Self Care During the Holiday Season

Recently I’ve had some surprising moments of peace and well-being – so I thought I’d share with you.  —  with joy, Kerri

Self-care is a term thrown around a lot nowadays.  In some ways the term has become commodified, used to sell products like at-home beauty treatments and fuzzy socks.  Some people joke about eating a big bowl of ice cream as “self-care.” I’m not one to turn down ice cream or comfortable socks, but truly caring for ourselves involves reaching the heart.

When I was a child, my grandparents gave out “treat bags” for Christmas.  Each bag  contained an orange, a candy cane, nuts, and chewing gum.  Decades ago, when my great-great-grandparents gave out Christmas goodies, those items were considered fancy.  By the time I came around, those foods were not expensive, but the treat bags still symbolized love.  So, here’s the surprising self-care moment.  A few days ago I ate a clementine, and then decided to eat a mint.  The taste of citrus and mint jolted me back thirty years in time.  True, the eating itself was a relaxing moment.  Yet reliving the good memories and warm feelings that rushed in were the true self-care.

Another surprising self-care moment happened outdoors.  Stepping outside to walk the dog, I noticed the rustling of autumn leaves and the chill in the air.  Those are ordinary sensations for a fall day.  Suddenly I felt at peace, as if everything in the world was going to be all right.

A third surprising moment happened as I was doing some dreaded chores around the house.  I become more interested church organ music since I witnessed the construction of a pipe organ at the church I served years ago.  Sometimes I look up organ music on YouTube and play it in the background while I do other things.  As the chores loomed, I got the idea of bringing up some of those links.  I enjoyed the music so much, I was actually a little sad when my chores were done!

I can’t write up these experiences in a “recipe,” as in do X, Y, and Z and you’ll automatically feel cared for.  But I can suggest a few things for this holiday season:

  • Smells and tastes are often powerfully associated with memory.  If you smell or taste something good, sit with that physical sensation a while.  Fond memories may come back to you.  If those fond memories are bittersweet due to this pandemic, it’s okay to feel both the bitter and the sweet.  Acknowledging those feelings is part of caring for yourself.
  • I think there’s a reason traditional church is music is different from popular music.  Traditional church music is not meant to entertain – it’s meant to take you to God’s temple, built within your own heart.  Try listening to some quality Christmas church music online or on the classical music station.
  • Taking a walk is a time-honored self-care practice, and you can’t ask for anything better in 2020.

Get some good vitamin C, get some fresh air, and take care of yourself.  You’re made in the image of God.  – KH