By Stephanie Lavelle
For so many of us Christmas comes with an endless to-do list, an avalanche of expectation and the anxiety of spending time with people out of obligation. So how can we make sure that these stressors don’t derail our opportunities for fun and peace?
The best way - be super mindful and invested in your self-care practices!
By having great self-care throughout the holiday period you are supporting yourself to feel less overwhelmed, to enjoy moments with more presence and reduce the opportunity for stress to hijack your emotional and mental health.
Now, let's get on the same page here before we delve deeper into the specifics of self-care and the holidays.
While the small self-care acts like manicures, massages and bubble baths are fantastic to give you a lift and help you be in the moment for a short time, the real power of self-care at this time of year comes from healthy eating, moving your body regularly, quality sleep and most importantly healthy and supportive boundaries for your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.
Exhale people, I know right, that felt big!
For those of us who identify with the version of self described in paragraph one, this notion of boundaries and upholding them can feel soooo foreign and unattainable but through small daily practices to give yourself the respect you deserve, utilising appropriate boundaries becomes a lifestyle.
So what does this mean for the holidays?
Step 1 - Fuel Your Body Well
We all know we are going to indulge and be more stationary as the year ends, so leading up to that time be sure to give your body a balanced and nutrition rich diet.
Limit the sugar, the fat and the processed foods and drink loads of water (in between the multitude of Xmas parties!) and what better time of year to do that?
The range of fresh food ready to eat straight from the vine, or fruit bowl, is so epically delicious this time of year, snacking becomes an adventure if you let it ;) My 14 year old ate a handful of fresh beans as his snack this afternoon and didn’t even complain that there were no packaged goods in the house, winning!
Step 2 - Move Your Body
Now this doesn’t necessarily mean exercise! Moving your body can be anything that feels right for you in the time that you have set aside to include this in your day.
You may decide you want to just dance around the house for 1 song, that’s perfect! You may want to schedule regular gym sessions. It might be yoga at sunrise, an afternoon walk as a family or alone to clear your mind from the days happenings, climbing some trees with your kids, getting pummeled by waves or going for a swim, jumping on the trampoline - whatever you like!
The key here is to move with the intention of releasing any stress that has built up in your body since you last moved. You don’t have to even acknowledge the reasons you’ve felt overwhelmed or out of sorts, just move freely without judging your movement or if it’s a workout you’re doing be sure to listen to your body and do what feels right for you in the moment. If you need rest take it, if you need to do more or less then follow your intuition.
Move and make sure you enjoy it, that is all!
Step 3 - Rest & Replenish
Making sure you are getting enough rest every night is essential. Also making sure you are getting quality sleep is key.
Some great tips for getting quality sleep would be:
Go to bed at the same time every night if possible.
Create a sleep routine where you wind down and do the same series of actions every night before bed, so your body and mind start to anticipate sleep and you are able to fall into a deep sleep state more easily. This might be turning off all technology at least 1hr before sleep and taking a warm bath, followed by a cup of herbal tea and reading a novel (not a work related book). Repeating this nightly will start to trigger a response of deep relaxation and replenishment of your body, mind and soul and help you wake feeling refreshed and ready to achieve wonderful things every day.
Make sure you have the right pillow for your body. Making sure your spine is supported appropriately is great self-care and impacts all areas of your physical body's health.
Invest in a weighted blanket and feel the impact of deep pressure touch in helping your body relax quickly and stay relaxed for longer. This alone could be life changing in relation to the quality and quantity of sleep you experience.
Step 4 - Set Boundaries That Support YOU!
Ahhhh the real key arrives!
Each of these steps above involve enacting a boundary to some degree.
Choosing to eat healthy and appropriate amounts for your body takes self awareness and control.
Carving out the time to move your body and release any stress that’s being built up daily might mean saying ‘no’ to doing something for someone else or at least asking them to wait.
Ensuring you are getting the quality and quantity of sleep you need to feel great could involve setting new nightly boundaries in your home so that you feel supported in preparing for sleep in a way that feels most nourishing for you.
The point is, without setting boundaries in our lives we over extend ourselves, resent others and feel completely overwhelmed.
When we take the time to consider where we are over giving and starting to feel resentment in our lives we are able to get clear on what boundaries we might need to be able to feel more content and empowered within our lives.
So I invite you to ask yourself this question. What are you saying ‘yes’ to when really you want to say ‘no’ and what things are you saying ‘no’ to when really they are exactly the things you want to commit to in life?
Once you have this answer take the time to assess what it is you need to feel more comfortable with the situation.
This could be asking or paying someone for help, it could be saying no to spending time with people who make you feel uncomfortable in some way, it could be focusing only on one thing at a time and saying no to everything else that is expected of you.
Whatever it is, being clear on how, where and with whom you wish to invest your time and energy will become super clear and you then get to make choices that help you to maintain these boundary limits.
The last piece of advice in relation to setting boundaries and upholding them is that NO is a complete sentence! You don’t owe anyone an explanation and if there is a task or activity that you don’t wish to participate in then simply saying ‘no’ is enough. If you choose to explain this further this is your choice but always know that you are not obligated to explain boundaries to make other people feel comfortable.
So, as you move closer to the holiday period I hope you are able to infuse a level of self-care into your life that supports you to feel the freedom, confidence and joy that you deserve.