In the lead-up to Christmas it can be easy to get swept up in the momentum of the silly season, and neglect our own needs for self-care. But it is also a powerful time of year to form new habits. If you can commit to your health and wellbeing in early December, instead of waiting until 1 January to make new resolutions, you will have a much better chance of following through with them throughout the next year. This may be harder initially, since you are working against the busyness of the season, and the temptations of party food and drink, but you can make a strong statement to yourself if you are able to say no to the business, and say yes to slowing down, being present with yourself and honouring your needs, when everyone else is running around like a headless chook. Saying no to busyness now will make It much easier to say no in 2018, because you’ll have already made it through the most challenging part of the year.
We all tend to be over-committed in December, so it’s important to know that you can say no. You don’t have to go to every Christmas party and school function. Tune into your body regularly and ask yourself:
“What do I need?”
“Do I need more rest?”
“Do I need a break from party food and alcohol?”
“Do I need a quiet night in by myself?”
“Do I need to take a mental health day and go to the beach?”
When deciding which of your commitments to cull, ask yourself: “Is this going to energise me or deplete me?” Focus on events that you will truly enjoy, where you can relax and be present. If you decide to skip something, don’t feel bad, you are taking good care of yourself, which should be your number one priority. And don’t feel you need to make up excuses for your absence. Try being honest: “I have realised that I have too much going on at the moment, and I need to take better care of myself by not over-committing.” By being honest about your self-care you are performing a public service: you will be giving others permission to say no and slow down as well. In this way you will be contributing to the self-care revolution!
We are having a scorcher of a summer already, so hydration is going to be more important than ever. Self-care is mostly about the basics, like good food, enough sleep and hydration. You might be getting dehydrated overnight, so make sure you drink extra water when you wake up, and throughout the day. Aside from the heat, two things that can affect your hydration are caffeine and alcohol.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means that it draws water out from your cells. For every cup of tea/coffee/cola you drink, try having an extra glass of water or herbal tea. If you’re relying on caffeine for energy, it’s a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard and you need more rest and better nutrition. Try a green juice or smoothie instead – giving your cells deep nutrition, rather than a temporary, superficial buzz. Caffeine too late in the day can affect the quality of your sleep. With many people already struggling to sleep in the heat, you don’t need anything making it harder for you to sleep. Even a bit of chocolate after dinner can be enough to subtly disrupt your sleep.
If you are going to drink this holiday season, remember that alcohol affects your body more when you are hot, so bear that in mind when you are deciding how much to drink. Make sure you eat plenty of food before you start drinking. And always alternate each alcoholic beverage with a water or non-alcoholic drink. Sweeter drinks, such as wine, beer, cider, and cocktails are so easy to drink that you can lose track of how fast you are drinking them. Sweeter drinks are also more likely to lead to extra sugar cravings. If you are drinking, try choosing clear spirits such as vodka and gin with soda water and a twist of lime, as this is a much easier drink for your body to process.
A lot of traditional holiday foods are inherited from the Northern hemisphere, where it is winter and everyone is covered up under jackets and jumpers, which is unfair to us down under. We in the Southern Hemisphere are caught in a conundrum where we are expected to be able to party every day for a month, yet still look fit and healthy on the beach. This is impossible, so don’t beat yourself up trying. Focus on health and happiness, not superficial perfection. Depriving yourself and then binging on sweets and alcohol will leave you depressed and self-loathing.
If you are going to a party, try filling up on something healthy at home before you go out. Focus on foods that are high in protein, good fats and healthy carbs, so that you are less likely to crave sweets at the party.
Finally, the holidays can be a stressful time emotionally, I am always busiest on the last Friday before Christmas – helping clients who are anxious about spending time with their extended families. Now is a good time to get counselling and body work to help prepare yourself physically and emotionally for any potentially stressful events in the coming weeks. Spending some time visualising and processing your emotions now, can make a big difference in your ability to navigate family functions and events that might otherwise cause anxiety.
I’m launching my book called: Invisible Work: An Ex-Lawyer’s Guide to Self-Care on 12 December in Fitzroy North, if you’d like to come along book your free tickets here. I promise there will only be healthy food, and no alcohol, but please don’t come if you’re already too busy!
If you’d like to be notified when the book is available to purchase online as an e-book or paperback, please sign up here.
By Annie McCasland-Pexton ~ Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist