A link to Joanna Doane Ottavio's profile on Psychology Today, where she is verified as a fully licensed therapist in the state of Arizona.
A link to Joanna Doane Ottavio's profile on Online Counselling Directory, where she is verified as a licensed therapist providing online counseling in the state of Arizona.
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Twelve Days of Self-Care

Updated: Dec 24, 2019

The holidays can do strange things to many of us. A lot of it has to do with what they represent, and the skewed standards of normal that we seem forced to live up to through the nature of the season. There is certainly nothing at all wrong with ideas like family togetherness, peace, or joy. The problem is that you may not be fortunate enough to have personal circumstances in which exposure to these ideas will not create subsequent feelings of increased isolation, alienation, loneliness, guilt, and shame. It could be that you are spending this season of "family togetherness" and "giving" staring through a lens of significant personal loss or hardship. It could also be that the holidays trigger yearly depression or anxiety related to past trauma or loss. In such circumstances, all this talk of "peace" and "joy" can be understandably a bit hard to stomach.

My new series, Twelve Days of Self-Care, is meant to provide practical strategies and techniques that may help you cope with a difficult holiday season. Taken loosely from the classic holiday song, Twelve Days of Christmas, the focus will be on increasing self-care versus talking about swans swimming, or ladies dancing.

Please know that, although I may be a licensed therapist, I am not your therapist. If you are really struggling, please seek professional help in your local area, as a blog article - no matter how informative - can never take the place of real treatment. Also, not all items blogged about will be in the scope of psychotherapy. A lot of it will be just practical things you can do to not stress so much about gift buying, or forcing yourself into seeing a family that you may have been born into but do not necessarily really have to force yourself to be around.

On a personal note, while providing therapy at a homeless shelter for 3 1/2 years, I couldn't help but at times struggle with the holidays by extension of my work. In turn, if you are a behavioral health professional, case worker, first responder, or work retail over the holidays (I've been there too), these strategies may also benefit you. Ultimately, if someone out there tries something I suggest at some point along the way, and it happens to help them, that has been my only real purpose for posting these things.

Blog Articles are Scheduled to Post as Follows:

Thur Dec 12: Introduction - Twelve Days of Self-care (this post)

Fri Dec 13: Day 1 - The Family You Choose

Sat Dec 14: Day 2 - Defining Your Own Meaning

Sun Dec 15: Day 3 - Creating Your Own Traditions

Mon Dec 16: Day 4 - Alternative Holiday Gifts

Tue Dec 17: Day 5 - Determining the Time You Spend

Wed Dec 18: Day 6 - Setting Boundaries

Thur Dec 19: Day 7 - Ask for Help Fri Dec 20: Day 8 - Rest As Much as Needed

Sat Dec 21: Day 9 - Avoid Isolating Sun Dec 22: Day 10 - Avoid Over-scheduling

Mon Dec 23: Day 11 - Give Yourself Something

Tue Dec 24: Day 12 - Realistic Resolutions

So stay tuned over the next 12 days. Tomorrow we'll be talking about the "joys" of family togetherness, and how enjoying the holidays sometimes means adjusting who you let into your life.