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Whether you love Christmas, hate Christmas or feel it’s just another day, there is no doubt December becomes one of the busiest times of year for many people! Not only do our diaries become busy with plans, to do lists over flowing, but shops become busier, adverts become more persistent and societies expectations to “get into the Christmas spirit” can leave lots of us over loaded in all sorts of ways.
Hopefully throughout this blog you can find some helpful ideas, so you don’t get your mental tinsel in a tangle and find ways to maintain your self care and peace of mind throughout the festive season.
1. Create time for your needs
Let’s face it, you will never find time for your self care, you absolutely have to create the time you need. But a little planning goes a long way.
Consider what helps you feel uplifted, relaxed or calmer, and schedule time accordingly. The most important part of self care is noticing and connecting to your needs, and Mindfulness itself is Awareness.
Kelly Pietrangeli, author of Project Me For Busy Mothers notes that 'you should notice when you're depleted and do something to recharge your batteries each day”.
Self-care is the intentional care of ones physical, emotional and mental health through every day practices and routines – so naturally it’s going to look and feel different to different people, and will look and feel different at varying points of the year – and that’s ok!
2. Manage your expectations
And this is an important one! Don’t get sucked into thinking this time of year has to look a certain way and that everyone will get through the season with rosy cheeks and a big smile on their face, beside the roaring fire.
Make time to reflect on how you want your Christmas to be, but remember it’s got be reasonable, and notice if your mind begins creating unrealistic expectations (from yourself or others), that way you can be much more open to whatever happens.
3. Let go of perfectionism – Christmas isn’t about how you perform
I’m lucky enough to have grown up with a Mother who could cook huge, delicious meals for 20+ guests crammed round a dining table on an assortment of chairs – and this created my idea of a perfect Christmas!
What I’ve come to realise is how this pressure (to live up to someone else’s standards) has become one of my major stressors at this time of year. My own need for perfection and approval has meant I’ve missed a lot of happy moments by worrying “is what I’ve done good enough?”.
Whatever your Christmas day/ schedule looks like, remember that you are enough, and that anyone who shares time with you over the festive season, want’s to spend it with you, not just with what you give or provide.
You don’t need to be the only one planning and preparing for Christmas so ask for helps. Whilst this might mean having someone bring things or do things that might not be what you planned (or it might not live up to the standards you place on yourself) allowing yourself to release perfectionism takes more strain off you.
4. Don’t let social media tell you how to run your Christmas!
This idea is true whether it’s Christmas or not! Social media is full of more ideas of ‘how Christmas should be’ which leaves you focussing on others, instead of yourself, your friends and family.
Refocusing on yourself also helps you focus on the here and now, and staying present in your day will hugely help keep your stress levels lower this time of year.
5. Go for a mindful walk.
Poor weather and freezing temperatures can really hold us a back this time of year – especially when it’s tempting to cosy up warm watching snow outside! But a mindful walk not only keeps you physically more active, which can improve our sleep, breathing and digestion, but natural light and fresh air have been shown to improve our mood and mindset.
Make an effort to get outside, even if it’s simply sitting for a few minutes – a light walk is enough refresh your mind, and interestingly short walks have been found to be just as beneficial as short walks. Although a long walk helps build confidence and endurance, shorter walks at a good pace can burn more calories whilst you enjoy fresher air.
6. Start with a stretch
Over Christmas we tend to spend more time sitting than any other time of year, so connect back to your body and allow yourself to feel it move gently.
It doesn’t have to be yoga, but just some light stretching will reduce aches and pains from moving less than normal, and improves mobility to help you through every day tasks, and feel a lighter more energised state The Mayo Clinic.
And if your looking for physical ways to move and be mindful we have a blog dedicated to Mindful activities for those who don't want to stay still.
7. Make time to be alone and mentally recharge in silence
As we’ve said earlier, Christmas is often a very social time, so do make sure to give your brain and all your senses a social break and schedule quiet time if you need to (even for 5 or 10 minutes).
It's very easy to become overwhelmed with stimulus (people chatting, Christmas songs playing, bright colours everyway, flashing lights, etc) so why not spend just a little time in silence.
Spending time in silence has been shown to reduce racing thoughts, reduce blood pressure and help ease struggles with poor sleep,, and research by Health Line states silence can encourage brain growth and healing, improve concentration, improve focus and helps towards your mindful attitude.
8. Keep a routine
Whilst many of us relish having some time off over Christmas and getting to lie in, eat when
we want and not worry about timings, there is a lot to be gained for keeping a soft schedule to your day and night.
To avoid feeling groggy every day, and to help when getting
back to routine in the New Year simply be mindful of your eating and sleeping patterns and aim for something not too dissimilar than normal.
Keeping a soft schedule gives you clearer boundaries, helps you maintain better energy levels, better concentration and improve your mood in general.
9. Just 3 things
This is an old coaching technique that helps you prioritise, connect to your self worth and achievements and it can help prevent overwhelm.
Each day focus on your list of the 3 main things you want to complete/ achieve (if they are large tasks break them down to bitesize chunks) and commit to seeing them completed.
If you get more done than your three things – great! If you don’t manage them all – don’t worry! It’s simply time to either refocus which will give you a better insight into your daily plans, or its time to revaluate why it can’t get done right now.
Having a tick list helps provide satisfaction and a sense of achievement for those who struggle to feel they do enough through a different perspective, helps keep your organised and mindful of your day, mindful of your energy and mindful of the expectations you are placing on yourself.
10. Gain perspective and gratitude.
The saying ‘change how you see, and see how you change’ is definitely one to adopt right now if your struggling.
When overwhelmed and stressed we forget that we have a choice to shift our focus from what might be lacking over the winter – warmth, sunshine, nature in bloom. However, we can choose to shift our awareness to see its gifts, the beauty and what is going well.
A year ending opens the door for more self-reflection – so what ask yourself what went well this year? What held you back? How are you going to help yourself moving forward? Every year you gain a new perspective from the last, so what will you do differently?
A slower pace brings with it an opportunity to rest and recalibrate physically and mentally, after all nothing blooms all year long! So let us look for the good, and find the rainbow instead of the rain.
The ability to consciously change our perspective and refocus on the good things in life, with some practice can actually become embedded in our brain thanks to neurological plasticity. This means new positive patterns of thinking can become automatic and support your continual wellbeing.
With that said, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year when it comes,
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