Balancing Care and Self-Care: A Caregiver's Guide to Holiday Wellness

Balancing Care and Self-Care: A Caregiver's Guide to Holiday Wellness

By: Celenise Mahmood, NASM-CWC, Co-Founder of Moodwell

As the holiday season approaches, while it is a time for great joy and festivities it also is a very high stress time especially for caregivers. While most folks are are caught in their own personal whirlwind of gift shopping and attending events, little know the struggle of caregivers keeping up with mainstream demands while diligently caring for their loved ones. There was a time that my husband not-so-affectionately referred to me as the Grinch. In my defense, it was a time when I was still very early on in my wellness journey. I wasn't aware that with small changes I could improve my wellbeing and cope with stress without burning out. 

Christmas 2012 was perhaps one of the most bittersweet for me. My close family and I said our final goodbyes to my dad after his long struggle with lung disease a week before Christmas. It was also my first Christmas as a mom. I barely made it through the Christmas festivities. The morning after Christmas I eagerly started putting away the Christmas decorations, my husband jumped out of bed in shock. According to him when he confronted me on the matter, I said my heart was two sizes to small. While the exact interaction is debatable he was not wrong about the condition of my heart. I was an emotional ticking time bomb. I was stressed from navigating life as a new working mom and learning to live without my dad. As the years went on I did my best to push through the anniversary of my dad's passing. Emotionally exhausted from spreading myself thin to create special moments for my family during the holidays. My disdain for Christmas was never really about not wanting to enjoy the holiday with my loved ones but rather from not allowing myself to process my emotions or taking the time for self care. 

As someone who has experienced life changing stressful situations during the holidays I completely understand the emotions involved. Too often I found myself at the bottom of multiple wine bottles or riding the train drunk at 11p on a Tuesday to avoid events. I was checked out to numb the pain while my children were growing up under my nose. I was ignoring the effects of the stress on my marriage, life and overall wellbeing.  The excess stress and drinking had led to gastrointestinal issues. I was suffering from intestinal inflammation. 

Up until 2019, Christmas was an endless blur of decorating, hosting, gift shopping, spending off of an empty bank and pouring from a drained empathy tank. Like the collective world, 2020 was the year that we resorted to our inner nest. It was the first time where there was no mainstream expectation of Christmas. I had the freedom to learn about my wellness and deal with stress in ways that would not have a negative impact on my health.  

Studies have shown that stress weakens your immune system, causes fatigue, pain, and anxiety. Stress is an unavoidable part of life that is at an altered state during the holidays. Thankfully, there are resources, tools, and support to guide you through. These are my pro-tips on avoiding stress and burnout during the holidays.

Stay active: While running errands, decorating, and caring for your loved one is already physically intensive studies prove that 150 minutes of light to moderate exercise keeps your heart healthy. Finding motivation to workout is hard in general for most. Almost no one would willingly want to start an exercise routine during the holidays. Exercise doesn't always have to be about lifting weights or running at the park. It can be as fun or as simple as having a solo dance party to your favorite Christmas tunes for 20 minutes a day. Holiday themed guided workouts are another great option. I enjoy the holiday themed workouts on the Pelton app.

For an all natural non-intoxicating uplifting effect try Moodwell Hustle Agave and Adaptogen tea. The peppermint and citrus sativa combination of botanical terpenes (terpenes are the therapeutic property found in every plant) will help you feel instantly motivated to get that workout in. Moodwell's Hustle Tea is also great for when you need a moment to pause for yourself. 

Get enough sleep: Beware of motivational surges. Sometimes we get caught up checking off tasks from the to do that we feel extra pumped, this may have you wanting to pull an all night-er to get some extra gift wrapping done. On days you are feeling extra motivated, do not over extend yourself. This can have negative physical and mental effects. Rather take that time to be grateful for the extra motivation and be respectful to your body by getting at least 7 hours of sleep. Having a bed time routine is an important piece in your overall wellness. Try cutting off screentime 20 minutes before bed.

Moodwell's Rest and Restore Agave and Adaptogen tea for a non-intoxicating calming effect will set the stage for a restful sleep. Chamomile and lavender indica combination of botanical terpenes will instantly help you feel relief. 

Don't skip meals and stay hydrated: A typical issue most of my clients have is that they skip meals or don't drink any water during the day. At nauseum we all have heard the detrimental effects this can have on our health and wellbeing yet we all can be guilty of it. A really helpful way to keep track of meals and water intake is by using an intake app such Noom. The persistent notifications at meal time will definitely remind you to take those few minutes to rest and refuel your body.

Starting the day with fresh squeezed lemon and ginger in 8 oz of room temperature water has excellent effects on keeping your gut clear and supporting your gut microbiome. 

Self-care is not selfish, during the holidays it is a necessity: Self care is taking time to check in with yourself and to literally take care of yourself. This is unique to everyone according on their lifestyle and what they enjoy. Working on a holiday or winter themed puzzle is a great way to get some brain exercise while relaxing your body. Coloring a Christmas themed coloring page or making an ornament can be a fun activity. Taking a nice long bath or shower using peppermint and eucalyptus. Enjoy a calming mocktail made with non-intoxication Moodwell Terpene Agave. 

Caregiving during the holidays can be extremely stressful. Between holiday shopping, festivities, and hosting it can be easy to ignore your wellbeing. I hope these tips can help you prioritize your wellness this holiday. Would you use these tips this holiday season? What wellness tips have you used that work for you? Let me know in the comments.


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