- Nicole Vykoukal, LCSW
Thanksgiving is here, and it can be a psychologically and emotionally complex holiday for many. You may feel an array of emotions including loneliness, grief, joy, envy, guilt, and even anxiety. One thing is certain, the holidays bring stress (even if the stress is anticipation and excitement).
Consider implementing three self-care practices today.
First, practice abdominal breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose as your belly expands and exhale slowly through your mouth as your belly deflates and lowers towards your spine. Abdominal breathing helps lower your heart rate, increases oxygen delivery to your cells, and elicits a relaxation response increasing mental, emotional, and physical wellness. Belly breathe several times throughout the day. You can practice this breath while you are washing dishes, taking a walk in nature, sitting on the couch, or riding in the car.
Second, write or say a list of what you are grateful for. Research has shown that people who practice gratitude may sleep better, are less likely to experience PTSD, have increased self-esteem, and improved psychological health such as reduced depression and increased well-being. At first, it may be difficult to think of what you are grateful for, but everyone has things to be grateful for. For instance, access to clean water, access to transportation, your abilities (sight, hearing, and/or mobility) can all go on your list.
Third, take a moment to be in nature. This can include stepping outside for just a moment or even going for an after meal walk. While you are outside, put your phone down and be mindful of any plants, trees, insects, birds, and other animals. Also, practice abdominal breathing while you are outside.
Make sure you practice patience and self-compassion today and know that self-care does not have to be perfect. Progress, not perfection is an excellent self-care slogan.