By Dr. Stephanie Nishek, ND, CLEC

The holiday season has a way of sneaking up on us. It’s done it again this year. Hustle and bustle are already noticeable in the air, along with the familiar winter chill the season  brings to us in North Dakota. As we prepare for the “Season of Giving,” it is the perfect time to hunker down for a minute and think about self-care strategies. One may wonder, if ‘tis better to give than receive,’ wouldn’t self-care be considered receiving and be contradictory to the spirit of the season? I would implore you to shift that perspective by considering the adage, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  

If we seek to live generously, which is defined as showing a readiness to give more of something than is strictly necessary or expected, then taking care of the aspects of our lives that allow us to give freely quickly grows in importance. Here are three ways, both typical and unconventional, to keep your ‘cup’ from running dry:

  1. Buffer Your Stress. Sometimes we can change our external environment to be less stressful (changing jobs, for example). Other times we need to focus on buffering the effects of unavoidable stress on our physiology. The latter is where I usually focus when talking with patients. This is where we incorporate things such as regular exercise, deep breathing exercises, fostering positive social relationships,  spiritual practices, and strengthening our nutritional foundation. Certain herbs, appropriately called “adaptogens,” also have a calming/buffering effect; however, I don’t recommend that you  start with herbs/supplements. I find them very valuable, but without investing in necessary lifestyle changes, adding herbs is like throwing a glass of water on a house fire.  
  2. Respect Your Finances. Early in my career, I attended monthly networking meetings with members from many different professions. I distinctly remember one man who worked in finance. He used this same tagline every time he started and ended a speech or conversation: “Pay yourself first.” Many of the women I know are small business owners and I don’t think this message is as consistent in the small business world as it should be. Frankly, you can’t give from an empty pocket. Applying a self-care mentality to one’s savings account, your budget, and financial future may help us better recognize where spending must stop so that long-term generosity has room to grow.  
  3. Fill a Niche. There is no shortage of life-enriching opportunities around the holidays. Could your self-care practice also fill a needed gap in your community? Could your love of baking feed the underfed? Is the art you create in your downtime something that could be auctioned or donated to raise money or awareness for a worthy cause?  

When you allow yourself to rest, reflect, repair, and be revived, are you better able to share your best self with those around you? With some commitment and creativity, I believe the answer will be an overwhelming YES!   

Dr. Stephanie Nishek is a Naturopathic Doctor at Dakota Natural Health Center in Bismarck.