Give yourself the gift of self-care

By: Susie Ippolito

Self care is a practice and should be as grand or as simple as your life allows for. The simple pleasure of a cup of tea, or twenty minutes of reading for pleasure, or taking time to savor the stunning Syracuse sunset are all valuable ways to replenish your energy reserves.

And this is all well and good — until the holidays hit and we’re running at top speed for the better part of the month of December. Budgets bust, causing stress and anxiety, parties pop up, adding to our already busy schedules. And, let’s not forget it is cold and flu season! Happy holidays to us!

In preparation for the holiday season, I  spoke to three local experts in the fields of finance, coaching and wellness to weigh in on how we can practice self care this holiday season.

Step One – Notice Your Energy

Dianne Rizzo, ACC, CLC, ICF certified coach of ONE LIFE Coaching Services, suggests “choosing one area that you notice is depleted and commit to a small step to intentionally refuel.” She also reminds us to, “make sure that small step is reasonable, realistic, and respectful of you and your current situation.”

Diane is a believer in building resilience by gaining awareness around our energy levels: “there’s physical, emotional, cognitive/mental, and spiritual energy,” she said. “Intentionally refueling is what we commonly call self care.” Diane suggests looking at your energy reserves and notice where you feel depleted. Then ask yourself a few questions to gain awareness around the basics. Are you sleeping well? Are you drinking enough water? How is your nutrition?

After you assess the basics, Diane points out the importance of a connection to our breath, “to consciously pause and breathe activates the parasympathetic nervous system.” This allows us to regain control of our thoughts and reactions in stressful situations.

Step Two – Pay Attention to Your Money

Anna Hartwell, director of corporate training and financial advisor AT Excelsior Wealth Partners, teaches her clients “how to have peace of mind though clarity and control of their money.” Managing finances during the holidays can be especially stressful and can distract us from our self care rituals. Anna suggests making a budget. “I know the word ‘budget’ sounds like a restrictive chore but a realistic budget can help you shop with intention.”

Anna’s advice is to create a budget for each person on your list, and be sure to include the little things that often blow the budget like wrapping paper, cards, and hostess gifts. If this number exceeds your resources, review your list and see where you can cut back and replace a frantic hunt for things with the simple pleasure of thoughtfulness. Anna points out that “we often forget the little trinket we received, but we rarely forget the heartfelt note or the feeling of connecting with someone over a shared experience.”

Anna also discourages comparison.

“We put entirely too much pressure on ourselves trying to uphold a standard that so few people care about,” she said.

Securities and investment advisory services offered through SagePoint Financial, Inc. (SPF), member FINRA/SIPC. SPF is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of SPF. 

Step Three – Pay Attention to Yourself

Gina Insalaco, owner of Saunacuse Infrared Sauna Studio, notices that when her clients come in stressed and depleted, it is usually because “we tend to lose sight of when to back off and take some time to rest. As a result, we find ourselves getting sick or super grumpy from fatigue, which causes us to be short tempered and easily irritable.” Sounds like a recipe for a miserable holiday season. And when we add in the cold weather and lack of sunshine, Seasonal Affective Disorder easily takes over our vulnerable minds. This is why, Gina informs us, “self care is one of the most selfless things we can do.”

While many think of Infrared Sauna therapy to treat physical needs such as pain management, skin rejuvenation, detoxifying and boosting the immune system, Gina said it’s an all-encompassing therapy with “many effects that can be positive influences on your mental, spiritual, and emotional health.”

Each sauna includes a tablet with meditation and music apps, and you can even cue up your favorite Netflix show to personalize the experience and optimize your relaxation.

“Whichever way you chose to enjoy your session, your body is hard at work burning extra calories, detoxing, increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation,” Gina said.

In addition to those wonderful physical benefits, Infrared sauna also works to increase our serotonin levels, which Gina refers to as “the happiness chemical in your brain. Infrared wavelengths are natural, and create a bodily response similar to the sun’s rays.” Gina is careful to point out that Saunacuse saunas are UV free so they combat symptoms of SAD without the harmful risks of sun damage.

Step Four – Keep it Real

  • Don’t brush off self care because you can’t afford a monthly trip to a fancy spa. Small, simple rituals are affordable and easy to work into our routine. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Cut your nightly TV time by 15 minutes and, instead, enjoy the ritual of going to bed. Fluff your pillows, turn down the sheets, light a scented candle, dim the lights and just breathe and enjoy your most personal space.
  • Stretch every single day, morning and night. It truly is as essential to our well being as brushing our teeth. Incorporate your breath to connect to the body and relax the mind.
  • Make yourself a priority for 15 minutes every day. Check in with yourself and make sure you’re drinking more water than coffee, that you laugh every day, that you’re making efforts to achieve your goals. Be proud of yourself when you are and easy on yourself when you’re not.
  • Get together with your girlfriends — even, and especially, the ones you haven’t spoken to in a while. They’re the ones who love you and know you best. Commiserate and relate, motivate and inspire each other. Then go out and spread those positive vibes to every woman you see.

Happy Holidays, Syracuse!