Through the holidays, it can be stressful in many ways for our clients, especially those who have experienced trauma in their lives. It’s important to take time and review with clients how they are taking care of themselves over the holidays. When small things are done on a regular basis, it can help lift one’s mood and shift feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Exercise: Find out if your client is exercising. What do they enjoy and makes them feel good? If they aren’t moving, which is common with depression, get them to walk, even if it’s 10 minutes a day. Increase the time slowly. Positive chemicals are released when one exercises – so get your clients moving today!
- Nutrition: It is easy over the holidays to forget about nutrition and go for the high sugar and fats. It tastes great and also feels good in the moment. Many clients indulge in more alcohol, too. Remind clients to be mindful of what they are eating. Food does effect mood in a direct way – so don’t forget to ask and help sort out what are healthy choices along the way.
- Drink water: It is easy to not drink enough water. Water is essential in our body – we are made up of over 90% water. The nervous system needs hydration in order to function at top speed. So have water in your office for clients to drink and remind them – hydrate!
- Make a contribution to your community: When clients are struggling to find meaning in their lives, help them find a way to make a difference in their community. People who help others tend to feel better by giving and find more meaning in their lives. What can you do to make someone’s life better over the holidays? Make someone a meal, read a child a book, spend time with someone who is elderly and have them share stories with you… any little gesture can have huge effects for everyone!
- Gratitude: Along with making a contribution to their community, have clients start a gratitude journal. What are they grateful for everyday. It doesn’t have to big things, it can be simple, and yet change how one feels. It might be as simple as: the sun was shining, I opened the door for a stranger, I picked up trash that wasn’t in the trash can, I smiled at someone for no reason, I donated some old books to a charity….the list is endless, so start feeling the gratitude today.
Remember, as a therapist you can help your client with these 5 things and support your client by using last weeks technique to increase the feeling of positive state by making a mental movie of the client actually doing any of the above suggestions. As you help your client develop these pieces into their lives, they will start to feel better and better. Help spread the joy this holiday season by helping your clients with their self care plan.
Image Source: “Done With The Mouse, Time To Relax” – by Andrew Schmidt (CC0)