Self-care over Christmas
There will be plenty published about the joys of Christmas at this time of year and how family time becomes more important, giving is better than receiving and how being able to indulge in fine food and drink becomes an acceptable autopilot.
It can be a reflective time too though, a time to consider who has passed, a time to measure achievements and failures, gains and losses and a time to give a summary of the departing year; what would be your headline to capture your 2019?
If you drew a start and finish on piece of paper, where would you mark yourself on this life map right now? Have you gone forwards, backwards or remained still? December is a time of re-assessment.
Reflections can be powerful; both positive and negative and also neutral. The tradition of resolutions in the New Year can help clear the way of bad habits and unhelpful behaviours, but I’d like to challenge this by asking- why wait until January? Why prolong your suffering and unhappiness a minute longer? Procrastinating the helping of yourself is linked to low self-worth. You are effectively putting other things above your own self-care. In a busy and hectic world, it is easy to put others first and value relationships and people more than yourself: If you aren’t in a good place, if you’re sad, unhappy and dependant on other people in an all-consuming way then are you any good to that person? Is that a quality relationship? Does this behaviour add value to your existence?
In all likelihood the answer will be No.
Self- neglect can cause a whole host of mental health concerns. It’s time to ask why you feel you don’t matter and why you feel you aren’t as important as those around you…counselling can help you find those answers.
What can you do to value yourself this Christmas time?
- Accept how you feel each day and do not berate yourself for not feeling how you think you are supposed to feel at Christmas.
- Understand that your feelings and thoughts will change throughout the course of a day, week and month; check in with your moods and notice just how much they change hour to hour. Awareness of this will let you know that thoughts and feeling do pass- they aren’t permanent.
- Don’t feel like going out? Don’t. Have rest day. Try again tomorrow, and if that’s a rest day too- embrace it. Listen to what your body is telling you that you need.
- You are important and you are loved- remind yourself of this.
- Enjoy Christmas in YOUR way- if that means no toxic friends and family then so be it. It’s your holiday too.
- See who you want to see and make arrangements with the people that bring you positivity.
- Take a walk- connect with nature
- Ask for help if you need it
- Drink in moderation- emotions can become amplified under the influence of alcohol, be wary if you are already feeling low, and again ask for help if you need it.
- Spend only what you can afford to spend. Overspending is linked to meeting the expectations of other people. Think about why you feel you want to please particular people and off-set that against if you can afford to do so.
Maintain your boundaries
- Outline before the festivities start, to your family or friends what YOU are comfortable with – if that is just a brew and biscuit with them for an hour or sitting down for the full Christmas meal- think about what YOU want and what will make you happy on the days you are visiting or hosting.
- If you have certain traditions, consider if these still meet your needs now you are older or in different living circumstances (i.e. newly married, newly a parent, or newly single); acknowledge the old but dare to create the new. If people don’t know how you feel about traditions then you’ll quickly find yourself in limiting arrangements for years to come with resentment as your friend.
- Say No. If you don’t want to do something or see someone then don’t, or be very sparing with your time (if it is a complex situation requiring support, such as being a carer or having dependants). This will be a challenge for those who don’t like to let people down or feel responsible for another person’s happiness, but you aren’t responsible for them- you are responsible for yourself. It takes practice but once you start to listen to yourself more and make yourself heard then finding a balance becomes much easier and you feel less guilty for putting yourself first. Of course, there will be compromises along the way, but make sure you are happy with what is compromised on your side.
- Include your self-care routine over the festivities- make time for yourself. I’ll say that again: Make time for yourself- remember it’s your holiday too.
If you find you are struggling over Christmas and New Year and are unable to access mental health services then the Samaritans are available 27/7. Please call: 116 123. This is a freephone number. Or email email@example.com