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Top 10 Sacred Self-Care Tips for the Holiday Season 2023 Edition

Mental Health | 1 comment

Happy December!

Is it really… a happy December? For some of you, that’s true and for some, not so much. So how can you move through this holiday season if you’re grieving lost loved ones, or you’re trying to protect yourself and your family from infectious disease? If you are isolated, depressed, have chronic pain or illness, or you’re struggling financially, and especially if you are ᑕ0ᐻiᗞ-conscious, here are my top 10 sacred self-care tips just for you.

I also want to acknowledge that for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, your sunlight exposure has probably gone down drastically. I know it has here, because my solar powered keyboard needs way more frequent recharging and for much longer than other times of the year. Well, we’re kind of solar-powered too! Less natural light affects us all, as does the colder weather.

Since the holiday season can be painful for me due to a lot of grief, I wanted to share with you some tips on how to get through the holiday season for those of us who aren’t exactly looking forward to the holidays:

1. Breathe into your belly.

It takes you out of what I call “Anxiety-Land,” where all your laundry lists of things you have to get done live, along with all that internalized self-doubt, fear and the results of years of global gaslighting. Breathing into your belly helps you to access the truth you want to speak in a conversation too. Breathe as slowly and deeply as your body will allow. Go easy if you have lung damage or breathing issues. Feel your breath moving in, through and out of you for at least a few breaths.

2. Play your favourite music.

I don’t care what kind of music it is, uplifting, hard core heavy metal, 80’s music (my favourite), pow wow music, holiday music, whatever it is… PLAY IT A LOT for your own health and well-being. When you play your favourite music, your body will respond. You might find yourself moving a little to the beat. tapping a foot, humming or singing along, dancing, or you’ll just notice you’re sitting up a bit straighter. Music is big medicine and can shift your mood quickly and even rewire your brain via rhythm, rhyme and repetition.

3. Schedule downtime, me time and playtime into your calendar.

Downtime, me time and playtime might all be the same for you but I know for me, I need downtime where I allow myself to just do nothing and be by myself. Sometimes “me time” is the same, but sometimes my me time includes playtime, a massage, or something more active than my downtime. Playtime could be by yourself, with your pets, or with other people. If you’re not playing, please start – and it doesn’t have to be in person if that is not safe or possible for you. Honestly, part of my playtime is attending ᑕ0ᐻiᗞ-19 Resources Canada’s weekly virtual meetings. It keeps me up to date on infectious diseases and mitigations but also, I am on their team and I’ve never been part of a group of such supportive, compassionate people who want to do good in the world. What might your playtime look like?

4. You did read that I said SCHEDULE your downtime, me time and playtime, right?

I keep a very flexible calendar because I have Long ᑕ0ᐻiᗞ and chronic pain from losing my son. You can schedule your downtime, me time and playtime to suit your needs even if your needs change from time to time. Keeping a routine and calendar will help you develop and maintain good habits and give you some accountability to yourself. You can’t give from an empty vessel. Plus, if you schedule yourself into your calendar and not just your work tasks or appointments, your self-love meter jumps up, and it’s easier to create boundaries when you get those added holiday responsibilities thrown your way. You don’t have to say yes when you feel like saying no, or when saying no is important for your health and safety. Or you might say yes with certain boundaries in place. If you need to play with your schedule and move things around, do it with honouring yourself in mind.

5. Set your intentions.

What do you want out of a visit or a shopping experience? Will it be in person or virtual? Once I set my intentions, my shopping experience becomes pleasant instead of being a nightmare of lineups and infected people breathing all over me. Even in fhe Before Times, I used to set my intentions before any outings to create better outcomes for myself. For example, one year I had to do my holiday shopping at the last minute the day before Christmas Eve. I visualized an empty store with every thing I need easily accessible to me and not much time spent inside. When I actually got to the store, it was exactly like that! Unbelievably, there were only a handful of shoppers in the store, I found everything I wanted at a great price, and I felt so relieved and was out of the store in less than an hour.

6. Set up your boundaries.

BEFORE YOU GO ANYWHERE, or even before you pick up the phone or do a Facetime or zoom meeting with friends or family, set up your boundaries. Let people know what is okay and what is not before you find yourself in a situation you wish you could get out of. You can use your imagination and intentions to set up an invisible force field to stave off boundary-breaking people and outside energies and emotions, which helps a lot if you are introverted, socially anxious, empathic, neurodivergent or highly sensitive (ask me how I know). If you have a plan for what is okay or not with you, then it becomes a lot easier to tell people and to not allow anyone to overstep your boundaries. You can also find out whether an event feels safe for you by asking questions in advance but if you don’t know what you will accept or not, then once you’re in the situation it’s a lot harder to make it work.

7. Listen to and honour your body.

If you have physical or emotional pain, chronic illness or trauma, take appropriate measures in order to get through it. If you need to take breaks or leave an event early or only show up virtually, work it into your plan and let people know in advance. I can only do about half as much in a day as I could before my Long ᑕ0ᐻiᗞ worsened. My body tells me when I need a break, and I’ve gotten pretty good at listening. Every now and then when something “has to get done,” or I let FOMO get in the way, I can go back into a pattern of overstepping my body’s boundaries, which can lead to a lot of pain and fatigue, so I keep reminding myself to check in with my body. Check in, instead of checking out.

8. Get whatever support you need that is accessible to you.

You’ve heard me mention support more than once here and that is because as independent and stubborn as I am after years of being a single mother, I know that sometimes I need help. There is no shame in asking for help. If I were meant to do it all alone, none of you would exist – it would be just me on this planet all by myself. Remember that. We are all here because we all have our unique gifts and ways to help each other. What does support look like for you? It might mean making sure you have infectiours disease protocols covered before going to the doctor. Maybe it means delegating tasks to an assistant or family member, or hiring a mentor or going to a workshop. Maybe it means virtual mental health care or a support group. You deserve support. I know not everyone has equitable access to appropriate supports. If you don’t, please don’t give up. Ask for help to find affordable, accessible options.

9. Be resourceful.

There is ALWAYS a way through whatever you’re going through. Sometimes you might need to look in different places for it, ask for help, or pay attention in different ways to find it but there is always a way through as long as you remember to be resourceful. If you have no spoons (capacity) to do that, ask someone else to do it for you. Sometimes being resourceful just means being creative with how to do something or get it done. It doesn’t always mean we have to work hard at figuring things out.

10. Know what makes you smile.

I’m constantly telling my oracle reading and mentoring clients to do what lights them up because it is so super important! Doing what you love will energize and uplift you. If you love wrapping presents, offer to do it for someone else too. Sometimes what makes you smile isn’t about doing but more about being. Smelling sagebrush from where I grew up makes me smile. My cat jumping around playing makes me smile. If seeing your nieces or grandkids makes you smile, meet with them somehow, even if it’s virtually, or look at pictures and videos of them. Really savour the experience and feeling of what makes you smile. If you love baking, do that. If you cringe at the idea of going to that company holiday party, don’t go. Knowing what makes you smile means you get to feel better and create more enjoyable experiences for yourself.

Love & Blessings,

Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman



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1 Comment

  1. Debi

    Thank you so much for these ideas … and great ones they are. Going to use some of them this weekend when we take my granddaughter to see Santa at the store. And definitely going to put more of them into practice on a regular basis.


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About Brenda MacIntyre

About Brenda MacIntyre

Known by her indigenous name Medicine Song Woman, Brenda MacIntyre has shared her evocative melodic voice and fusion of reggae, rap and indigenous hand drum healing music with appreciative audiences of 30 to 3,000 across North America. The Toronto-based Juno Award-winning singer has been featured nationally on MuchMusic, CTV, CP24, APTN and most recently, Global and the front page of the Toronto Star.

Powered by her grief from losing her son to murder in 2016, Brenda MacIntyre pours her soulful voice over a confluence of indigenous hand drum healing, soft rap and conscious roots reggae in her album “Picking Up the Pieces,” released in September 2019.

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