The Vital Recipe for Minimizing Adult Meltdowns
This holiday season, the Vital Links team is taking a moment to reflect on our favorite strategies for rest, relaxation, and refueling. We recognize that during this wonderful time of celebration, there are also repeated demands placed upon our personal resources—specifically, our time and energy. As caregivers, therapists, parents, spouses, and friends we often focus our energy on giving to others. This holiday season we want to give back to you. To prevent burnout, unnecessary frustration, and let’s face it, an adult meltdown, we wanted to share with you our top-five favorite revitalizing self-care strategies.
1.Invite movement into your week
See how many different ways you can incorporate movement into your week. Maybe sign-up for that new workout class you have been interested in trying. Or if you already have a favorite workout routine, plan your workout schedule a week in advance. On Sunday nights, mark your calendar for the days and times you plan on attending a workout class, going for a run, or meeting a friend for yoga. By scheduling in advance, it makes it easier to arrange the rest of your week around the time you have dedicated to yourself. Although I admit getting up at 5:15am for a workout is a challenge this time of year, I always feel better afterwards.
If starting a new workout routine is not possible, maybe try going for a walk with a co-worker on a lunch break or extended your normal evening dog walking session by an extra 5 minutes. Both you and your dog will appreciate it.
If you are reading this and thinking, “Are you kidding me? I don’t have a minute to spare during my day,” trust me, I understand. In that case, try keeping a PowerUp ball at your desk or have one available to use in-between clients. Take a moment to explore different movements over the ball on your back, side, and stomach, getting your head out of the upright, and giving your body weight into gravity. Even just this simple movement opportunity can provide an added wake-up and feeling of letting go during a busy work day.
2.Encourage opportunities for social interaction in your everyday occupations
Often our necessary work, household, and family occupations like cooking, laundry, or driving kids to-and-from activities occupies much of our time and energy. Imagine if those daily occupations involved a friend and a little social engagement?
What if tonight as an alternative to cooking dinner by yourself, you included your family in the meal preparation or invited a couple friends over to join you? You can also use this time to connect with those you love about their daily life events. In our house, we all share our “cherries and pits” of the day at our evening meal. Each person shares three cherries (the good events of the day) and one pit (the not so good event). This simple sharing strategy creates a fun and inviting way for each person to talk about their day. As a parent, I always look forward to hearing what my children select as their cherries and pits.
Maybe tonight sneak in a few extra minutes with your kids by breaking all the rules and read that one extra bedtime story they always ask for. Be careful not to be persuaded into two extra stories though.
3. Discover your own unique hobby
Invite moments of true leisure into your week by engaging in your own unique hobby, such as photography, dancing, drawing, or sewing. I appreciate that it may not be realistic to incorporate this hobby on a daily basis or even a weekly basis. However, try to challenge yourself to engage in a new or familiar hobby at least once or twice in the next month. If your hobby is cooking, maybe one weekend afternoon you spend an hour looking through new recipes to try out the following week.
If you enjoy knitting, try encouraging yourself to make time for this activity by picking out a new pattern and a few new colors of yarn. With new inspiration, you might feel motivated to dedicate some time in your schedule.
For those of us who might be thinking “Hobby? What hobby?” try something new with the help of a little outside support. Invite a couple of friends to join you in a community crafting class or painting night at your local art studio. You may discover a new talent. If nothing else, hopefully you enjoy a little time off and a few well-deserved laughs with friends.
4. Take a moment for yourself
If nothing else, try to commit five or ten minutes a day that is just for you. There is no wrong or right way to fill these couple of minutes, as long as it is something that fills you with joy. If your typical morning routine consists of drinking lukewarm coffee because you are trying to do ten other things to usher your family out the door, instead take five quiet minutes to sit down on the sofa before anyone else is awake to drink a few sips of piping hot coffee. Then tackle the morning routine!
Maybe you have been trying to get in the habit of starting a new book before bed, but never seem to have the time to attempt this new reading adventure as your eyes start to close as soon as your head hits the pillow. In that case, maybe start with five minutes of reading a favorite magazine, uplifting poems, or journaling just before bed to take your mind off the day’s events. This will help get you in the habit of reading before bed but feels a little more manageable than starting that new novel, which is now gathering dust on your bedside table.
On your next drive home from work, try turning on your favorite music and singing along. Let the workplace stress magically fade away on your drive home. I promise no one will hear you; unless you carpool with your co-worker.
5. Remembering that it is ok to say “No”
Sometimes the best thing we can do to balance an already full work and personal schedule is remember that it is ok to say “no” or “not today” sometimes. This time of year, especially, we feel an added pressure (sometimes external and sometimes internal) to attend the holiday parties, go shopping, and bake cookies with your children, all while doing the multitude of tasks required in a typical day. By prioritizing your commitments, it provides you with the time and space to dedicate yourself to what is most important at that moment in time. I must remind myself that sometimes saying “no” to one activity/person/event allows me to actively say “yes” to another.
Just like in treatment, there is no ideal combination of self-care strategies that will work for everyone. The important piece is to consider what YOU need this holiday season to keep you from approaching meltdown status. Remember, the holidays are not a sprint, but rather a marathon. If you are feeling more stressed and out-of-balance one day, try to create more space for your unique self-care strategies the next. During this time of giving, don’t forget to give something back to yourself. Everybody on your list will appreciate it. Happy Holidays.