If you’re like me, you’re probably looking forward to the festive break and a chance to get some downtime. But, according to a 2019 YouGov report, Christmas can be a difficult time for Brits with about one in four struggling with anxiety or depression. 40% admit that they have felt stressed during the festive season. In this blog, I’ll share eight self-care tips for enjoying the festive season and being stress-free Christmas.
We know that Christmas is going to be different this year. We are likely to be in smaller family groups and be unable to travel to see our loved ones. On top of the enormous stress and uncertainty this year, Christmas can bring even more anxiety. You may take on different roles such as still having to work, prepare meals and host your family, entertain the children and more.
Naturally, we want to make things perfect for everyone at Christmas, but it could mean that we don’t get a break ourselves. We end up more exhausted after Christmas than we were before. But this doesn’t need to be the case.
1. It’s okay for Christmas to be different
A “normal” Christmas season can be overwhelming, never mind Christmas in a year like this. Do something that is less stressful and does not feel like too much. You can make a big turkey with all the trimmings if you want to, but also know that it’s ok to do something different.
2. Share the load over the holidays
Ask the people around you for help and don’t feel like you have to do it all yourself. For instance, ask another family member to make the starter or the dessert while you focus on the main course or vice versa.
3. Find what works for you
If you are a business owner or you have a job that doesn’t really stop over Christmas, it can be difficult to find a balance. Find out what works for you. You could:
a. Not look at your email at all over Christmas and/or delegate to someone else in your business (if you can)
b. Schedule 15 minutes a day to read and respond to emails
These are a few examples but remember that as a leader, you must be a role model for whatever you put in place. If you start replying to emails over the Christmas break, your team will feel like they must do the same. Use the ‘Send Later’ functionality, unless it’s an emergency. Your team will have the time off without feeling that they need to be checking in. (This is also something worth doing during the rest of the year outside working hours)
4. Permit yourself to be imperfect
This is a big one that I have to listen to! Christmas doesn’t need to be perfect in any year, let alone this year. It’s okay for the house not to be clean every day, for instance. Have a proper rest. So many of us have had a busy and stressful year. It’s okay not to be perfect and leave some things or let others help.
5. Schedule time to apply self-care tips
I’m not great at this. I need to schedule things into my diary to devote the time to take care of me. For example, I have lunch and exercise scheduled in my diary to make sure that I do it. Some self-care tips that you might schedule in are:
a. Going out for a walk
b. Taking a bath
c. Doing some meditation
d. Taking a yoga class
6. Talk to someone you trust
If you are feeling stressed, down, overwhelmed or worried, talk to someone that you trust. There are a few other options for places to contact if you’re struggling. Samaritans offer a fantastic service that you can access here. The NHS also provide a list of charities and mental health helplines. Should you ever need it, please do not hesitate to use it.
7. Help others as a key to finding joy
According to a 2010 article in Greater Good Magazine, there’s evidence that responding to pain with compassion, care, and generosity is key to a joyful life.
Help out a lonely neighbour or relative who might be alone. As well as providing them with support, research also shows that when we are kind to others we also benefit. This phenomenon is often referred to as ‘The Helper’s High’.
8. Take stock of what there is to celebrate
Now is a great time to take stock of the year. Reflect on what went well personally and professionally. Here are some ideas that you could use as a starting point as you take stock:
a. What are you grateful for?
b. What amazing things happened?
c. Celebrate the good things that happened during the year. For instance, did it bring your family closer? Did you find new love? Has your business survived a tough time?
Then it’s time to think about next year and what you’d like to achieve. I, for one, want to get better at going outdoors for my exercise. I’ve enjoyed doing more of it this year and I want to continue that into the new year.
What have you learned from this year? How can you use that to make next year even better?
If you’d like to find out more about how I can help you develop further as a leader, get in touch on 07980 838945 or email me at email@example.com. Also, our Heart-Centred Leaders Community is an opportunity to develop with like-minded leaders – find out more here.