LIndsay Lapaquette

LIndsay Lapaquette

I work with organizations who want to elevate team performance by refining leadership communication skills.

Self-Care Activities: Are You Soothing or Distracting?

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?

Prioritizing self-care

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 favourite soothing activities include meditation, being in nature, deep-breathing exercises, quietly sipping tea, doing Essentrics, and paddleboarding.  All of these activities leave me with a deep feeling of peace and relaxation that lasts for varying periods, even once I have stopped the activity.

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 and burnout, you can learn more about my corporate wellness workshops at https://collaborative-solutions.ca/corporate-workshops/

If you liked this post, you might also like:

10 Stress-Busting Daily Mindful Moments

Find Balance By Saying Yes to Yourself First

Setting Boundaries and Sticking to Them

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with organizations who want to invest in elevating team performance by refining leadership communication skills. Lindsay’s background as a former Speech-Language Pathologist, specialized in working with clients with social interaction challenges, brings a unique perspective that helps leaders and organizations get to the root of complex communication issues so they can save time, money and sanity.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two children with pervasive mental health challenges, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend beyond her professional expertise.

To learn more about Lindsay’s programs, please visit lindsaylapaquette.com

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email
Share on skype
Share on pocket
eguide

10 TIPS

How to Navigate a Difficult Conversation

Are stressful interaction at work leaving you feeling frustrated or even exasperated?

Subscribe now to get your free eGuide as well as tips to on how to cultivate and sustain stress-free communication at work.