CARES Team Newsletter
Families, December, 2021
CARES Program Update
During this quarter, the CARES Team has been supporting students at all schools through classroom lessons and individually. Topics have included personal safety, empathy, coping strategies, and academic planning. Students are preparing for final exams in the upper grades and everyone is getting excited for winter break and the holidays.
Often times, though, this means increased stress too. Below are several ideas for families celebrating and also managing the associated stress of the holidays. Take care, find joy, and be healthy!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Shelli and the CARES Team
20 Tips for Holiday Self-Care
How to Bring Your Best Self to the Holidays
The holiday season.
It’s called “the most wonderful time of the year”.
But between buying gifts, hosting parties, trying not to break your healthy habits (or the bank), and attending family gatherings, it can also be the most stressful time of the year.
That’s why it’s super important to make time for self-care and self-love during the holidays.
We want to help you feel your best this holiday season. So we’re sharing 20 self-care tips to reduce stress and help you get the most comfort and joy out of your holidays.
20 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress With Self-Care
- Let It Out. The holidays can bring up a lot of emotions, baggage, and discomfort. Maybe you’re stressed about money. Maybe you’re missing a departed loved one. Maybe you’re dreading spending time with difficult family members. The worst thing you can do is keep everything in, so talk to someone—a counselor, clergy, a friend, or someone you trust to provide you with a safe space to vent and be your sounding board.
- Make Healthy Choices (Most of the Time). If you want the Christmas cookie, by all means have the Christmas cookie! We don’t believe in a life of constant restriction, and the holidays are a time to make small allowances and treat yourself. Just watch your portion sizes and make sure to jump back on the healthy bandwagon the next day. As a rule of thumb, try to make healthy choices the majority of the time. And remember, too much sugar, salt, fat, etc. can impact your motivation, mood and energy—another great reason to indulge in moderation.
- Carve Out Time for Self-Care. We can’t overstate the importance of self-care during the holidays. But I’ve got too much to do, you may be thinking. How am I supposed to make time for self-care? Our answer: when you are crazy busy is when you need self-care most. So make sure to schedule time for you this holiday season. Even ten minutes can positively impact your mental health, and it’s enough time to get outside for a breath of fresh air, a quick meditation, fit in a quick workout, or chat with a loved one to help you reset.
- Meditate. Mindfulness practice is a fantastic tool for helping you stay focused on the present and self-aware. There are tons of apps out there that offer short, guided meditations on a range of subjects to help you center yourself and keep calm through the holiday hustle and bustle.
- Recite Affirmations. Affirmations are another great way to center yourself, and align with your intention for how you want to feel and show up for yourself and others during the holiday season. Try reciting and/or writing the following affirmation over and over when you need a reset: “I breathe in calmness and positivity”. Or pick some other positive statement that aligns with your desired state.
- Be Active. Fitting in some movement can help you relieve stress and anxiety, boost energy, work off those yummy holiday treats, and just feel better all around. So try to fit in physical activity where you can. It doesn’t have to be super-intense or take a ton of time. Even five-minute walks around the block and taking the stairs instead of the elevator add up and can help increase your overall stamina.
- Say No. It’s easy to stretch ourselves too thin over the holidays by saying yes to all the things. While we encourage you to say yes to the things that are most important to you, we also want to remind you to be kind to yourself, guard your time, and to politely decline anything that drains you or feels stressful.
- Get Enough Sleep. It may be tempting to clock some late nights shopping, wrapping gifts, celebrating, and cooking/baking, but adequate sleep is critical for us to feel our best in mind, body, and spirit and help keep our immune system strong, because no one likes to get sick. Aim to catch between seven and eight hours of zzz’s a night.
- Stay Hydrated. We tend to underestimate the importance of adequate water intake and forget to hydrate altogether when we’re busy, but dehydration can often take a toll on the body and make you feel downright crummy. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces a day and keep a reusable water bottle on you at all times so you’re never left high and dry. Water helps boost energy and flushes toxins from your system, among other things.
- Take Your Vitamins. A lot of people tend to get sick around the holidays because they’re stressed, overcommitted, and they’re not eating well or sleeping enough. Taking vitamins can help give your immune system an extra boost when it needs it most.
- Limit Alcohol. It’s tempting to indulge in all the holiday cocktails, but as we know, alcohol can impair thinking, cause mood swings, raise blood pressure, lead to poor social judgment, lower inhibitions, decrease concentration, and lots more. Sure, you can enjoy a cocktail, but we suggest sticking to lower calorie drinks, like vodka, and adding sparkling water and some lemon or lime for flavor, instead of opting for sweet, high-calorie alcoholic drinks. You can also follow the one-to-one rule—for every alcoholic drink you have, follow it with a glass of water. And during the last hour or so of a party, switch to water completely. Your head will thank you in the morning!
- Take Action. Procrastination can be a major source of stress and anxiety, so do yourself a favor and resolve to get as prepared and organized for the holidays as possible. Decorate early. Aim to complete your holiday shopping in early December and do as much of it as you can online away from the crowds. Plan your holiday meals and purchase as many nonperishable ingredients as you can in advance. Set a deadline on your phone calendar for when you’ll send holiday cards out. Do whatever you can to avoid the last-minute madness. Here’s a holiday planning checklist with lots of great ideas for streamlining your to-dos and keeping organized.
- Breath…and Smile. If the length of your to-do list or other worries are bringing you down, try two things:
Take some slow, deep breaths in and out. Studies have shown that this simple act can increase positivity, decrease emotional reactivity, improve brain health, and promote feelings of calmness.
Smile (even if you don’t feel like it). There’s something to be said for faking it ‘til you make it. If you’re feeling the opposite of happy, try grinning from ear to ear. Just the act of smiling can uplift you and snap you out of a funk.
- Pamper Yourself. The holidays are a great excuse to treat yourself to a little pampering. Get a new ‘do, go for a relaxing massage, give yourself a manicure, or do something else for you.
- Be Intentional. Ask yourself what’s most important to you during the holidays. What do you want to do? Who do you want to spend time with? How do you want to feel? Being clear on your priorities will help you stay focused on what matters most so you can have the most meaningful holiday experience.
- Make a Budget and Respect It. We all want to be generous with our loved ones, but holiday shopping shouldn’t jeopardize our financial health. A recent survey reported that a large percentage of the population is going into debt to deliver holiday cheer and this can be seriously damaging. So be realistic about what you can afford to spend on your loved ones, set yourself a budget, and stick to it. And remember: thoughtfulness doesn’t have a value. Consider starting a Yankee swap with family members, trade materialistic gifts for experiences, make handmade gifts, or donate time or money to a charity you admire.
- Ask for Support. If you’ve got too much on your plate or you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is speak up and ask for help. People want to help, so reach out and be clear about what kind of support you need most.
- Take a Break From Social. The holidays can be stressful enough without falling prey to the comparison game, which social media tends to fuel. So do yourself a favor and give yourself a break from social media as often as you can. We suggest adjusting your phone settings to limit your screen time, instituting social media-free weekends, leaving your phone out of your bedroom at night, and vowing to keep it out of sight during holiday activities that deserve your focused attention.
- Make a Holiday Gratitude List. Instead of getting carried away by all the things you need to do, spend some time acknowledging, celebrating, and expressing gratitude for all you have to be grateful for this holiday season. Every night, do a brain dump onto a piece of paper of everything big and small you have to be grateful for. Gratitude has been shown to improve physical and mental health, sleep, self-esteem, increase mental strength, and lots more.
- Ditch the Perfection Mentality. We all want the holidays to be memorable and meaningful, but if you’re striving for perfect, you’re setting yourself up for a lot of stress and disappointment. Perfection doesn’t exist and chasing it will only make you crazy. Let go of having the “perfect” holiday and be okay with having an authentic, “good enough” one. We guarantee you’ll end up enjoying yourself a lot more.
Teens and Holiday Stress
Keep Them Moving!
Digital Safety Tips
Where to Get Help...
Where To Get Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step.
Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/county mental health authority for more resources.
Contact the NAMI HelpLine to find out what services and supports are available in your community.
Local Community Mental Health Providers
LifeSpring: (812) 265-4513
Centerstone: (812) 265-1918
If you or someone you know needs helps now, you should immediately call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or call 911.
Who are the CARES Team?
Deputy: Dosha Harrell
Lydia Middleton: Amy Hoskins
Rykers Ridge: Nichole Lohrig
Shelli Reetz, Director of Student Services