-By Elaine Collins, Clinical Director Brain Training Australia
Christmas is a great opportunity to surround yourself with friends and family, but not everyone has that luxury, and most become fatigued and stressed by it. It can be hard to keep up with festive commitments, and often, we push ourselves into discomfort and stress to do more when we should be resting and recovering from a busy year.
Thankfully, there are ways to manage your stress and navigate the festive season – below, I have highlighted some easy wins.
As we approach Christmas, we often draw a line in the sand and take stock of where we are at as we face a new year. It can be an excellent time to review the year, look at where you’re at and see what you would like to come into your life in 2023.
Some people do this through goal setting or New Year’s resolutions. Still, we must remember that while Christmas can be an excellent time to get into this mindset, many don’t enjoy Christmas as much as others for whatever reason or the soon-approaching new year. For many, the Christmas holiday 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. With this in mind, I’ve put together my Top 10 self-care strategies to look after yourself this Christmas, focusing on things you CAN control.
- Eat well. Poor food choices can negatively impact your mood. Good food makes for a 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 through this holiday period.
- Surround yourself with people whose company you enjoy.
- Make a plan for Christmas Day – avoid feeling depressed, sad, lonely or anxious. Could you do something to mark the day? Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s a time to care for yourself or others if you have space. Makeup with someone for breakfast, so you can go to the beach or have a nice walk for the rest of the day.
- 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 can be small; you do not have to buy it. Just gift yourself something that makes you feel good.
- Invite others to spend time with you who may have no one to spend the holidays with. If you can reach out and be kind to someone this Christmas, it can make you feel equally as good. Alternatively, join a group of people in a similar circumstance to you. Find the strength to reach out to others, as many may feel too isolated, lonely or sad to reach out.
- Find out what might be happening in your local area and get involved, i.e. Christmas carols, Christmas markets, school plays, and neighbourhood Christmas lights.
- Neighbours – if you are an extrovert like me, you will reach out to your neighbours by text message or a note on their door and organise a Neighbourhood catch up
- Volunteering can be an excellent way to connect with and support others who are less fortunate during this time. It can help you to feel good about your situation and practice gratitude for your life if you’re wondering where to start with this one thing, soup kitchens, children hospitals or nursing homes.
- Be kind to yourself and others. Kindness is also linked to generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, selfless love and nice-ness. Service consists of doing favours and good deeds for others without expecting a 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
- 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 set aside the self-destructive negativity associated with anger and to extend mercy toward a transgressor. It’s time to let go if you feel you can and start the new year with a fresh mindset. READ MORE
Now that is only my top ten – there are lots more but if you can focus on those its a great start. A bonus self-care strategy includes setting healthy boundaries for maintaing healthy relationships with friends, family, partners and loved ones. When people get together, there is such a mix of different personalities, values and beliefs at play that it is hard to balance interpersonal relations and communication to keep things in a happy and fun place.
If you can implement some or any of the above, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of getting through this holiday period enjoyably. 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 head out of a negative head space that’s been holding you back. Healthy boundaries can be difficult to implement, and often require psychological assistance to guide you through the process, to avoid your boundaries feeling like an electric fence to others and avoid you feeling stressed in implementing them.
A new year brings new opportunities, so start on the right foot by bringing a clear, healthy mindset into your life.
From our family to yours, have a nice break and may 2023 only bring good things for us all.
Yours in wellness,
Elaine Collins, MSc, BSc (Hons) Psych.,
Brain Training Australia
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