Christmas is fast approaching, and the 2017 year is nearing a close. For many the festive season is a time of giving, spending time with loved ones, and let’s not forget the elaborate feasts! It’s all too often that we get caught up in the hype of the festive season, whether it be buying gifts, writing our seasons greetings or preparing for Santa’s arrival. We can easily forget the importance of caring for ourselves and the focus all too often becomes caring for those around us. Here are some tips for self-care this festive season:
What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is noticing and being aware of the present moment. It’s about paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and sensations in our body.
Mindfulness can be a great tool to help us identify when the pressure of the holidays is getting too much. We quickly find ourselves in the pattern of carrying on from one task to the next, and feeling as though we are running a marathon! And YES we do get things done, but at times we can be left feeling exhausted and drained. Through the process of getting caught up in the hype of the holidays, we may lose touch of the present and miss out on enjoying the moment.
Try and incorporate mindfulness this Christmas. Ask yourself “how am I feeling right now?”. Notice any tension in your body (most of us hold tension in our shoulders, upper back, neck and/or jaw). Are you feeling tired? Worn out? Is everything getting too much and leading to that sense of overwhelming doom? Or are you feeling relaxed and balanced? Unless we are in the habit of checking in with ourselves regularly, we may not notice the signs. Set a reminder on your phone to pause and check in with yourself every few hours, listen to your body. Guided mindfulness meditation can be beneficial. Smiling Mind is a free app that can help you to learn how to engage in mindfulness practices. Pay attention to your senses and notice what you can see, feel, hear, taste or smell. For example, listen to your favourite song and immerse yourself in it by paying attention to the lyrics and the music.
Remember to breathe
Focus on your breathing. When we are stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow. Practice taking slow and steady breaths by inhaling through your nose for four seconds, holding that breath for two seconds, and exhaling through the mouth for six seconds.
Just five minutes
When you notice yourself feeling overwhelmed by a situation, take five minutes away from the task at hand to engage in a relaxing activity. This can include going outside and sitting in your garden, spending time with your pet whether this means playing fetch with your pup or snuggling up on the couch with your feline fur baby, doing some gentle stretching, making a cup of tea/coffee, dancing to your favourite song, calling a friend, or watching a funny clip on YouTube. The options are endless.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and produce endorphins (mood enhancing chemicals in the brain). Going for a walk or bike ride can be a great way to escape the busyness of the holiday season and can help to clear your mind of those worries. Engaging in yoga or Pilates can help to reduce stress and manage low mood and anxiety. Or why not try something fun this festive season like ice skating or getting out those roller skates. Whatever form of exercise you engage in will be beneficial and why not have some fun with it.
Do something creative
Being creative can be enjoyable as well as relaxing. Try making your own Christmas cards or ornaments. Instead of buying gifts, you could consider DIY gifts such as mason jar brownie mix or body scrubs. Whip up a bunch of festive cookies, make a gingerbread house or some fruit mince pies.
Drink plenty of water
Water helps to keep you hydrated, increases energy levels and relieves fatigue. Challenge yourself, friends, family and co-workers to see who can drink the most water. You will have fun as well as reap the benefits.
Remember to take a pause, reflect, and engage in self-care this Christmas.
From all of us, at Your Mind Matters Psychology, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year!!!!
This blog was written by Maria Kampantais, Psychologist at Your Mind Matters.
Maria works with us 4 days per week and has both evening and day session times. To learn more about Maria, click here.