Dear College of Education Community,
This week is a time to remember all that we are grateful for as we enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. And as much as there is a feeling of appreciation for those in our lives who are so important to us, it can also be a time to be conscious of our own need for self-care and wellbeing. “The most wonderful time of the year is known to prompt joy, but the reality is that it may evoke stress as well” states Dr. Shainna Ali, who offers the following self-care tips in her blog in Psychology Today:
1. Make time for you-During the holiday season, it’s common to experience a surge in activities on your social calendar. Quite simply, it’s hard to practice self-care without the time. Some strategies (i.e., breathing techniques) can be practiced while out and about, but self-care commonly necessitates a calmer, quieter environment. While some people may be fueled by the increased engagement during the holidays, if you lean more towards introversion, intentionally blocking time for yourself is essential.
2. Be true to yourself-The commercialization of the holidays paired with the highlight reels of social media provides the perfect formula for competition. Take time to align with your values, and recognize what is important to you. If you reflect on this at the beginning of the season, you can check from time to time to make sure you are aligning with your true self.
3. Build your emotional intelligence-Society typically frowns upon being connected to your emotions. People who are sensitive often feel weak and vulnerable. However, attuning your emotional awareness is helpful in being able to discern your needs and regulate accordingly. It’s common to feel overwhelmed by the energy of the holiday season. When you recognize this emotion, you may be tempted to sweep it under the rug. But it doesn’t go anywhere, and it may actually grow and overpower you. On the other hand, being able to tap into your feelings allows you to use your emotions as signals. Noticing when you begin to feel overwhelmed can help you to recognize that you can cope to bring yourself back to equilibrium. Perhaps this means taking a break from the conversation or clearing some time for you the next day.
4. Create healthy boundaries-Boundaries are essential for our mental well-being. During the holidays, it can be helpful to establish and honor your limitations with yourself. If you cannot respect your own boundaries, you pave an easy path for others to step over your parameters as well.The holidays are often a prime time to practice your boundaries with others. Be mindful of creating boundaries to repel toxicity, but caution letting negativity overshadow positivity. A common mistake in enforcing boundaries is that they can be so stern that we may end up neglecting healthy connections. While you may need to exercise restraint with the person who is nagging you about your personal life, know when it’s okay to let someone in who genuinely cares about you.
5. Focus on the present-The holidays can be a time that we reflect on the past including thoughts of the year behind us, the traditions that have evolved, the relationships that ended, and the lives that we have lost. It can also be a time that prompts worry and fear, from concerns about being in the presence of toxic people or what is to come in the year ahead. We cannot time travel to the past or future. Instead of revisiting the past or obsessing about the future, give yourself the gift of the present. Take time to set technology aside and immerse yourself in the present moment as the best version of yourself.
6. Learn to let go-Since 2019 saw a surge in self-care efforts across the globe, you may have made more intentional efforts for your wellness than ever before. If this is the case, you may feel more prepared to handle seasonal stress than ever before. However, don’t let the pendulum swing too far to the irrational notion that you now have full control over how the holidays go. Take a moment to think about what you can manage, and what you need to release.
7. Don’t force change-During the holidays many spend more time with their loved ones than in the months prior. For some this warmth and connection align well with self-care, but for others, seeing others’ journeys can serve as a distraction. Self-care does not mean that you have to isolate yourself from your loved ones, but it’s important to recognize when you prioritize someone else’s wellness more than they prioritize their own. There are ways that you can help a loved one who might need help, however, research has shown that behavioral change is complicated and cannot be forced.
8. Practice gratitude-Gratitude is a gift that can help us broaden our perspective. It’s an excellent coping skill because it can be practiced at any time and it doesn’t cost a dime. Thankfulness is a gift that you can give yourself, but you may also choose to share your gratitude with others as well. If you catch yourself falling into negativity during the holidays, try to reflect on all that you are grateful for, not to minimize your struggles, but to help you see what your struggles may be overshadowing. Choosing to share gratitude with others can improve bonding and can spark warmth in your holiday gatherings.
9. Consider closure-With the end of the year near, you may find yourself evaluating the months prior. As you prepare for the new year (and new decade) ahead you might realize that there are obstacles to your mental wellness that you have been carrying that you no longer wish to hold. Perhaps this is a conflict with a once close loved one or an unhealthy habit you wish to cease. If you are ready and able, this is a great time to practice forgiveness. If your hopes are high, but you believe you are lacking the ability to address this concern, it may be helpful to consider seeking professional assistance to help you achieve closure in the future.
10. Commit to growth-The holiday season is a common time for self-reflection. This is a good time for self-exploration as you acknowledge the year behind you and the fresh year ahead. How have you made use of your strengths? How have you worked on your personal growth journey? Take time to embrace imperfection. Accept that no one is perfect; however, remember that we all have the potential to grow. Instead of shaming yourself for the resolutions you abandoned in February, make note of all that went well and use the remaining gaps to empower yourself to set self-loving goals for 2020.
To read more please go to: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-mentality/201911/self-care-the-holiday-season
For a list of other self-care options, you can also go to our COE self-care website for resources for faculty, staff, students, and the community at
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!