Category Archives: Self Care

A soothing “log cabin” meditation to ease you into the new year

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An excellent resolution for the new year would be to add meditation to your self care routine.

If you can’t meditate every day, why not resolve to meditate on Mondays? Meditation Mondays — that’s easy to remember.

Meditation is so good for you! It can help you reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, improve your memory and prep your mind for better decision-making. Many report that meditation helps them sleep better and make mindful choices. It can even build up your immune system! Continue reading

A Cozy New Year’s Eve In

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

It happens. You had planned to go out for New Year’s Eve…but the weather turned out to be too dreadful. Or you or someone in the family isn’t feeling well. Whatever the reason, you’re home this year for New Year’s Eve and it’s going to be a quiet evening. But you still want to celebrate! How to make the best of it?

Continue reading

ASMR Christmas

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

This is something a little different to try, if you haven’t tried ASMR before.

This YouTuber, ASMR Darling, has assembled a variety of Christmas items. Along with her voice, she uses the items in this video to produce sensory effects that can spur a pleasant and relaxing response in many people. She receives millions of views for her amusing and well-produced ASMR videos.

Watching and listening to the “triggers” in a video like this can make you feel relaxed or sleepy. Some of the sounds might make you feel shivery or tingly (but not in an unpleasant way). Others might not elicit a response. Everyone is different. I recommend you listen to this video using headphones to take advantage of the binaural effects.

I hope you enjoy it! It’s an innocent, free, holiday pleasure!

I especially like the tapping…and the Christmas tree! Let me know if you had any tingles!

A guided Christmas-themed meditation

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Here is a lovely, guided meditation from Peaceful Meditations that offers a soothing and creative spoken script facilitating visualization of beautiful Christmas imagery, accompanied by soft, background Christmas music.

I hope you can take time to relax and make meditation a part of your self care this holiday season.

Enjoy!

Your Christmas Self-Care Plan

Did you know that 1 in 5 people cope with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety? And that 1 in 10 people are in recovery from addiction? If you have one of these challenges, you are not alone. And you may know that Christmas can be an especially stressful time, and that stress can make these conditions worse.

Even if you do not have one of these conditions, if you are spending Christmas alone, you may feel anxious or down about it. Or maybe you just find getting together with your family to be a bit stressful.

Well, it is stressful. Christmas Day is the number one day of the year for heart attacks. The second highest is the day after Christmas.

That’s why everyone needs a self-care plan for Christmas. Your self-care plan should remind yourself that you have value and provide for resources in case you need them. Talk with a therapist, sponsor, relative or friend about your Christmas Day self-care plan. This builds in a measure of accountability.

Here’s an example of a self-care plan for Christmas.

  • Stay on schedule with medications, meals and sleep routines.
  • Get a flu shot and wash your hands frequently to avoid catching a cold or other virus.
  • Set aside time to relax and measure your expectations. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
  • When it is freezing outside, bundle up. Sudden exposure to frigid weather is hard on your heart.
  • Stay hydrated and enjoy meals that are right for your dietary needs. Decide where you will conserve calories and where you will splurge. Eat mindfully at a dining table.

    advent bake blur break

    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comRemember to drink water throughout the day. Try hot herbal tea to relax.

  • Abstain from alcohol or reduce it.
  • Set aside time for exercise. Movement helps reduce anxiety and depression. You can burn 250 – 350 calories in just one half hour of skating!
  • Practice mindfulness. Meditate, pray, say affirmations, do deep breathing, complete a Christmas craft or color.
  • Connect with people. If you can, spend part of the Christmas holiday with family or friends. If you can’t, arrange time to call them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. If these aren’t options, spend a part of the day around people: at a restaurant, museum, church or support group, for example.
  • Do something nice for yourself. I like scented candles, so I will light those when I relax. Maybe a small poinsettia would brighten your day.
  • Plan something fun to do that you really enjoy. Having something to look forward to is a big element of personal happiness. Music, laughter, creativity and exercise are elevating. Check out the December calendar.
  • red lighted candle

    Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com

    Express gratitude. Write thank you notes for presents or send cards to people you appreciate. Say thank you to people to sales people, postal employees, wait staff and teachers.

  • Laugh! Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, Friends Christmas episodes or listen to old time radio Christmas episodes of The Jack Benny Show or Our Miss Brooks.
  • Plan for help if you need it. If you have become depressed or anxious in the past on Christmas, develop a self-care plan with your therapist. If you don’t have a therapist, call the Merrifield CSB 24-hour crisis number (703) 559-3000 for assistance.
  • Enjoy a Christmas Day meal with other people in recovery. The Unity Club in Falls Church, a hub for 12-step meetings, offers a free Christmas meal from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. with fellowship and great food. You can sign up in advance to bring a dish to share, if you like.
  • Plan something fun to do on December 26. Christmas day and the day after Christmas can be a big let down, which can lead to a worsening of depression or other symptoms. The way I get around this anti-climax of a day I extend my Christmas until January 6 (Epiphany), so that the end of the season is more gradual thing. I don’t recommend that you head to the malls on the day after Christmas, even if they do have sales on this day. Having worked in retail for years, I can attest that people will be irritable on the day after Christmas, parking will be abysmal and lines will be long. Do something fun instead. There’s still a lot of Christmas left in the month!

What other ideas do you have for a Christmas self-care plan?

Happy Thanksgiving! Take a break with a gratitude meditation

This year, I have been learning and practicing meditation and mindfulness as part of my self care and personal development. I wanted to share this gratitude meditation. It’s only 5 minutes long.

If you feel your attention wandering, just notice the feeling or thought and turn your attention back to your breath. It’s normal to feel distracted or think of other things.

Continue reading

Free Thanksgiving Meals in Northern Virginia and DC

Are you having one of those years? We’ve all been there, one time or another. You are not alone and support is available.

Here is a short list of places that are offering free Thanksgiving meals and fellowship for people who are in recovery, are experiencing homelessness or are coping with financial challenges or other problems.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and keep on keeping on!

  • Sheltered and unsheltered homeless people can enjoy a meal at The Embry Rucker Shelter in Reston (next to the Reston Public Library) at no cost. Call for more information (703) 437-1975.
  • The Unity Club in Falls Church City is a hub for 12-step meetings and fellowship in recovery. They are offering a free, potluck Thanksgiving meal from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. You can sign up in advance to bring a dish of your choosing, but it’s not required.
  • The Salvation Army serves a free meal, the Safeway Feast of Sharing, on Wednesday, the day BEFORE Thanksgiving, to more than 5,000 people at the Walter E. Convention Center in Washington, DC.

 

Thanksgiving for one: making a solitary holiday special

Have you ever spent Thanksgiving by yourself? You’re not alone! Maybe you are one of the people who…

  • Are single and live alone; a growing population in nearly every age range.
  • Share custody of their kids and it’s not their turn to spend Thanksgiving with them this year.
  • Can’t afford to travel to see distant relatives.
  • Don’t have any family members left or are estranged from their family.
  • Work on Thanksgiving Day or on Black Friday.
  • Experience depression, anxiety or other challenges that cause them to isolate.
  • Enjoy having the day to themselves.

Continue reading

Your Thanksgiving Self-Care Plan

Be present in all things, and thankful for all things — Maya Angelou

718-6IH9jXLDid you know that 1 in 5 people cope with a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety? And that 1 in 10 people are in recovery from addiction? If you have one of these challenges, you are not alone.  Thanksgiving can be an especially stressful time, and that stress can make these conditions worse.

Even if you do not have one of these conditions, Thanksgiving may stress you out.

That’s why you need a self-care plan for Thanksgiving Day. Your self-care plan should remind yourself that you have value, adhere to your healthy boundaries and provide for resources in case you need them.

Consider reviewing your plan with a therapist, sponsor, relative or friend.

Here’s an example of a self care plan for Thanksgiving.

  • Stay on schedule with medications, meals and sleep.
  • Set aside time to rest and relax. Don’t take on more than you can handle.
  • Choose safe driving times. Consider not driving between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., when most DUI accidents occur.
  • Enjoy a special meal that is right for your dietary needs.
  • Abstain from alcohol or reduce what you imbibe.
  • Set aside time for exercise. Movement helps reduce anxiety and depression. Stretch, walk outisde, run, bike or do yoga.
  • Practice mindfulness. You can choose to meditate, say affirmations, do a craft or color. Practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques.
  • Express your gratitude. Be thankful in a way that is meaningful to you. Gratitude helps relieve depression and anxiety, and has many health benefits.
  • Connect with people and avoid isolating. If you can, spend Thanksgiving with family or friends. If you can’t, arrange time to call them on Thanksgiving Day. If these aren’t options, spend a part of the day around people.
  • Do something nice for yourself. Ideas: a bubble path, pedicure, or hair cut/style.
  • Plan something fun to do that you really enjoy. Check out the Cool Yule November calendar for ideas.
  • Laugh! Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, Friends Thanksgiving TV episodes or listen to old time radio Thanksgiving episodes of The Jack Benny Show or Our Miss Brooks (you can find them on YouTube).
  • Arrange for help, in case you need it. Put the phone number of your emergency contact person (sponsor, therapist, doctor, etc.) in your phone, to be used in case a crisis develops. The Merrifield CSB in Fairfax County also has a 24-hour mental health crisis number (703) 559-3000.
  • Enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal with other people in recovery. The Unity Club in Falls Church offers 12-step meetings and a free Thanksgiving meal from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. with fellowship and great food. You can sign up in advance to bring a dish to share, if you like. Recovery Program Solutions of Virginia is offering a free Thanksgiving meal on November 21 at the Merrifield Peer Resource Center at 12 Noon and on other dates at four other locations in Northern Virginia for people who are living with mental illness and/or addiction..

What other ideas do you have for a Thanksgiving self-care plan?

Gratitude inventory for Thanksgiving

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” — Aesop

The Health Benefits of Gratitude

It’s amazing that the active practice of gratitude has more positive impact on some aspects of our health than prescription medication (with zero side effects!). Gratitude journaling or thoughts have been found to reduce blood pressure, alleviate depression, improve sleep, boost energy, reduce pain and motivate physical activity.

Expressing Gratitude at Thanksgiving

Some families create a Thanksgiving tree, or use a gratitude jar to remind themselves and their loved ones of their blessings in a concrete way that is easy to share.

Gratitude Jar Activity

I think this is a wonderful idea. I bought a gratitude jar from Target from $3. Everyone draws out a chip and says why they are grateful for things like a favorite teacher, a special time of day, and lots of other things I hadn’t considered being thankful for.

Counting our Blessings

It would be easy to make your own with any kind of container and slips of paper. There are plenty of similar projects online.

Here are some ideas for things to express gratitude for on Thanksgiving.

  • The love and support of our family.
  • The company of our friends.
  • The comfort and security of our home and community.
  • The efforts of our teachers.
  • Our jobs.
  • Our volunteer work or causes that give us purpose.
  • Our faith in God or a higher power.
  • Our good health.
  • The companionship of our pets.
  • The bounty of our Thanksgiving meal.
  • Our good memories of people who have passed.
  • Our challenges that help us grow.
  • The dedication of our police officers, fire fighters and first responders.
  • The courage of our military.
  • The expertise of our doctors and people who help keep us healthy.
  • The beauty of nature and the blessing of our environment.
  • The luxury of time to do the things we love to do.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?