The Festive Season is upon us. For some it evokes feelings of excitement, for others, dread.
Generally for most people this time of year, they will either do one of two things:
1) Be festive and merry for the entire month of December, attend a stream of parties and events, shmooze with clients and just generally indulge in a little too much good food and wine. The diet goes out the window and exercise becomes non-existent. But hey, you have fun while doing it, right?
2) Run around like a madwoman trying to tick off items from a seemingly never-ending to-do-list, and just basically try to keep your head above water. Your life becomes an endless stream of events and after-school activities to attend, mouths to feed, presents to buy, work functions to attend, the list goes on. The anxiety levels rise, stress takes over and it becomes a time of year that fills you with dread.
Regardless of where you sit, the common factor across both scenarios, is a lack of self-care, be it mentally or physically. For some reason, many of us neglect to look after ourselves at this time of the year. December gets treated differently to every other month. So, here are some of my top tips to help you keep your sanity (and your figure) this Christmas:
Everything in moderation
It’s hard to resist the delicious oven-roasted turkey at Christmas with all the drippings, the chocolate covered almonds, and all the free booze at work Christmas parties. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to go without.
My philosophy is not to deny yourself the things in life you enjoy, just do it in moderation. make smarter choices, while still having your fun.
Have a cheat day, but eat healthy the next day, or get outdoors and go for a run or a walk to counteract the heavy food you ate – it will make you feel so much more refreshed and give you a much needed energy boost. It does wonders for the mental clarity too.
Or, try and give mindful eating a go. Rather than shoving everything in your mouth quickly, pick the foods you will most enjoy, take slow bites and savour them. Think about what you’re eating, while you’re eating it. Think about the taste, texture and how it makes you feel. You may laugh, but I guarantee you will enjoy the food more, and in the process, eat less of it!
If this time of the year stresses you out and gives you anxiety from all of the things that you have to do – prioritise. You can’t be in five places at once, or run yourself ragged for the sake of others, so pick the events, activities or things on your list that are most important to you and your family, and forget about the rest.
Write down the “must-do” versus “nice to have'” and you will soon find your never-ending to-do list may not actually be as big as you thought!
If you’re stressed out from all the presents you think HAVE to buy your kids, remember that at the end of the day, all they want is your company and to play with you. They won’t know that they don’t have the latest Polly Pocket or Spiderman toy. Spending quality time with you is gold in their eyes.
If you’ve got all these after-school events and parties to attend to (whether work-related or kid related) and it’s making you anxious, just pick the top two that are the most important to you, and go to them. You don’t have to attend everything you’re invited to, especially if it increases your anxiety levels – it’s just not worth it. You’ll find that when you focus on what’s important to you, you will be more present at those special occasions and enjoy them more, rather than mindlessly ”being” there to tick a box, with your thoughts already on the next event you have to go to and how you’re going to get there in time.
Practice being grateful
While this may sound like a really simple thing to do, it can do wonders for your mental clarity and your stress levels. It’s a great way to practice a bit of self-care, especially during such a busy time of the year and can help you to get out of your own mind and find a bit of peace.
As adults, we tend to think about the negative aspects of our lives – i.e. how busy AND stressed we are. but what if you FOCUSED on THE THINGS you are grateful for instead?
For example: being stressed out about all the food you have to cook for Christmas lunch and not having enough time to do it, turns into: “I am grateful that I have wonderful family and friends that I get to spend time with over Christmas, who will appreciate my company more than the food I put in front of them.”
Worrying about all the presents you have to buy your kids and all their Christmas concerts you have to attend becomes: “I am grateful that I have wonderful children that make me smile everyday and who I can be there for during the special moments in their life.”
Feeling down about all the overindulging you have done, becomes: “I am grateful for my health and that tomorrow is another day to start again.”
Stressing about all the parties you have to attend, can become: “I am grateful for new experiences and the chance to meet new people.”
Try it for yourself and see what a difference it will make to how you approach things this Festive Season.