It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also one of the more stressful, busy and exhausting times of year for many too. Whether it’s kids that have you running around feeling like a headless chicken, you’re wrapping things up at work, you’ve got a diary filled with social occasions, or all of the above, it can be wonderful but also quite a challenging time. Not to mention the current climate and cost of living crisis! So keep reading to find practical ways of protecting your wellbeing this Christmas.
While the festivities get under way we’ve got a lot to think about, gifts, guests, parties, work to be finished, budgets to adjust and re-adjust, alongside all our usual day-to-day activities. It’s not surprising that many of us feel overwhelmed, stressed out and frazzled this time of year. But feeling this way can make all those things to think that much harder, and to actually get done a whole lot more stressful.
Managing this stress would make a lot of the things to think about and do much easier to get done. But when we’re busy, stress is building and there’s lots to do, we often forget about our wellbeing, or worry about it later - putting healthy habits off til January when things have calmed down and our resolutions are underway.
Of course, even with the best intentions to protect our wellbeing we’ll still experience stress and exhaustion, but it’s all part of the fun, right? Well it probably doesn’t feel like fun if we’re overwhelmed, overly stressed and overly tired. But when we maintain our wellbeing, even with some indulgence, we tend to find that challenges and difficult times are much easier to manage, when the kids throw tantrums, the last toy on the list is sold out, we forgot about secret santa at work, or the relatives show up 2 days early.
So here are our top tips on protecting your wellbeing this festive season:
We know that a nutritional diet helps us focus, gives us energy, regulates our mood and even benefits our sleep, so while the mince pies, chocolates and booze are passed around and encouraged, find balance with nutrient-rich meals in between. There’s no need for restriction, it’s Christmas after all, but we might consider a non-alcoholic option in between the many mulled wines, or a veg-packed dinner before we hit the chocolate stash. It might even be ensuring we get a good chance to rest after an evening out where our sleep isn’t as restorative as we’d like.
Many of us envision the perfect Christmas, filled with love and laughter - and then it arrives, or the build up begins and there’s arguments, tears and grumpy grandads. And we feel disappointed, sometimes enough to feel like the whole day is ruined. But when we expect and accept that things won’t be perfect, we give ourselves chance to notice the laughter between huffs and puffs, the silence as we dig in to dinner (always a good sign) even though there’s not enough pig in blankets or the carrots aren’t quite cooked, and the highs around the lows. It’s almost inevitable, so do yourself a favour and accept it doesn’t have to be the most wonderful time at every waking moment.
Prioritise YOUR Christmas
We’ve all got different ways of doing things, traditions, and beliefs around christmas time. But we live in an age where we can access so many other versions and ideas that can lead us to questioning our own and even wishing for things to be different just because we’ve seen someone else do it, not because we truly want too. Take some time this season to really think about what you like doing, what you want for your Christmas (not from Santa), and work on aligning your beliefs with outcomes. Don’t like the faff of decorating and putting away a tree, sack it off save yourself the energy and stress. Want to eat anything but turkey, change it up. Feeling frugal so limiting gifts, do what works for you. Be mindful of how much time you spend on social media too, it can quickly become mindless scrolling and absorbing all the information of others doing things differently, celebrity’s lavish celebrations and FOMO.
Rest and recuperate
While the calendars fill with events, from office parties to school nativities, visiting relatives to Christmas shopping, it’s important to find some time to rest. Actually the festive period can be a restorative one. It might sound contradictory with lots of plans and planning to be done, but it’s also a time with no school, a few days off work, with darker days and colder weather, we might find it easier to slow down - we just might have to plan for some time to do that too. Take a nap with the dog after a big dinner, get outside for long (or short) refreshing walks, really switch off from work, let the teens sleep till noon and don’t worry about being in your pjs at 3pm, because who cares? It’s Christmas.
Keep some usual routine
The festive period can wreak havoc on our usual day-to-day lives, and for some of us this can be the most stressful thing about it, or at least one of them. Routine can bring us normalcy, a sense of control when things are a bit all over the place, and something to fall back on when we’re overwhelmed. While the chaos can be fun, maintaining some routine can help us manage the chaos that bit better and without it derailing our wellbeing. Stick to your morning routine before going about your day, do the food shop as usual, or take the dog out as usual. You might even create some habits to form a routine, like afternoon movies, lunchtime strolls or doing the dishes from dinner in the morning.
Festive wellbeing: of course this time of year is never without it’s downs, and after the last few years - where things have been different, a whole lot more stressful, and a much harder time in general - practice self-compassion and let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling. Protect your wellbeing where you can, accept that there will be some lows, and make time to be present with the highs. And try to enjoy the chaos Christmas can bring, it’ll be over before we know it.