach party.

You may not celebrate anything at all, because for some this season plunges people into a dark place. This year is even more complicated because of the pandemic which has caused job loss for many. There were milestones like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations, etc. which were not able to be celebrated like normal. There was loss of life due to Covid-19 or because of Covid restrictions there was no proper goodbye for loss of life for other causes. Right now is a good time to reflect on what 2020 has brought us through because it’s been a lot. If you’re feeling down and you can’t pull yourself out, it’s okay to reach out for help. [National Alliance of Mental Illness 1-800-273-TALK (8255)]

Most of us are thinking “Good riddance to 2020, on to 2021!” But most of us were saying the same thing about 2019 and look at what hellacious things 2020 reigned down on us?! But I think 2020 was a great teacher. I joined a writing group, and the leader posted a question last week asking, “What has 2020 taught you?” I think it taught us resilience, and how to pivot. In order to stay in business, restaurants pivoted by quickly moving online with apps, or stepping up their service for ordering take-out. The industries for which it was possible, figured out how to have their employees work remotely from home without missing a beat. Zoom use skyrocketed, though there were some mishaps with user error. Not everyone understood the camera angle and that they either had to wear pants or make sure the camera was aimed at the right height to avoid inappropriate exposure.

It also taught us all that we needed to learn the importance of health care, self-care, but not everyone agrees. Wearing masks, social distancing, and washing our hands had become daily reminders and mantras on all fronts. But there have been debates and all out battles as to whether the government had the right to “make us wear masks.” Employees at stores and restaurants across the country have been assaulted including spit on when trying to enforce the store policy of mandatory masks for all customers. In Georgia a high school student was expelled for posting a picture of crowded hallways where few students were wearing masks when her school reopened at the start of the school year.

The racial and social injustice throughout the summer and fall was another layer of strain as the pandemic raged on. More unarmed black men were killed by police after George Floyd was murdered. There are still no charges filed in Breonna Taylor’s death. Then we got closer to a historic Presidential Election. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected, but after seven weeks the current President has yet to concede. The numbers for Covid-19 deaths continued to rise, we’re closing in on 300,000. Way too many lives lost. But there’s approval for two vaccines, front-line workers began getting vaccinated last week.

The importance of health care and self-care continues to be of major importance. Just like for Thanksgiving, the health organizations are saying it’s best that we not travel to see family for the holidays. Therefore, it may mean many of us spending the holiday alone or away from family. If that’s the case it could cause you to be stressed or a little blue. Or if you’re like a good friend of mine it could be a dream come true. If it causes some sadness for you, here’s an article by Anna Borges, 9 Self-Care Tips for Anyone Spending the Holidays Alone that can help. “Speaking of expectation-setting, it’s important even when you do want to make an effort to feel festive. After all, all the cultural expectations around the holiday season, from an emphasis on togetherness to ~merry and bright~ messaging, can be hard to shake. And telling yourself that you know you won’t have a “typical” holiday this year won’t magically erase your feelings. Still, trying to redefine what the holidays mean, even temporarily, can help lift a little weight off your shoulders.”

During the holidays self-care is a necessity because depending on your “role” in the family you could be the one running around buying the gifts, wrapping the gifts, buying the ingredients for the family dinner, cooking the family dinner, and mediating the family squabbles. With all that, you could end up overwhelmed, irritated, and running on empty since self-care is the last thing on your mind. Having a game plan and setting boundaries ahead of time will give you the self-care you desperately need.