While the festive season is a lot of fun and a great time to catch up with family and friends, it can also be a time of stress and overwhelm.
Looming deadlines, multiple invitations to social events, gift shopping and other preparations for celebrations can take a toll on our mental, physical and emotional well-being.
We all want to give so much at Christmas but remember that you can’t nurture others unless you look after yourself first. You are going to need your strength, health and sanity!
To help you enjoy this time of year and be in a space to revel in true Christmas spirit (not just the eggnog!), here are ten ways to practice self-care –
1. Avoid the things that stress you
If you find social situations exhausting, make a limit for yourself as to how many you attend. It’s okay to say you have other plans, and there is no need to explain that those plans might be for a quiet night reading a good book or watching Netflix.
If being in a crowded shopping centre drains you of energy, shop online or make things yourself or go to the shops first thing in the morning to beat the hordes. Consider supporting your small local stores who aren’t in such busy areas or turn Christmas shopping into a fun day out by going to the local markets and enjoying brunch and some live music as well.
2. Decorate your surrounds
It’s amazing how much a bit of tinsel, pretty ornaments through your home, and a Christmas tree can lift spirits and remind us what a special time of year this is.
Use last years decorations in new arrangements or repurpose cardboard, jars, old Christmas cards etc into new décor – let your imagination run wild or ask Mr Google for suggestions. Make it a family activity for a lovely bonding experience.
3. Be mindful of what you eat
There are so many opportunities to indulge in sweet, fried or heavy treats, particularly at parties. Have a light healthy meal or snack before attending so you don’t pig out on foods that are bad for you.
Of course you can sample the delicacies – take the time to savour and appreciate them as treats. If you are hungry, choose healthy options like fruit, vegetable crudites and salads to fill up on.
4. It’s the time for giving
Giving to others makes us feel good – it’s a win/win. There are many people in need at this time of year – you can help by volunteering, donating goods or money, or simply reaching out to a neighbour or colleague who may be lonely.
Performing an ROK (Random Act of Kindness) is also a heart-warming way to give – pay for the coffee of the person behind you in line, give a bunch of flowers to a stranger in the shopping centre. The secret to ROK’s is the random part – give without any judgement or thought or rationalisation – this isn’t about need, it’s about giving.
5. Prioritise 'ME' time
We can get so caught up in trying to do everything and BE everything to everyone. Don’t set yourself up for failure by giving yourself an impossible task load. Even if you achieve it, you will be too depleted of energy (and goodwill!) to enjoy this wonderful time of year.
Grab your diary right now and block out at least a few hours every week for you to do something just for you. It might be getting a massage, going to a yoga class, painting, reading, sitting by the ocean – whatever it is that recharges your batteries and makes you happy. This isn’t you being slack – it’s the opposite really – by looking after yourself you will be better able to manage the everyday juggle. Now guard this time – you deserve this.
6. Set a Christmas budget
Finances can be a stress at any time but we seem particularly prone to overspending over the festive season. Set a budget for gifts, food, decorations etc – and stick to it.
Consider money-saving options like recycling décor – it’s amazing what a spritz of Snow-in -the-Can can do – and doing a Kris Kringle rather than buying for everyone. If you do need to buy gifts for quite a few people, discuss a price limit that everyone can manage – after all, it’s the thought that counts.
Buying big ticket items eg phones, laptops, bikes etc is best left to the Boxing Day or New Year sales – most adults and even teens are very happy with an IOU in a Christmas card on the big day. Why pay twice as much when a little patience and understanding can deliver big savings?
7. Reflect on the true meaning
What does Christmas really mean to you? Is it about being with family and loved ones? Do you celebrate the birth of Jesus? Is it a reminder to give? Is it time off work?
Centre yourself and focus on what Christmas means to YOU. Concentrate on making this time meaningful and let go of a lot of the trappings that have no relevance to you.
8. Stay hydrated
Water is the elixir of life. Keep your water bottle topped up and near you at all times. Add a slice of lemon or lime, or sprig of mint, to keep it fresh and flavourful so it’s more enticing to drink. Staying hydrated will keep you feeling cooler and healthier.
If you are drinking, alternate alcoholic drinks with water eg a lime and soda. You will be doing your brain and liver a favour as well as slowing down your intake of alcohol.
9. Connect with others
If parties, shopping, cooking and eating are your main focus, it can be easy to be distracted from spending quality time with family and friends.
Switch off the devices, step away from the screens and reserve some quality time together. Check in with people as to how their year has been, and what hopes they have for the new year. Drop the mask of perfection and share honestly – we connect most deeply on our vulnerabilities and our humanity.
10. Count your blessings
Now is the perfect time to reflect on all the things for which you are grateful. Make a list – the very act of writing embeds these good and happy thoughts in your heart and mind.
Things to put on your Gratitude List could include people in your life, good health, great things that happened during the year, always having shelter and enough to eat, the beauty of nature… and so on. Once you start thinking and writing you will soon see how very much you have for which to be grateful.
Have the best Christmas ever this year by looking after yourself, focusing on what’s most important to you and remembering how great your life really is!
Merry Christmas everyone…. And may 2021 be a wonderful year for you.