It’s a week to go till Christmas day and the to-do lists are overflowing. Overwhelm and panic are setting in and the ability to enjoy the true message of Christmas seems like a distant memory.
Let’s be completely honest as a society we have completely ruined the heart of Christmas. It’s nothing new, but more noticeable in my 30s and the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. When you are having to think about paying the bills or paying out for all the expenses expected at Christmas, it puts into perspective all the demands Christmas can bring. The pressure capitalism brings at this time of year can make you feel like you are drowning.
It’s not just the financial pressure, it is also the expectation to be everywhere at once. As work pressure increases, as everyone is expected to do extra, we are also expected to have social engagements with everyone we know. Then if you have kids, there are the nativity services, the Christmas parties, the fairs, visiting Santa, winter wonderlands……it goes on and on and on. The pressure to do everything, and being a terrible person if you miss out, is intense.
Winter is a time of restorative healing
Like many animals, at this time of year, our bodies want to slow down for the Winter. Humans aren’t an exception. We are more susceptible to disease, food doesn’t grow as well, and the days are short, dark and cold; all of the signs are there for us to slow down. Winter is our restorative time. After spending Autumn retrieving our harvest, Winter should be our time to bunker down and focus on slow gentle self-care.
Modern humans have completely lost the point in Winter. Instead, we become a slave to the capitalist system more than ever. Creating more stress and dis-ease than ever!
I know your to-do list is already too long. So I don’t wish to add to that with a list of well-being tips. Instead, I want to help you do the complete opposite. The best way you can support your well-being this Christmas and throughout the rest of winter is by using these techniques to do less!
Revise your to-do list – be brutal
If you haven’t put pen to paper and written down your to-do list do it now. It might feel intimidating seeing it all written down but trust the process. Now I want you to be honest with yourself about what can go. Start crossing stuff off, be brutal. Keep in mind that none of this stuff is going to be enjoyable if you are stressed. Consider the following
- What can be put off till after Christmas?
- What do you enjoy and what do you do because of outside pressure?
- Do you have the time, energy or funds for this?
Schedule time for nothing
If you are big on schedules write regular times (every day if you can) when you do nothing. I don’t mean an hour of staring at your phone, you have to allow yourself to switch off. This could be a meditation, or even reading a book with a cosy drink, going for a walk in a favourite place or playing with toys with your kids. Whatever it is, it has to be something you know helps your clear your mind of stress, switch off from the world and recharge. Christmas is such a busy time, if you don’t let yourself switch off you will burn out. Let’s face it a burnt-out person isn’t very pleasant to be around.
Turn off your phone
You can do this during your switch-off time, for a whole afternoon, but it is a must at night. The amount of time I have been woken up already this Christmas season with people trying to plan Christmas things is beyond. Now my phone is turned off every night. We need to rest extra over winter for our bodies to function properly, not everyone will understand that, but turning your phone offsets that boundary.
This isn’t just about the distraction of other people. Phones are a capitalist dream, they constantly scream for our attention, and a lot of that attention is taken up by adverts screaming ‘buy me buy me’. It’s exhausting. Looking at our phones all day has a wearing effect on the aspects of our well-being. Even affecting us physically by causing damage to our eyes and hands. Allowing ourselves time away is much needed to help ourselves with the restorative healing we need over winter.
Learn to say no
The best way to curb overwhelm is to set firm boundaries. This is so much easier than done though isn’t it? When you are used to saying yes to everything it can be a very difficult skill to say no. But that is what it is a skill, and all skills need to be practised. I find this is where the to-do list revision helps. It lets you work out priorities, which in turn helps you see when you just need to say no. You are never a bad person for needing to say no, but to avoid causing someone else stresses, try to give plenty of warning.
Find a dedicated calm space
Do you have a place that makes you feel instantly calm? As if all the worries of the world just wash away? For me, it’s our local wetland sanctuary. I can’t even explain why, but there is something about being surrounded by so much water and peaceful animals. Whatever it is, it even passes on to my children who become so much calmer there too. If you are not sure where your place is try to make a list of possibilities. I find it helps to be out of the house and away from responsibilities. I can’t relax thinking I should be doing chores.
With yourself and others. Be honest about your emotions, your health and your current capabilities. Lying about being ok when you are not will have people putting pressure on you that you simply cannot handle. In turn, you will start to resent them. It is not fair to anyone.
Create a budget. Work out how many activities you can do. Think about how much food you can fit in your oven/have time to prep. Be realistic about what you can do, set limits and stick to them. Setting your limits and communicating them clearly to those around you will save having too many demands on you later on.
Cut back on stimulants
Caffeine, sugar, white lights, loud noises. Christmas is full of mental and physical stimulants to set our brains on overdrive. If you feel like your brain is all over the place, and can’t focus on one thing, overstimulation might be part of the cause. Minimise stimulating foods, and allow your brain time to slow down and recharge.
Make Christmas wellbeing your focus every year.
A final note, being so close to Christmas, you may be struggling to implement all of these techniques, and wishing you had started a more minimal Christmas from the beginning. Although you can re-write the last few weeks of stress you can set your intention for next year. While your lessons for this year are still fresh in your mind for the coming few weeks, don’t shy away from some forward planning. Write down your favourite thing from this year and the things that were so stressful they just weren’t worth it. Create a savings account to help budget, and save throughout the year rather than an end-of-year panic. Write down the presents that were appreciated, and those that were. not. Label your decorations as you pack them away and dispose of those that just aren’t worth the effort, broken or not truly loved.
These little steps of planning now will be your saving grace next year. Above all of this, I want you to remember you don’t need to give in to any of the pressures of Christmas. You need to heal.
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Please be aware all information in this blog is based on my own personal experience and research, and I am not a medical professional. If you are needing advice about a medical condition, please seek advice from a medical professional.