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I’m writing to you now from my couch, face aglow in a sun lamp, compelled to reach out to those whose current emotional state may reflect a friend’s Facebook post photo shared this morning:
For families with extra caregiving responsibilities—an aging parent, a family member who you are supporting through a substance use or mental health crisis, or a child or adult family member with a disability—or possibly even a combination of more than one of those—December can be a particularly tough month.
Expectations rise even amidst our still semi-isolated “Covid life.” The stress accompanying holiday preparation and observances can make unrestful sleep, illnesses triggered by mental or physical overexertion, anxiety, or depression all resurface, and may make getting to the growing “to do” list all the more un-enjoyable.
You may already do some things to make your daily life more bearable—exercise, meditation, that special hot (or cold) beverage—but the “D” month may require some extras to help you survive, and maybe even ENJOY, this demanding month where we must face both early darkness and blinding commercial cheerfulness.
Top of our list in our daily planners or reminder apps should be: SELF-CARE. Small things like 10 minutes of prayer or silence, using your go-to supports like essential oils, music, reading, a few extra minutes in a hot bath or shower are important to retain or add to our schedules. Sometimes this may require delegating a task to someone else or asking for support—we often need the reminder to let others know when we need help. If you have loved ones who are shopping for you, self-care could also take the form of letting others know what you want or need as they are trying to complete their gift giving list! Treating ourselves to a “virtual” or in-person coffee or meal out with a friend, a massage, manicure, or other treat may seem over-indulgent, but these are valuable ways to feel good and fill our “giving tanks.”
Another way to do this is to give of ourselves in small, easily attainable ways: a phone call or writing a card to a far-away friend, sending a small surprise gift, picking up a grocery-store flower bouquet and dropping it to a friend or shut-in. Giving can resuscitate our outlook and help us appreciate our blessings and feed our souls through spreading kindness to those around us. Using a talent you enjoy like drawing, writing, painting, or crafting is a wonderful way to bring a bit of beauty into the world and another way to give of yourself.
The “season of giving” is a special time of year we often recognize and honor the value of those around us, but let us remember that the act of SELF-CARE may plant the seed of encouragement that the JOY within us needs to grow.
This blog was written by guest author, Maria Miller. Maria is the editor of the “Help and Hope: From Families who have Walked the Walk” book series. She also works as a Team Leader for Independent Monitoring for Quality. Maria is a wife and the mother of three. She has written additional blogs, such as “9 Lessons from the Farm,” sharing what she has learned from her daughter’s 10 years of riding lessons on a farm, and “A Chance to Grow,” which was about her experience working on our second guide, “Help and Hope: From Families Who Have Walked the Walk, Substance Use: The Growing Need to Know.”
Cover photo from @benwhitephotography via Unsplash.
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