Have yourself a merry little Christmas: how to self care during the holidays

Posted 18 December

-By Elaine Corcoran, Clinical Director Brain Training Australia

I think we can all agree 2020 caught us a bit by surprise. If you look back to everyone wishing each other well for 2020, no one predicted a pandemic and such significant changes would be made in our lives. Some people thrive with change, some people survive with change and others simply struggle.

Those of you who know me, know that I am from Ireland and moved to Australia almost 10 years ago. For my and my family we would love to be heading back to Ireland to our family and friends, but this pandemic has restricted our options so we have to have a different type of Christmas. The in-congruence between what we would like to be doing and what we have to do in the current climate could cause a stress, but we have a choice – we can thrive, survive or struggle. I choose thrive – please and thank you!

As we approach Christmas, its often a time we draw a line in the sand and take stock of where we are at as we face into a new year. It can be a good time to review on the year that has been, look at where you’re at and see what you would like to come into your life in 2021. Some people do this in the form of goal setting or new years resolutions, but we must remember that while Christmas can be a good time to get into this mindset, there are many who don’t enjoy Christmas as much as others for whatever reason or the soon approaching new year. For many, the Christmas holiday period is an exciting time to connect and celebrate with loved ones but for others it can be the loneliest time of the year and quite confronting. This in mind, I’ve put together the following self care strategies to look after yourself this Christmas, focusing on things you CAN control.

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  1. Eat well. Poor food choice can negatively impact your mood. Good food makes for good mood, so choose wisely. If you are fueling your brain and body with the right foods, you will produce happy brain chemicals to get your through this holiday period.
  2. Surround yourself by people whose company you enjoy.
  3. Make a plan for Christmas Day – avoid feeling depressed, sad, lonely or anxious on the day. Do something to mark the day even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, its a time to care for yourself or others if you have space for that in your life. Make meet up with someone for breakfast so you are free for the rest of the day to maybe go to the beach or have a nice walk.
  4. Get yourself a gift. Be kind to your mind is the old phrase here. In the form of self care, get yourself something nice as a treat. It does not have to be big, in fact your do not even have to buy it. Just gift yourself something that makes you feel good.
  5. Invite others to spend time with you who may have no one to spend the holidays with. If you have capacity to reach out and be kind to someone this Christmas, it can make you feel equally as good. Alternatively join a group of people who find themselves in similar circumstance to you. Find the strength within yourself to reach out to others, as many may be feeling too isolated, lonely or sad to reach out.
  6. Find out what might be going on in your local area and get involved i.e. Christmas carols, Christmas markets, school plays, neighbourhood Christmas lights.
  7. Neighbours – if you are an extrovert like me you will reach out to your neighbours by text message or a note in their door and organise a Neighbourhood catch up
  8. Volunteering can be a really good way to connect with and support others during this time who are less fortunate, and it can help you to feel good about your own situation in life and practice gratitude for the life you have. If you’re wondering where to start with this one think soup kitchens, children hospitals or nursing homes.
  9. Be kind to yourself and others. Kindness is also linked to generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love and nice-ness.  Kindness consists of doing favours and good deeds for others without the expectation of personal gain.  This strength requires respect for others but also includes emotional affection. Kind people find joy in the act of giving and helping other people, regardless of their degree of relatedness or similarity READ MORE
  10. Forgive yourself and others who have wronged or offended you. Forgiveness entails accepting the shortcomings of others, giving people a second chance, and putting aside the temptation to hold a grudge or behave vengefully.  Forgiveness allows one to put aside the self-destructive negativity associated with anger and to extend mercy toward a transgressor. It’s really time to let go if you feel you can and start the new year with a fresh mindset READ MORE

If you feel you can implement some or any of the above, then you are giving yourself the best possible chance of getting through this holiday period in an enjoyable way. If for any reason you are struggling or feel you may not be able to do this on your own then reach out to us, we can help relieve some stress, loneliness or help get your out of a negative head space that’s been holding you back. A new year brings new opportunities, so start on the right foot by bringing a clear, healthy mindset into your life. You got this.

From my family to yours, have a nice break and may 2021 only bring good things for all of us.

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Yours in wellness,

Elaine x

Elaine Corcoran, MSc Work Psych, BSc (Hons) Psych.,

Clinical Director

Brain Training Australia