Posted on 2 Comments

5 Self-Care Tips for the Holidays

Christmas gifts to help promote self-care
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

I think most of us would agree that this has been an extremely challenging year.  Many of us have experienced a lot of loss.  Some of us have lost loved ones.  Some of us have lost jobs.  And some of us have lost our homes.  The holidays can be tough when you are trying to adjust to loss of any magnitude and this year may be more challenging than most.  The following are what I hope to tips to help you practice self-care of yourself through these holidays.

The Power of No!

Holidays can be full of invitations.  The celebrations may look and feel a little different this year, but the invitations will probably still come.  You may feel obligated to attend or participate in these events because you were invited or because the event may be something that you would have attended in the past.  There is power in the word ‘no’.  I am talking about a good, old fashioned, solid ‘no’.  The kind of no that does not come with an explanation or an apology.  You deserve a holiday that does not leave you feeling overwhelmed and drained.

Stay Thankful

Holidays are a great time to reflect on our many blessings.  A great way to practice self-care is to think of the things that you must be thankful for.  A good way to do this is to keep a running list or journal to serve as a reminder of all the things you should be thankful for.  Revisiting your list or journal entries and thinking back on all the things you have to be thankful for can help a great deal. 

Allow Yourself to Feel

When those sad or unpleasant feelings begin to overwhelm you, your natural tendency may be to press them down and ignore them.  Doing this can lead to these emotions “eating you up” on the inside.  Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion that comes your way.  If you feel like laughing, laugh.  If you feel like crying, cry.  If you want to be to yourself because it is just too much to be around people, do that.  You can often do more harm to yourself than good when you try to suppress these feelings.  Be open to your feelings and allow yourself to feel them in their totality.  Accepting your feelings is a form of self-care as you allow yourself to feel emotions and work through them.

Keep a Routine

There is often great comfort in routine.  Knowing what is coming next can often ease a lot of anxiety.  There is a lot going on around the holidays and there is often a lot of pressure to get into the holiday spirit.  If you begin to feel down, sometimes the easiest way to get back to feeling like yourself a little is to continue your routine.  It may not be easy, and you may not feel up to continuing your entire routine but doing those things that are familiar can help prevent you from falling into a prolonged period of not feeling like yourself.

Keep Moving

There are so many benefits to physical activity.  Whether you are running, walking, or just moving around your house, physical activity decreases tension and stress while giving you a natural energy boost.  It can also reduce your risk of becoming depressed during this time.  When you stay in bed or start to become inactive, you may feel sluggish and your mental health may begin to be affected.  Move around even it is just to walk to the mailbox.  A part of self-care is to keep moving so that you can keep your energy level up and hopefully your mood elevated.

Christmas tree to help promote self-care
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Hopefully, these self-care tips will help ease any unpleasant feelings that you may feel throughout this holiday season.  Remember that all these feelings are normal and that you may have to intentionally put yourself first. 

What are some things that you do to practice self-care during the holidays?

The Serenity Room wishes you a Happy Holiday Season!

Posted on 1 Comment

Self-Care for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Mother kissing child

As a special needs parent, your self- care regimen is important. Caring for a child with special needs can be stressful.  In fact, the word stressful may be an understatement.  We all can attest that there are great days where our kids achieve something that we thought would not happen as soon as it did.  Your fellow special needs parents can understand the joy of a child eating a new food or acquiring a new skill or even speaking after countless doctors have told you that your child is nonverbal and will remain that way.

There is another thing I think we all can agree with when it comes to being parents of children with special needs and that is the fact that we often neglect to take care of ourselves.  As a busy mother of four children – one having an autism diagnosis – I am guilty if not taking care of myself like I should.  The following are a few ways that we can practice self-care.

Take 5-10 minutes for yourself

Depending on your situation, this suggestion may seem virtually impossible.  But you can do it.  You can spend this time mindlessly doodling.  Or you can use this time to just taking deep, cleansing breaths.  Deep breathing allows your body to relax and release any stress while giving you a boost of energy.  The life of a special needs parent can be very hectic and stressful.  Taking mental breaks can be just the thing you need to get you through your day.

Every day is not going to be a good day

We would all like to think that we can hold it together all day every day.  We hold the belief so tightly that we often think we have failed if we have a bad day.  Every day is not going to be a good day.  A bad day does not make you a bad parent. A bad day does not mean that you are not cut out to be a special needs parent or caregiver.  A bad day does not make you a failure.  Try your best to keep things in perspective.  Some days are just going to be hard but, as cliché’ as it sounds, tomorrow is a new day.

Allow yourself to feel

Life can be challenging as a special needs parent.  There is the constant worry that all of your child’s needs are not being met.  There is the isolation that your family may experience due to your child not being able to be around large crowds or loud places.  You may feel hesitant to honestly express yourself due to not wanting to sound like you are complaining.  But it is imperative that you allow yourself to feel whatever you may be feeling in the moment. Whether you journal or whether you have a good friend you can share your feelings with, allow yourself to feel. Allowing yourself to feel is a form of self-care because this can release some of your anxieties.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes we can be our own enemy. We can often become hindered by own negative self-talk and negative thoughts. Do whatever you can to remain positive.  Remind yourself of the great job that you are doing. Find something to do that is just for you. Read a good book even if you can only read a couple of pages a day. Find a show that you like on TV and watch it even if it takes forever to get through the whole series. The point is to not lose yourself and to stay connected to what you enjoy. So write if you like to write, read if you like to read, do whatever it is that you like to do even if you can only do it every now and then. Doing what you like to do it a form of self-care.

Take care of your mental health

Special needs parents experience a wide range of issues. There is guilt, anxiety, stress, depression, the list goes on and on. It is imperative that you take care of your mental health. Surround yourself with people who encourage and uplift you.  This can be achieved through support groups or through connecting with people who have a similar circumstance to yours. Be aware of your mental health and do not hesitate to see a therapist if you feel that that is what you need.  In other words, your self-care journey includes taking care of your mental health needs the same way that you take care of the needs of those that you care for and love.

Mother and son

It is not easy being the parent or caregiver of a special needs child. You always wonder if you are doing enough and you can sometimes be your own toughest critic.  I am here to tell you that you are doing a great job. You get up every day and do it have to be done for your family. Keep doing what you are doing and remember to take care of yourself.

What other self-care ideas would you add to this list?

Follow The Serenity Room on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!