The “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is also the most frantic! During the holiday season, it seems like at least once a week we are racing to an event. Let’s not get started talking about the rush to buy presents! But during this season of giving, what are we giving ourselves besides added stress?
It’s easy for survivors to undervalue the need for self-care. We often distract ourselves from the pain of our trauma by finding satisfaction in helping others. But what are we doing for ourselves? There is a reason that airlines tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we help anyone else out.
Survivors of sexual abuse have additional pressures that can make taking care of others more complicated. We have worked to better understand how to use our voice. We have processed our reactions when we feel others have either not heard, or chosen to ignore our words. We might even view, at times, our compulsion to look after others as a way to distract ourselves from difficult thoughts, feelings or even tasks. When we shine the light outward, it prevents us from seeing any darkness within. By not looking at our own needs we are neglecting an essential part of our healing and both spiritual and mental growth.
Self-care is multi-layered and easily customizable to fit our particular situation. Think of it as food for our minds and souls. We can have a snack or a meal. You can choose to eat something quick, comforting, healing or filling. Self-care is frequently talked as taking a pause in your day to reconnect with yourself to recharge your internal batteries. Most noticeably, the self-care industry focuses on consumer comforts like a luxurious bubble bath, cozy clothes, guilty pleasure entertainment. These are like the aforementioned snacks. But you can also opt for longer-lasting options that act like an inner meal for you, such as exercise, proper rest, meditation, therapy or even periodic (honest and vulnerable) check-ins with yourself.
All options have benefits depending on your particular needs and situations. Trust yourself to do what is right for you at any given moment. The time you give to yourself allows you to realign your mind, body, and spirit and create a well-spring of energy for you to get through the rest of your day and have the appropriate level of involvement with others in your life.
A common concern for people beginning to prioritize self-care is that it might be perceived as selfish.
In reality, self-care frees you from the effects of the drain of being excessively selfless.
Survivors have endured the pain of unmet needs and as a result, can numb themselves as a means of coping.
When you practice self-care, you are able to create a healthy dialogue with your body, mind and inner wisdom to accept yourself fully and attend to your needs in a particular moment.
You can begin your practice with a simple step. Remember to breath. A breath signals you that it’s time to slow down and be receptive to your inner wisdom. Listen to it without judgment. During the holidays, you might feel like you are in a fog. Let the light within you guide you away from any gremlin speak that may arise. These limiting beliefs and external echoes are distractions on your journey to healing and wholeness. Breathe. Ask yourself what you most need either for the month(s) ahead or at this exact moment. Let the answer form within you and meet it without judgment. You can also choose to ask yourself how much time each day you want to set aside for self-care. Know you can adjust this allotment each day, as long as you ensure some time is set aside for yourself.
This winter, we at Survivors to Thrivers encourage you to reassess your self-care strategies. This is a time when people can most feel stressed and out of balance. When this happens, a person loses touch with their inner essence and can unfairly prioritize the needs of others ahead of themselves. If one is not careful, they can be triggered with feelings of being unheard or undervalued.
By making a commitment to self-care a person is reminded of their inherent value and becomes more equipped to maintain thriver-mindset. Relationships between oneself and others improve since energy becomes more balanced. One’s physical and mental health improves due to the calming effects on the nervous system and prevents one from prolonged exposure to the toxic effects of hyperarousal. So, when you making your shopping list for holiday presents, don’t forget to include yourself. Give yourself the present of presence. Have fun and explore different options every day this month. If you need support, reach out to us via email, blog comments or through our social media channels. May the gift of self-care help you be the lightkeeper of love and hope for yourself and all those in your life. Thank you for being a part of this uplifting community.