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Whole-Person Self-Care for the Holiday Period

by: Reesa Packard, M.A., Ph.D., R.P.

The dawn of a new holiday period is upon us once again; as the cool air sets in, the decorations are mounted, and typically, the to-do lists begin to grow… The holidays can be ripe with joy and celebration, but they can also be a time of stress. Being pulled out of our regular routines, eating more indulgent food, spending more money, being more immersed in the mixed experiences of family time, etc. can add up to create a holiday period that is harder than we hoped it would be. 

Whether there are specific stressors awaiting you this holiday period or you simply want to make the most of it, whole-person self-care can help you get there. So, what exactly is self-care? Self-care has its roots in 1950s medical communities, where it was learned that patients’ taking their own actions to care for themselves physically, spiritually, psychologically and emotionally was essential to their healing, health, and wellbeing. Now, decades later, the concept of self-care has been picked up by mainstream society. On social media, #selfcare now seems to depict a culture of luxurious consumerism and self-indulgence, but that is only part of its story. 

So, then what is whole-person self-care? While some versions of self-care can focus on a specific task that might help you feel better in one specific way, whole-person self-care is more like an attitude of overall self-reflection, and of building self-awareness, so that you can honour many different parts of yourself at once and care for your ‘entire self’. In this way, self-care is not only about taking a quick break or reveling in indulgences—self-care is about developing yourself, and your life, in a way that makes those breaks and indulgences less necessary to begin with. 

So, how can whole-person self-care help you this holiday season? You can use it as inspiration to get you thinking about questions like: “What is happening right now, how well is this working for me, and why?” “What is really important to me, out of all of this?” “How am I really doing?:” “How are my physical, spiritual, psychological and emotional parts doing right now?” “How are my relational, occupational, and financial parts doing right now?” “What do I want right now, what do I need right now, and how might those be different?”… These questions are the type that can lead you to become more self-aware, and as you build this self-awareness, you can have more clarity about the ways in which you might act to help yourself. 

Give yourself the best holiday gift this season, by connecting with yourself in the present! Try out some of the self-care strategies below: 

  • Physical: move your body or take rest, eat some nutrient-dense foods, quench your thirst, stretch your muscles, breathe deeply; 
  • Spiritual: immerse in a moment of silence, (re)discover some nature, attune deeply to yourself and others, contemplate some higher power or higher-order, seek experiences of awe and wonderment;
  • Psychological: build gratitude by naming what you are grateful for, emphasize relationships that fuel, and de-emphasize those that drain, ground yourself by scanning and taking in the details of the room and space around you; 
  • Emotional: practice feeling feelings as they arise, practice taking small breaks from feelings when they feel too intense, notice bodily sensations associated with feelings, try to fathom perspectives different than your own.

Professionals at CFIR can help you learn about and practice whole-person self-care. Contact us to inquire more and to begin or continue on your journey toward making yourself and your mental health a priority.

Reesa Packard is an Associate at CFIR. She has a doctoral degree from the Saint Paul School of Psychotherapy & Spirituality and works in private practice as a registered psychotherapist. She works with clients hoping to develop a more integrated sense of self as a means to well-being and meaningful, lasting transformation. Reesa is currently building a new service at CFIR called ‘The Integral Self’, which offers a place for clients to receive support and guidance in their advanced self-development, including spiritual and body-based growth. Reesa is also involved in the teaching and supervision of psychotherapists-in-training and advanced knowledge through research in her specialty fields.