Christmas can be a stressful time of year. There seems to be a lot more shopping, financial pressures, more drinking, more food, more socialising (sometimes with family members that we usually do our best to avoid, which is a major stressor on its own). All of this occurs over a few short weeks.
Christmas can also be stressful for those who have lost family members. Christmas can highlight their absence and be a sad reminder that the loved one is no longer with you.
Bearing all of the above in mind, it is important to look at ways you can care for yourself over the festive period.
Taking time to be around people you love and who make you feel good
Whilst you may feel obliged to catch up with the family, remember to maintain balance with social connection with friends or people who care and support you.
Be aware of what feels right for you – in other words follow your intuition and limit time with people who put you down or who are toxic. If you find yourself going somewhere from a place of ‘should’ you will find that you will be doing it with resentment. So if you feel obliged to attend a family function, perhaps this is the year to limit the amount of time that you attend – instead of going all day, maybe leave early. Remember balance is the key here, not obligation.
You matter – self-care as a priority
Over the Christmas break why not make it a personal challenge to make you a priority. Check in with what you need, perhaps it could be reading a good novel, taking walks along the beach, catching up for coffee with a friend, sitting outside with a cuppa and enjoying nature.
Whilst Christmas is about giving to others, this year you could also include giving to yourself
Stay centred, calm and balanced
With the busyness of Christmas (they do call it the ‘silly season’) it is so easy to get pulled off centre with the shopping, preparation, school holidays, family gatherings, socialising and entertaining.
When you feel off balance or get drawn into the storm around you, it is hard to find joy and peace. However, if you are able to stay connected with yourself you have the ability to be the ‘calm in the storm’. This is possible by taking a moment (or 2 or 3 or 4) where you take a breath and bring yourself back to the NOW. The body is always present; it is the mind that takes us off into the future. We worry about what might happen or focus on catastrophic possible outcomes, as we take ourselves off onto a journey to who knows where. Or the mind takes us back into the past, where we ruminate about things that have occurred, or been said.
So staying calm, present, centred and connected is vital to your health and wellbeing at this time of year.
Below is a link for a short ‘coming to your senses’ recording by Petrea King from the Quest for Life Foundation. Taking some time out to do this short practice will support you in looking after you this holiday season.
http://www.questforlife.com.au/_literature_161871/Coming_to_Your_Senses.mp3. It is not necessarily about the gifts but more about giving.
Families can spend an immense amount of money each Christmas on buying gifts. Often this can be money that they don’t have or cannot afford. Do we really need more stuff?
As a family, we no longer buy gifts for each other. We do buy for the grandchildren, but the adults in the family have all decided that we now donate whatever money we were going to spend on presents to a nominated charity. This feels right for us and you will know what feels right for you and your family.
If you do give gifts it can be the thought that counts or celebrating loving and joyous time with family.
So with the end of 2016 approaching, rather than focusing on what you want to bring into 2017 and making resolutions about how you want things to be different, perhaps this is the time to reflect on all that you have accomplished this year and in your life. Also to get in contact with your sense of gratitude and appreciation for your family, loved ones, friends, your health or work.
A family ritual we have adopted is before we eat our meal at a family gathering, we go around the table and each say what we feel grateful for. It has become a family tradition that we all love
So taking this opportunity to stop thinking about your life, your job, and everything you want to change, and for one now, this time, this year, to be filled with gratitude and being present in the moment, surrounded by people you love and support you.
I hope by applying some of these principles will allow you to have a joyous, peaceful and loving holiday period.
Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and joyous New Year