Every year I tell myself that next year I will be more organised. I will finally put my wellbeing at Christmas further up my own wishlist. I will finish work earlier and I will start my Christmas shopping earlier. Every year I never manage to do any of these things. In fact I think I get closer to the line each Christmas!
When I finally do sit back and relax, I usually crash and burn. Either with extreme tiredness or the usual case of tonsillitis! Apparently, I’m not the only one. According to the British Medical Journal, the risk of having a heart attack is a whopping 37 percent higher on Christmas Eve. This is partly to do with the increased stress we experience during the holiday period.
No change this year
Despite all this, 2022 is still no different to the rest. Yes, I am working till Friday 23rd and no, I have not finished my Christmas shopping. With the postal strikes this week I am actually having a little panic inside!
The pressures that we put on ourselves to attend all of the events, buy all of the presents and plan “the perfect” Christmas are endless! However, as much as I absolutely Christmas and everything that goes with it. This year I am much more conscious about my health (physical and mental). I know that is more important than everything else I prioritise over the holidays.
Its too late for me to make any changes now in the run up to Christmas. But I have made a plan of how I can look after my wellbeing over the Christmas holidays. Starting as soon as I finish work on Friday 23rd
Top 5 tips for managing my wellbeing
It is so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to someone else’s Christmas highlight reel on Social media and feeling like you’re not doing it right. The perfect Christmas is an illusion created by the mass media! It doesn’t exist. It is important we remind ourselves of this during the holidays. My perfect Christmas will be very different to yours and the next person’s and that is OK. In fact its more than OK. It should be exactly as you want it to be and not how social media reels guilt us into thinking we should be doing it.
I love exercising and being active and when I fall out of my routine, I definitely feel stress mount up. Or at least my ability to cope with stress is affected and I can feel that happening already. One of the most powerful ways for me to de-stress and switch off is to spend time outdoors with my family and Popcorn (our dog). Thousands of studies have been carried out on the benefits of being out in nature. From reducing depression and anxiety to lowering blood pressure. Even if it’s cold, we throw on some layers and go for a walk. There are so many places on our doorstep to access, we are really lucky. Give it a go. You will be amazed at how good it can make you feel (and knacker the kids out so they go to bed early!)
Those of you who know me, know I am not about restriction over the Christmas period. Nor would I ever advocate crash dieting following the Christmas period as a punishment for enjoying good food. However, there is a common sense approach to everything. Christmas Day can overwhelm our senses and it is very easy to become absorbed by the endless supply of food and drink.
I find this especially hard when I go and stay with my parents in the North East. My mam’s kitchen cupboards are stacked to the brim with every food we have ever said we liked during our childhood. Just for the record, I am not complaining about this – I love it! However, as much as I love to enjoy my favourite foods, I know that when I over indulge the joy doesn’t last forever. I am not talking about joy being replaced by guilt. I mean that there does come a point at which my body starts to crave some of the nutrients it is clearly not getting from the endless binging. This year, rather than just going crazy and eating all the food in sight, I am going to try a mindful approach to eating. Not restrict or deprive, but be more conscious with eating. As opposed to my usual Christmas default mode of endless grazing, even when I am not hungry or even aware I am doing it.
The alerts on my phone can wait. Although I think ill have to turn off notifications as it drives me mad seeing all those red dots on each of my apps when I look at my phone! But, they can wait. I think this is probably going to be quite a hard one for me as I am so used to managing my business from my phone. I always try and reply instantly to things, more so that I know I will forget. But if I leave it unread, I won’t forget.
Most of us will at some point feel the need to document every little moment eg when the kids open their gifts, the gorgeous Christmas table settings etc. Yes the are all totally worth remembering and sharing with others. But sometimes I feel we get sucked into the online social world and pulled out of the moment. We want to capture everything and yes having this memory saved in a photo is great. However, this Christmas, I am going to consciously choose to enjoy some moments just for me rather than capturing for the gram (or anyone else)! We can be so busy capturing the moment that we actually miss out on living it!
Pause and be present
If you’re like me, someone who has a tendency to take on far too much and say yes to everything. It is easy to get caught up in being productive rather than being present during the holidays. This Christmas, I am going to go back to basics and play some good old board games that involve a human connection. No technology. Well for a few hours anyway. All of us present in the moment spending time together and having fun. Its actually one of the highlights of 2020 for my kids. When they look back on the pandemic lockdowns they tell us that they loved having time to be present, just the 4 of us playing games, without the pressures of having to be somewhere.