The holidays can be a time of year full of sparkly lights, joy, and traditions, but for many, the holidays bring about many uncomfortable feelings and experiences. Whether this is due to familial dysfunction, death of a loved one, an increase in personal mental health symptoms, unwanted comments from family/friends, or other stressors, you are not alone in this.
In a research study by Healthline, “Sixty-two percent of respondents described their stress level as “very or somewhat” elevated during the holidays, while only 10 percent reported no stress during the season.
Among the holiday stressors listed by respondents were the financial demands of the season, negotiating the interpersonal dynamics of family, and maintaining personal health habits such as an exercise regimen.” We know it, holidays can be rough. With self-love, this time of year can feel less daunting.
What is Self-Love Anyways?
As described by a therapist, “Self-love means having a high regard for your own well-being and happiness. Self-love means taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Self-love means not settling for less than you deserve.” Self-love is essential to feeling fulfilled as well as to healthily cope with challenging life experiences, including the holidays.
The goal of manifesting and maintaining self-love during the holidays is to allow yourself to acknowledge your needs unconditionally.
How to Love Yourself Through it
Although the holiday experience can be daunting to many, there are positive initiatives you can engage in to support your mental health during the holidays. Try these tools to maintain self-love and boundaries during the holidays.
1.Give yourself a healing space.
Possibly one of the most important things to keep in mind is to allow yourself to feel how you are feeling. Also, allow yourself to get acquainted with your needs during this time. Give yourself that space, that space to be curious and gentle with yourself, the space to tune-in to you. Acknowledge and accept that these feelings and emotions are common, and there is no need to try to hide them.
2. Allow yourself to reach out for help.
Troubling times during the holidays are hard enough- you don’t have to do this alone! Reaching out for help can feel intimidating or shameful, but rest assured that it shows your strength as a human to be able to get support. Some ideas of where to get help include: Clarity Clinic, friends (both close and afar), support groups (many online and in-person), and text/warm lines Including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
3. Let your needs be known.
It can be challenging and vulnerable, but if you feel safe, you deserve to have your needs known. Allow yourself to communicate your needs, whether these needs include physical space from people, limiting time at a gathering, or turning down an invite. There is no shame in doing something that supports your wellbeing.
4. Express gratitude.
It can be so easy to only see the negative when we aren’t feeling the best, but by expressing gratitude we can bring in positive thoughts and attract positivity. Expressing gratitude makes us feel good and challenges us to experience joy. Try one of these gratitude practices: 1. Before going to bed, review your day and express thankfulness for one thing that you experienced; 2. Begin each day by writing a list of five things you are thankful for.
5. Volunteer or give kindness.
Giving just feels good and does good for our mental health & there’s science to back that. Especially during the holiday season, many agencies would be ecstatic to have a volunteer; such places can include a pet shelter, homeless shelter, soup kitchen/pantry, or even making Blessing Bags of essential items to bring to an agency that serves low-income individuals.
6. Give yourself love and kindness too.
You. Deserve. Joy! And don’t you forget it. When you bring awareness to your needs & feelings during this season, you are taking care of yourself, although it can be uncomfortable. Allow yourself to experience joy and comfort. Take a walk in your favorite neighborhood, make yourself your favorite meal, treat yourself to something you’ve been eyeing, or organize your space. Meet yourself where you are; having compassion and patience for yourself is so important for your mental wellness.
So much love & light to you during this season in life, from all of us at Clarity Clinic. Remember, you are a strong, resilient individual and we believe in you.
Written by: Caitlin Garstkiewicz, LCSW