Twelve Days of Christmas Calm

Hello. In this post I’m going to share some simple ideas that can help you to feel your best this Christmas and enjoy the season in whatever way is right for you.

For lots of people this can be a very hectic and sometimes stressful time of the year as we juggle shopping and Christmas preparations alongside our usual jobs and caring responsibilities. Additionally, after nearly two years of dealing with Covid and now more uncertainty about the new variant and what impact that may have, it’s no wonder that anxiety levels generally are high.

So here are my top 12 tips for Christmas Calm:

    1. Keep to a routine (especially with sleep)
      Routine is the first thing that goes out of the window once December arrives, whether its our sleep, food or exercise. While it’s good to have a bit of variety and fun, lots of people find that they struggle when their routine goes haywire – with sleep and mood particularly affected. Try to stick to a schedule as much as possible, even though it’s different to normal. Routine is especially important for sleep, so try to stick to the same going to bed and waking up times – that way it will be easier to return to normal in the new year.
    2. Pace yourself
      For a lot of us Christmas ends up being a rush of shopping, visiting and cooking. Try pacing what you need to do, rather than trying to squeeze everything in all at once. Set yourself small tasks each day and rest in between them. That way, if a winter bug or bad weather gets in the way, it’s easy to reschedule one thing rather than panic you’ve got nothing done.
    3. Do something nice for someone else
      Even a simple gesture such as helping someone with their shopping bags, letting them have a parking space or stopping for a smile and a hello will boost your well-being as much as theirs.
    4. Pay attention
      Often we can be so focused on our to-do lists that we forget to pay attention to what is happening now. Bring yourself back to the present by noticing your surroundings – the temperature of the air on your skin, the softness of your scarf or jumper, the sound of children playing, the scent of Christmas trees, the bright colours of the season.
    5. Connect
      Christmas can be a tough time of year if you’re on your own. Talking to and interacting with the people around you when you can, may help. You could also think about accepting invitations from others, connecting with people on-line, volunteering and planning the day around what you want to do.
    6. Remember perfection is a myth
      Many of us have a perfect vision of what the holidays should look like, and are disappointed when they don’t live up to their expectations. Remember, nobody has a perfect home, a perfect holiday or a perfect family, so don’t pressure yourself to live up to unrealistic standards.
    7. Go outside
      Get some fresh air and exercise every day even if it’s just for a 15 minute stroll. It will really help to blow the cobwebs away.
    8. Escape!
      Take some time out just for yourself – read a book, soak in the bath, go for a drive, take yourself out for coffee. Take time to ‘be’ and not just ‘to do’. Whatever works for you.
    9. Ask for help
      It’s easy to feel there’s too much to organise at Christmas, or that there’s too much pressure on you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut back on what you’re trying to deliver and don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. Which leads me on to…
    10. Be kind to yourself
      Being kind has so many benefits from reducing our stress levels to boosting our self esteem and happiness. But remember to be be kind to yourself too – you are also a person who needs love and care to thrive.
    11. Reflect positively on the year
      Take the time to think about all the things that went well for you this year and reflect on positive decisions you made and achievements you had. It is all too easy to dwell on the negatives in life, so remind yourself of all the good choices and things that have happened to you and your loved ones in 2021.
    12. Be grateful
      Take the time to appreciate what you have in life, be it good health, a place to live, or food on the table. Having gratitude will also help you to move past anxiety, as you learn to live in the present moment and be mindful of your surroundings. One way to practice gratitude is to write down three things you are grateful for at the end of each day on this day.

If you’re struggling

For some people Christmas isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re coping with pain or illness, are experiencing grief or a sense of loss, are lonely, anxious and low, please don’t struggle on your own. Be kind to yourself, do only what feels right for you and remember that there are people you can talk to and who can help.

There are some really good contacts here.
Useful contacts – Christmas and mental health | Mind, the mental health charity – help for mental health problems

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