In a regular year, the holiday season has the potential to be a stressful time. We pack our family and all our old patterns of negative behaviour under one roof for an annual event that looks a little like a variation of a Griswold’s Christmas. This year, we are up against the unique challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic precautions and restrictions, which may limit our ability to be with loved ones, keep us sheltered-in-place with our immediate family (yes, still) or isolated and feeling lonely.
For anyone battling with their mental health, addiction or recovery, the holidays can create shaky ground. Traditions promote “Eat, Drink and be Merry!” supported by an increased presence of alcohol, and there are no lack of triggers that may beg us to numb our feelings through substance use.
At EHN, our wish for you and your family is to stay focused on your mental and physical health, while feeling joy that can be found throughout the holiday season.Our team has put together a guide to the three pillars of self-care to support you through this season.
Pillar One: Physical Self-Care
You already know what we are going to say here: Exercise, Sleep and Nutrition! At our Sandstone facility, we emphasize the importance of each, and make them a daily practice.
Regular exercise promotes good mood, sleep and physical health. The endorphins produced during exercise are the body’s “feel-good” chemicals that trigger positive feelings. Engagement in regular exercise also gives people a sense of daily achievement.
Now, doing this during a pandemic and in the winter months in Canada poses its own set of challenges; on the days that you can, get outside for a run or walk, or dig out that old toboggan and get some hill climbs in (and wear that smile as you take the easy way down!).
Other exercise ideas:
- There are limitless possibilities for guided workouts on Youtube that will allow you to use what you have at home, including yoga or body weight workouts. Read our blog 7 Exercises For A Great Home Workout During Self-isolation for more at home workout ideas.
- Have a holiday dance party! Crank the stereo and commit to dancing for a certain number of songs. Don’t be shy to sing along, and if you’re able to, invite your friends to join you in an online room!
- You know that household chore or project you’ve been putting off? Tackle it and consider it an exercise credit. Vacuum the whole house or organize your garage and check off two boxes at once!
Get Enough Sleep
A restful sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health. It’s like connecting to a charger overnight, healing and repairing our bodies after a day of use to support healthy brain function and maintain our physical well-being.
Try your best to manage a regular sleep pattern by getting to bed at the same time every night. If you have trouble sleeping, take an inventory on the food and drink that you have consumed and how much exercise you are getting. Cut out caffeine and sugar wherever possible and increase your exercise if needed.
We know that a good sleep can be hard to obtain, so check in with your doctor if you need to explore this further.
Fuel Your Body with Healthy Foods
Healthy eating helps you with recovery by allowing your mind and body to work better and heal faster. Eating healthy stabilizes your mood, improves your focus, increases your energy, and makes you better at resisting cravings. At Sandstone, Chef Jeff prepares a very intentional menu of balanced, nutritious meals that serve the body and satisfy the soul.
During the holidays we often indulge in cookies, cakes and pies. Too much sugar (simple carbohydrates) can cause you to have unstable energy levels, intensified cravings, and lower willpower. When you know better, you do better, so check out this blog that dives into the details on the benefits of healthy eating.
Pillar Two: Mental & Emotional Self-Care
Too often we focus on maintaining our outward appearance without considering what is happening on the inside. Self-love and self-acceptance are critical to our mental health, and we can’t support our physical health without a healthy mind.
This holiday season, take a few moments a day to do a self check-in. Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:
- Keep a gratitude and appreciation journal beside your bed. In the morning, write down three things you are grateful for (what a lovely way to start the day!) and then at night, write down three things you appreciate about yourself. This is a quick and easy way to understand the quality of your thoughts and generate some positive energy.
- Take a moment a few times a day to do a physical and emotional scan. Close your eyes, start with your toes and work your way up, ending in your emotional centre. Take the time to address any of your physical or emotional needs so that anything left unchecked doesn’t derail your day.
- Allow yourself to feel and accept your emotions as they arise. Reach out to your support network if you need to connect, or practice mindfulness and mediation to try and work through your emotions on your own.
Pillar Three: Practical Self-Care
They’re called practical because they are typically easy things to do to support your mental and physical health. Include these easy items in your self-care checklist to get through this holiday season:
- Practice effective time management. Rushing through your day can make it very difficult to enjoy the present. Take a few minutes at the end of each day to make a plan for the next day. Organization and structure provides stability and reduces stress that can take the fun out of the holidays.
- Avoid impulse buying and excessive spending. The holidays can put pressure on all of us to give beyond our means, but we don’t want to feel the regret of this later. Create a budget for spending that stays within your means.
- Take the time to organize and simplify your living space. Remove clutter that can cause you to feel overwhelmed.
We Can Help You
If you’d like to learn more about the addiction and mental health treatment programs provided by Sandstone in Calgary, enrol yourself in one of our programs, or refer someone else, please call us. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.