• Caroline Young

Free Self-Care Tools for the Holiday Season

This is a time of year when I feel like it is really easy to disconnect from our bodies. Whether it’s trying to tie up lose ends at work, trying to jam in extra social events or dealing with grief, it is a time that can be really taxing on all parts of us. Don’t get me wrong — I generally enjoy everything that comes with the holidays — good food and drink, extra time with friends and family, making my dog wear a red snowflake sweater, etc. But I think that the busier our lives become, the more and more important it becomes to create non-negotiable time and space to care for ourselves.

So, I want to share with you some tools that help me to stay grounded and free from the underlying anxiety I often feel around this time of year:

  1. Meditation Recordings:

The most common reason I hear for people not practicing meditation is that their minds are too busy. Well, yes of course– if you are a human, you have a busy mind. That is all the more reason to practice! Meditation is not about silencing thoughts– it is about observing them and being with them without attaching to them and getting wrapped up in the story. That will happen though, and the key is catching yourself and coming back to your breath or whatever it is you have chosen to focus on.

Loving kindness (or metta) meditation is really great for this time of year, because it can sometimes be challenging to be around certain family members or people. It helps us to live through the filter of compassion (for self and then others) and through the heart. This audio recording is a little over five minutes long: loving kindness meditation.

If you’re like me and get caught up in a flurry of anxious thoughts around this time of year, try this brief grounding meditation I created just for that: Brief Grounding Meditation for Anxious Thoughts.

  1. Diet Culture Re-Frame Worksheet:

There’s a good chance you’ll hear lots of diet culture BS over the next month or so. Since our culture has unfortunately normalized disordered eating practices, there tends to be lots of calorie talk, guilt around food, and talk about plans for future restriction. While we can’t control what comes out of other people’s mouths (sucks, right? haha), we can control which thoughts we decide to believe and to take as our truths. You do not have to believe all of your thoughts!

If you are working on de-conditioning your own internalized disordered messages around food, body and exercise, I think my worksheet will be helpful for you: Replacing Disordered Thoughts with Nurturing Thoughts.

It helps you to strengthen the “nurturing voice” that we all have within us, which often gets buried by the “disordered voice.” Once you come up with your own nurturing voice responses, when the disordered voice interrupts your holiday season, notice when that happens, and just observe. You can place the phrase, “I am having the thought that…” in front of the disordered thought (i.e. “I shouldn’t eat that cookie because cookies are bad. Sugar is toxic and addictive.”), which creates space between yourself and the thought. Then, you can use your nurturing response (i.e. “I am allowed to have the cookie if it is what will be nourishing to me right now – I know that if I deprive myself of cookies, I will just think about them more. It’s normal and fun to enjoy holiday cookies.”), and let that guide your choices instead.

  1. Values Alignment Journal Prompt:

Journaling is my go-to for safe emotional expression. I tend to just let words pour out of my fingers as I write, particularly during times of stress, anxiety and sadness, but also during times of gratitude and joy.

I talk to my clients, who struggle with disordered eating, often about values and how their behaviors and thoughts around food, body and movement are aligned (or mis-aligned) with their core life values. Literally, all of my clients state their highest life value is connection — relationships to their family and to their friends. I use this journal prompt with them to help them to gain awareness of how their thoughts and behaviors around food and body feed into their values, or not. It can be an eye-opening way to understand which thoughts and behaviors serve us, and which ones do not. This awareness can sometimes make it easier to let go of unhealthy behaviors around food and movement. If you are on your own path to food and body peace, I think you’ll benefit from this journaling exercise: Values Alignment Journal Prompt.

Here is another wonderful journal tool that I think is especially helpful during the holidays:

At the top of a blank page, write: “What is truly nourishing to me?” And start your own nourishment list (Nourishment is about food, yes, and it is also about other parts of your life — self-care, relationships, sleep, etc.) Then, further down the page, write “What is nourishing to my body?” Let your answers come. Continue with these two other questions: “What is nourishing to my mind?” and “What is nourishing to my spirit?”

Come back to this list again and again throughout the holiday season as often as you need. Remember, the more you take care of yourself, the more you can be there for others and really show up as the person you want to be.

I hope you find at least one of these tools useful for you and I wish you a truly happy and healthy holiday season!

If you would like to develop a healthier relationship to food and a sustainable, joyful approach to eating, and/or you are struggling with disordered eating or chronic dieting, please contact me via my Contact Page and explore my Work With Me Page.

In true health,

Caroline

#selfcare #nourishment #holidays #meditation #yoga #nutrition

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