Now that the holidays are over, many people find themselves feeling like they need a vacation.
Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits and typical routines leave us feeling out of sorts. Add to that the pressure of shopping, cooking/baking elaborate meals and attending and/or hosting constant parties…!
Many of us end up feeling depleted as we enter into the New Year.
So what can we do to recover from the holidays so that we can get through the winter?
Self-care has been a buzz word for many years now. The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress”.
There is a lot of research supporting the extensive benefits of regularly engaging in self-care activities, such as exercise, taking a bath, reading a book, taking a nap, doing an adult colouring book, etc. Prioritizing time for self-care activities is important at all times, but is of particular importance if the holiday season has left you feeling drained.
However, it is important to note that not all self-care activities have the same long-lasting replenishing effect.
So how do we know which self-care activities will leave us feeling most refreshed and ready to tackle the New Year, after the bustle of the holidays?
What types of self-care exist?
Some self-care activities serve a soothing function in our lives. A soothing activity is anything that helps to soothe upset feelings and/ or enhance feelings of calm and well-being. The benefits of a soothing activity last for a period that extends beyond the duration of the actual activity.
Some of my personal
Other self-care activities may serve a function of distraction. These types of activities put distance between ourselves and a stressful situation. This distance gives time for the intensity of our emotional response to settle so that we can deal with our feelings in a productive manner. Distraction can keep us from engaging in unhealthy behaviours that we may otherwise use to deal with stressful events.
Distraction can be a useful, productive self-care technique to use; however, distraction techniques tend to not produce the same longer lasting benefits that extend beyond the actual activity, in the way that soothing techniques do. Some of my favourite distraction activities are reading, listening to podcasts, connecting with a friend, and cooking. These activities allow me to get distance from the intensity of certain emotions, when needed, so that I can deal with a situation more effectively.
What type of self-care works best?
The type of self-care activities that will be most beneficial depend on the situation. One type is not inherently better than the other. Using a balance of both soothing and distraction, as appropriate to the situation, can be beneficial.
What works best is developing a conscious awareness of whether you are using an activity to distract or to soothe yourself. This will enable you to choose self-care activities that best meet your needs in different situations, leading to enhanced benefits of your self-care activities.
If you are feeling tired from the holidays, it is likely that you could use some additional time spent engaging in soothing activities, as these have a more durable effect on recharging us when we are feeling spent.
What can I do to replenish my energy, starting today?
1. Make sure your self-care activities are ones that you enjoy.
What constitutes self-care for one person is not necessarily relaxing to another.
For instance, many women love to have their nails done and cherish the self care that comes from this “me time”. Personally, I get no particular enjoyment from having my nails done. Consequently, if I chose this as a form of self-care, it would not be terribly effective for me.
Connect with your feelings both during and after the self-care activities that you are engaging in. Does the activity leave you feeling at least somewhat more relaxed? If it doesn’t, it may not be the right fit for you.
2. Identify which self-care activities serve a distraction function in your life, and which serve a soothing function.
To further complicate matters, self-care activities that are distracting to one person may be soothing to another. For example, one person might go for a walk while listening to music, as a distraction, whereas another might go for a walk and connect with the sights and sounds around them, which would have a more soothing effect.
Make a list of the self-care activities that you engage in. Start to notice if these activities serve as a distraction in your life, or if they are soothing. Jot this down beside each activity.
3. Choose the right self-care activities at the right time.
Become familiar with when you need a distraction and when you need soothing. Use your list to guide you to choose the self-care activities that are most appropriate to you in the moment, until this becomes second nature.
4. Schedule regular “appointments” for self-care activities into your agenda.
I schedule blocks of time for self-care into my agenda the way I would a work meeting or a doctor’s appointment. I then guard this time preciously. This is the only way that I have managed to diligently incorporate self-care into my routines.
When we don’t prioritize self-care, it tends to come last in our busy lives, leaving us more prone to stress. Make a commitment to yourself by putting your self-care activities at the top of your priority list. Doing so regularly will help you to build up the resilience needed for more stressful moments in life.
If you are looking for ways to support the well-being of the staff within your workplace, so as to reduce employee disengagement, absenteeism
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