The holidays can be a joyful time filled with memories, quality time with family and friends and delicious food. But due to the pandemic, this has been a challenging year for many people and the holidays might look different this season.
Social distancing measures and concern for the health and safety of loved ones can add more stress to an already busy time of year.
As you prepare for the holidays and new year, fight the urge to tackle long to-do lists. Instead, take time to recharge and get the rest you need so you have energy to do the activities you enjoy.
Recharge is one of eight focal points on the Circle of Health and is a valuable part of self-care. When we think about our health, we often focus on things we should do but intentionally deciding not to do “something” is also important.
Slowing down and taking time to pause and unwind are positive ways to live Whole Health. Here are five resources to help you recharge:
1) Sleep longer and better
There are many things that can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. Like many other Veterans, you may be juggling working from home, taking care of loved ones and finding time to focus on your health. These changes can add stress or worry that didn’t exist before the pandemic.
Making minor adjustments to your daily routine can make a big difference in your ability to sleep well. Explore this list of small changes you can make to sleep longer and better.
2) Press pause and take a break
No matter how you spend your time, it is important to pause every so often. Pausing in a healthy way can help you handle life’s challenges with greater skill and prevent the urge to live life on autopilot. Pausing also makes room for inspiration and new opportunities.
A key to living Whole Health is finding a healthy balance between activity and inactivity. Learn how pausing and taking breaks can improve your health.
Practice showing your gratitude.
3) Create a gratitude practice
It may sound small, but just a little gratitude a day goes a long way. Practicing gratitude can improve your mood by decreasing your chances of having depression, anxiety and substance use disorders. People who are grateful feel happiness, pride and hope. They also feel more connected to others.
To experience the health benefits of gratitude, it is important to have a routine in place. Not sure how to get started? Here’s some ideas of gratitude practices you can try.
Relaxing and recharging can be accomplished in many ways and is often different for each person. Find what works best for you and try to make some time every day to restore yourself. This practice will help your body repair itself as well as boost your immune system, mood and overall well-being.
4) Take a (virtual) Whole Health class
No matter where you are on your health journey, there are many virtual Whole Health classes and resources available for you to safely connect and recharge. Give yourself a 14-minute break from your routine with this Tai chi video featuring Memphis VA Clinical Psychologist, Cynthia Mealer. Light movement through Tai chi or Qigong can benefit your body and mind by slowing you down and allowing you to connect your breath and body.
This technique ultimately helps you find balance, relieve stress and rest better. For additional, short self-care activities, click here.
5) Download the Live Whole Health app
VA’s Live Whole Health app is a free and easy to use mobile application created to help you take the next step in your Whole Health journey. Get started by setting manageable action steps. Use the Check-in feature to stay on target, get virtual coaching, make notes of techniques that work for you and share achievements with family and friends.
Take the first step to recharge this holiday season and visit the VA App Store to download the Live Whole Health app.
For more information on Recharge, visit this link.
Andrew Ruben is a communication specialist for the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. He works with Malaika Karriem, whose writing supports VA’s Whole Health approach.