“We can’t give that which sustains us,” John King says. “We have to be very, very mindful of practicing self-care.”

self-careAs the peak of the holiday season approaches, our time and energy reserves can often stretch thin. Here to discuss ways we can take care of ourselves—and each other—amidst the holiday frenzy is John King, a certified peer specialist and Beaumont-based Wellness Recovery Action Plan™ (WRAP) facilitator.

Being Present and Moving Forward

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness Austin, WRAP is a “self-management and recovery system” developed by consumers, or people who have lived experience of mental health conditions. Through a series of clear, actionable steps, WRAP empowers people to recognize the agency they possess in shaping their recovery journey.

“By saying mental health wellness instead of mental health illness, we learn to emphasize to them that they are not their diagnosis,” King says. “The wellness story is where people really move forward in their recovery.”

King has a wellness story of his own that he shares in hopes that others can also achieve and maintain forward momentum. That sense of direction comes in handy during the holidays—particularly in times of hardship, when nostalgia for years past can weigh heavy on the mind.

“Just as we can’t look back and romanticize the past, I think if we romanticize this time of year—it’s never going to be the way we remember the holiday season as a child,” King says. “So I’m focusing on … doing what I can to enjoy the present moment.”

The Ripple Effect of Self-Care

Even though it’s the season for giving, taking the time needed for self-care should remain a priority. “We need to remember that there’s only so much we can do,” King says. “We have to give ourselves the grace to be able to take a day off for our own well-being.”

Self-advocacy, one of WRAP’s core principles, serves as a valuable tool when stressful tasks and situations arise—not just during the holidays, but year-round.

“Unless you’re able to effectively advocate for yourself, you end up being pulled in too many directions,” King says. “Sometimes you have to realize that just saying no is a complete sentence.”

Personal wellness can pave the way for stronger community ties if individuals practicing self-care decide to share their time and knowledge with others. King, who considers himself a “professional volunteer,” believes that volunteering can also be a small yet crucial step in building one’s own supportive network.

“Especially in this era of budgetary cuts, many agencies and organizations are short-staffed,” King says. “If you have a little time and interest, finding a place to volunteer is rewarding—and it spreads the message of mental wellness.”

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