Christmas is a time of year that many people love. There’s a lot to enjoy about ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, it’s true. However, for many, the festive season can be challenging. That’s why in this post, I’m going to be looking at how to practise self-care at Christmas.
Self-care is one of those terms that gets thrown about quite a lot now, but the basic premise is a good one. Our lives get so busy these days that we really do forget to look after ourselves. This is never more so than at Christmas, when feelings of performance anxiety and financial pressures can really start to explode.
Now before you start calling me a Grinch, it’s important to clear your mind a bit. Christmas can bring about untold amounts of pressure to be cheerful. For most people, this is an easy thing, but for some, it just compounds feelings of anxiety and stress they may already be dealing with.
If you’re someone who spends a large chunk of the year preparing for Christmas in advance, that’s great. If, however, you’re more like me and December seems to creep up out of nowhere each year, this post is probably for you.
Christmas can be a wonderful time, there’s no doubt about it. But when the season of goodwill to all men leaves its goodwill towards you at the door, how do you stay OK? In this post, I’m going to take a look at ways you can take care of yourself when it matters most.
Self-care at christmas isn’t impossible
But it’s not easy either. The whole month of December seems to be swallowed up in one huge pre-Christmas preparation scheme. For some, the stress of having to ‘get everything ready in time’ is actually quite harmful. The worst bit is, you can’t let that show because you’ll be met with cries of ‘Scrooge’ and ‘Grinch’. It’s a difficult month to navigate, but it’s not impossible.
In terms of self-care, there are a number of different aspects to consider during the festive season. It’s a month that demands a lot from people emotionally, mentally, socially, physically and also financially. This shouldn’t be underestimated. As the cost of living has skyrocketed in the UK, more and more of us are feeling the pinch. The pressure of gift-giving at Christmas can really bring that to a head.
To try and combat this, let’s look at some small ways we can alleviate the stresses brought on at this time of year. Self-care at Christmas needs to be more of a priority, so if you have any suggestions to add make sure to pop them in the comments below too.
There’s an unspoken sentiment around Christmas that we should all be happy and joyful. For the most part that’s true, but actually, Christmas can throw up some complex feelings for people. Those of us who have had family or friends that are no longer with them, for example, can find this time of year particularly challenging. I remember the first Christmas after my dad died; seeing his chair empty at the table during Christmas dinner was really horrible.
Other emotional factors come into play at Christmas too. It’s a time people can feel quite lonely, even if they do have a lot of family around them. It can be hard for those who may be estranged from their partners or children, or for those who struggle with seasonal depression, for example.
What van we do to take care of our emotional wellbeing at Christmas? Here are some ideas.
- Stay away from social media – it can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and intensify self-doubt.
- Do something creative – even if it’s just colouring in with your kids, take half an hour out each night to do something calming and let your mind breathe.
- Remember that it doesn’t matter about getting everything perfect – honestly, it doesn’t.
- Do something to help someone else – this is actually what Christmas should be about. Now more than ever there are people in the UK who need support. So if you can, use some time to help out at a food bank or offer your support to anyone who is alone.
- Go to bed early – I can’t stress enough how important sleep is for your emotional wellbeing, particularly at Christmas!
One aspect of self-care at Christmas that often goes totally out of the window is our physical wellbeing. It’s December, it’s freezing cold, illnesses are rife and exercise is a dirty word. Which is exactly why it’s so important not to let the pressure of the Christmas chaos impact your physical health. I know it’s cold outside, but there are some ways in which you can keep on top of your fitness and wellbeing. Plus, you’re going to need all the strength you can get to deal with the in-laws, right?
Here are some ideas of how to take care of our physical wellbeing at Christmas.
- Try to eat some fruit and vegetables each day – and no, a chocolate orange doesn’t count. Seriously though, neglecting your nutrition over Christmas is so easy to do and it messes up our health so quickly. I’m not saying don’t enjoy the festive treats, just remember that your body needs certain things to stay healthy and fight off those nasty colds too.
- Go for a daily walk – even if it’s just a little one! It’s very easy to become sedentary over the festive season, so even a brisk stroll around the block once a day will help your body stay alert.
- Take vitamins – you might find that you need a bit of a boost to fend off all the nasty viruses that rear their heads in December. Stock up on some vitamin D as well, as there’s precious little sunshine about during the last month of the year!
- Make time to wash your hair and care for your skin – I know this seems obvious, but many of us get so caught up with rushing around after the kids and other people that we forget to properly care for ourselves. Make sure you don’t neglect yourself, even if that is something as small as washing your face and styling your hair each day.
Undoubtedly, Christmas brings with it the greatest sense of financial pressure of the year. Some people spend a fortune at Christmas; others simply cannot. Whatever your personal circumstances, it’s important to remember that self-care at Christmas also extends itself to your finances.
The most important way to improve your financial wellbeing at this time of year is, in my opinion, to retain a healthy dose of perspective. Christmas shouldn’t be about how much stuff you’ve bought. It should be about the time we spend with each other. In the real world though, you can’t really do Christmas Day without gifts, especially if you’re a parent.
So, how to take care of our financial wellbeing during the Christmas period? Here are a few suggestions.
- Decide on a budget and stick to it – try and be sensible about what you can realistically afford. There’s no point going all out only to find yourself struggling for the next three months of the year. Decide on what you can spend, and don’t go over it.
- Remember that you don’t need multiple gifts per person – sometimes, one thing is enough. Gifts are not an indication of who you are or how much you love someone. Don’t give yourself a hard time over gifting, because if the shoe was on the other foot, would you think less of someone who only got you one gift? I’d like to think not.
- Use cashback sites when shopping to try and save yourself some money – they’re a great way to claw back some of your spending!
- Don’t overspend on Christmas dinner – you can get some nice additions to make it more festive, but it’s basically just a nice Sunday roast, so don’t start stressing out about it too much.
Being around so many people at Christmas can really heighten anxiety and exhaustion. One way to improve your social wellbeing is to remind yourself you’re under no obligation to entertain people. While it’s lovely to spend time with friends and family at Christmas, you absolutely do not have to. There’s nothing wrong with putting limits on the number of social interactions you have to have at this time of year.
This also extends to social media, which I’ve already mentioned in brief. Unplug yourself for a bit over the festive season, and see how much better you feel for it afterwards!
Here are some more ideas for how to practise self-care at Christmas when faced with social situations.
- Choose who you want to spend time with. You’re in control, remember. You don’t have to invite the world and its wife for Christmas dinner if you don’t want to.
- It’s OK to say no – if you don’t want to attend certain parties or events, don’t feel as though you have to. Going to a few things and actually enjoying yourself is more important than going to everything and feeling exhausted by them all.
- Spend time with the people who matter most…and only those people.
- Reach out to old friends – if you want to. The year can get busy, so Christmas can be a nice time to reconnect with people you might’ve drifted apart from.
- Schedule or limit your social media time – or even better, just switch it off completely for a couple of weeks
Why is self-care at christmas so important?
Because it’s actually a pretty challenging month to deal with, even for the most organised amongst us. We spend so much time working, preparing and planning that often, we forget to actually enjoy it ourselves.
This time of year is about kindness and goodwill, and that should begin with ourselves. If you’re finding the pre-Christmas rush hard work, then you’re not the only one. This year, I’m saying it’s OK to do less. Let’s not burn ourselves out trying to get everything done for the perfect Christmas. Let’s take care of ourselves too, and enjoy the festive season for what it should be; spending time with the ones we love.
And let’s be happier while we do that.
How do you do it?
I’d love to hear from you about your own feelings towards Christmas. Is it a time of year you love or do you find it hard too? If you’ve got any comments or suggestions about how to survive the festive season then please do add them below. Please do give this post a share if you think it’d be helpful to anyone else too.
As always, you can catch up with me over on Twitter, and if you’re looking for more blogs on wellbeing then this one is a good place to start. Enjoy your Christmases…and make sure you take care of yourselves as well as everyone else!