A Filipino Holiday Wellness Guide To Get You Through The Season

A Filipino Holiday Wellness Guide To Get You Through The Season

For most Filipinos, Christmas brings in a parade of festivities: home-made meals, presents (pamasko) from friends and long-distance relatives, and twinkling decorations like the parols that dot the highways and our own homes.

What can I give to Angel from spin class? Or Joshua from down the street? We ponder over on our sofas, creating lists and scheduling trips to the mall.

Just last weekend, I visited the salon to bleach and dye my hair an ash grey colour. When the bill went over my initial budget, my stylist who I’ve only met twice before, offered the second application of bleach as a Christmas gift. I was confused at first, but grateful for the spirit of generosity during the holidays that affects even those we barely know.

Photo by Any Lane.

In an ordinary year, Christmas looks different for everyone—you might prefer to keep celebrations small and simple, some might gather with friends and relatives, while others don’t mind a little solitude. For some in the Filipino community, the holidays may be a time of grief or struggle. And even the most festive of us can forget the importance of extending generosity to ourselves as well.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by it all, we at Cambio & Co. have rounded up a few wellness tips to get you through the holidays.

1. Stretch, move, or even break a sweat.

It’s easy to feel sluggish during the holidays, this year especially, what with most workplaces closed, public health conditions considered, and mandates to stay at home一away from any mall crowds. It’s even easier to resign yourself to 10 hours of Netflix.

But if you need a reminder of just how exercise and movement, in general, can impact your overall health, we’re happy to give you a friendly nudge. You don’t even have to aspire to the endurance of a star athlete to reap the benefits of a 15-minute workout. One word: endorphins.

Photo by Elle Hughes.

Not to mention, with the arrival of long-distance relatives (at your family’s own discretion of course), remember to give yourself grace and space to process any unsolicited comments. We’ve written extensively about radical body love and redefining Filipina beauty standards in response to body shaming in the Philippines, but it resonates even deeper during the holidays.

2. Take time for self-reflection and self-compassion.

Last week, my therapist said, “Give yourself more credit for the work you do” and it deeply impacted me. 

All year, I was neurotically focused on the skills I needed to improve on, the opportunities I let go of, and minor setbacks that ballooned into monumental failures in my ever-critical mind. All this while conveniently forgetting that I finally got the role I set my eyes on at work and managed to self-publish a chapbook of essays!

I concluded by telling myself that I’ve done enough the past year and that actually I’ve accomplished a great deal just surviving.

Photo by Esteé Janssens.

End-of-year festivities really put the snapshots of your 2020 under a magnifying lens—your victories or the lack thereof. This year was defined by a global pandemic, a string of strong typhoons in the Philippines, and a recession affecting millions of Filipinos. So, show yourself some compassion.

Journaling helps puts things into perspective and remind us on a rainy day. The Moonlist Journal is a personal favorite for guided self-reflection. Whether you declare your intentions to the void, to your therapist, or to the people you trust, it’s the first step to reconciling with the times and being more compassionate about the feats and losses of the past year and the one to come.

3. Consume art and stay inspired.

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs and essays by women like Rebecca Solnit, Chanel Miller, and Filipina-American writer Jia Tolentino—women spanning different generations—who confront their realities with razor-sharp insight and depth. They inspire me to examine my role in my own community more critically and alchemize that into some form of art.

Read a book, watch a film, or listen to an album. The world may be at a standstill, but artists and thinkers alike continue to forage through our history to help us survive the terrain of our lives. And that’s precisely it—consuming art is a way to affirm that we’re not alone.

4. Rest as a form of resistance.

Cambio co-founder, Gelaine Santiago pose a powerful question in her blog post  about the unfamiliar concept of rest for Filipino women within their own households, “When do we ever show up for ourselves?” She elaborates, “I’ve come to realize that the pressure on women of colour to constantly be ‘on’ is a symptom of our capitalist, patriarchal, and racist society. Ignoring our needs is yet another way we’re taught to de-value our time, skills, labour, bodies and energy.”

So, rest. Whatever that looks like for you. It could be all of the things listed here or just one. But finally, finally show up for yourself.

5. Send yourself a gift.

In just a few weeks, I’ve learned how to create pour over coffee and hop double unders using my jump rope.

I never thought I would appreciate the notes of different types of coffee beans (comparing acidity, sweetness, and the like), or the high of an intense jump rope routine, but I took the leap by purchasing the necessary tools. The proverbial journey from point A to B, from novice to proficient, is a rewarding journey that consistently makes me feel proud of myself. 

This Christmas, don’t forget to spend your hard-earned money on yourself (and ideally with a Filipino-owned business) so you experience the joy of learning something new and, in turn, expand what you already know about yourself. 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez.

Parting words

This past year dissolved the smokescreen of the frantic way we used to live. This season, may you think more deeply and reframe pasko not as a capitalist fantasy, but about making peace with the reality of our times (with all its hardships, losses, and what-if’s), then find it within you to accept and celebrate it in true Filipino fashion with your loved ones and larger community. 

How have you been taking extra care of yourself this holiday season? Send this guide to someone who might need a gentle reminder.

Zea Asis

Zea Asis

Zea is a nonprofit professional in her past life. She now works for a design platform with the goal to democratize design and grow their online communities. Outside of work, she goes boxing, is learning how to design clothes and constantly curating her closet to look like a cool grandma.