6 Little Ways to Practice Self-Care This Season

6 Little Ways to Practice Self-Care This Season

If the hustle and bustle of back-to-school didn’t seem busy enough, don’t worry—the holidays are on our heels and soon we’ll be wrapped in a swirl of unending to-do’s, blinded by a blur of shopping lists, gift tags, recipes, and reminders. 

Each season brings its own flavor of must-do’s, and with all this choreographic chaos in mind, it’s important to remember to set aside time for self-care. Because if you don’t schedule it in, it won’t happen! 

“The ‘all work and no play’ mantra has been around for decades because it holds water,” says John Illingworth, LCSW, integrated health supervisor at St. Luke’s University Health Network. “Nobody can be on the clock at work or at home completing tasks and responsibilities without recreation or relaxation. Most tasks can wait; they are not going anywhere.”

Illingworth works with licensed clinical social workers to offer expedited access to primary care patients. Remembering to take time to care for yourself is a vital part of life, and Illingworth recommends a number of tips to be happy, healthy, and as stress-free as possible:

“Exercise is huge during winter months, given many people’s tendency to avoid outside activities due to colder temperatures and shorter days,” Illingworth says. “Physical activity is important to manage any seasonal affective issues.” Something like warm or hot yoga might be enticing this time of year. Or you could try one of the indoor group fitness classes on page 23!

“People tend to avoid the cold, but bundling up, getting outside, and being exposed to the light with a short, leisurely walk can help buoy a person’s mood,” says Illingworth. “For people who are more housebound, they can arrange furniture in such a way that they’re close to a window or natural light source.”

Look into breathing exercises and mindfulness activities to give yourself a break from the chaos. When you feel stress, anxiety, or panic setting in, that’s a cue to take a deep breath. Set aside time for scheduled relaxation, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day. “More and more people can access meditation and yoga apps online and find this effective,” Illingworth says. “You can access these apps regardless of weather.” (Apps to try: Calm or Headspace)

When you’re elbow-deep in household chores, turn on your favorite tunes to carry you through. Music can be a great pick-me-up and it’s often only a swipe or tap away. “Any creative outlets including art and music are effective at any time of year in managing stress and mood issues,” Illingworth says.

“Much of holiday stress is self-induced. It is important that people set realistic expectations for themselves and realize that they don’t have to go shopping for every gift their kid wants, they don’t have to attend every holiday party, and that it is ok to focus on spending the holidays at home,” says Illingworth. “You can even choose to set up gatherings with extended family and friends for after the holidays. We get hung up on dates and traditions, but time with people close to us is what is most important.”

What works in calming and rejuvenating one person may not produce the same results for another—so experimentation is key. Consider writing in a gratitude journal, enjoying a hot bath with essential oils, getting a pedicure, or even buying an adult coloring book. Break out of the daily routine to find what works to make you feel relaxed or truly alive. 

“People underestimate committing 15-20 minutes daily to exercise, relaxation strategies, hobbies, and interests,” Illingworth says. “All of these things are important to offset the stress of work and parenting. It can be done early in the morning before others are up, or at night when others are in bed.”

Behavioral Health Services at St. Luke’s Primary Care Centers

It’s no secret that mental health issues in our country are on the rise and often go untreated. With as many as one in five adults suffering from mental distress, it’s alarming that not even half of those cases (44 percent) receive the treatment they need. Even more troubling is that less than 20 percent of mentally ailing children and adolescents get help.

Behavioral and emotional therapy are available at several St. Luke’s family practices in our area. Doctors recognized that patients would be most comfortable in an environment that’s already familiar to them. Depression and anxiety remain common complaints among adults, but other issues drive patients to their doctors as well, including grief and bereavement, anger management, ADHD, work/life balance concerns, postpartum depression, and panic attacks. Interested patients can schedule a visit with a behavioral specialist through their primary care physician.

BH Therapy Locations:

  • ABW St. Luke’s Pediatric Associates
  • Baby and Me Support Center
  • St. Luke’s Broadheadsville Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s Bub & Associates Family Medical Center
  • St. Luke’s Coventry Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s Family Medicine Nazareth
  • St. Luke’s Family Practice, Palmer
  • St. Luke’s Internal Medicine, Stroudsburg
  • St. Luke’s Internal Medicine, Bartonsville
  • St. Luke’s Macungie Medical Group
  • St. Luke’s Medical Associates of Bethlehem
  • St. Luke’s Medical Associates of Monroe County
  • St. Luke’s Monroe Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s Nazareth Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s North Hunterdon Physicians Associates
  • St. Luke’s Pennsburg Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s Saucon Valley Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s South Mountain Family Practice
  • St. Luke’s Village Medical Center
  • St. Luke’s Family Practice at Palmer-Forks location
  • St. Luke’s William Penn Family Practice Center
  • St. Luke’s Internal Medicine, Bethlehem
  • Timothy Scharle, MD, St. Luke’s Internal Medicine

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