Work may be winding down but those “to do” lists are building up. For many of us the festive whirlwind will be in full flow. We ask, how do we stay calm amid the chaos? How do we make sure we make the most of our family time and take stock of what is most important?
As we discovered last year, there are Christmas Traditions from around the world, from the weird to the wonderful, that take over our lives; whether we are religious or not, Christmas-obsessed or scrooges. It’s crazy when you think about how much pressure is put onto just a couple of days of the year. We may be sticklers for tradition, or we may choose to do our own thing, but however we choose to spend the break (if we are lucky enough to have time off from work) it’s important to stay mindful and make the most of this precious time.
Whether we have huge extended families or not, Christmas is a time for celebrating loved ones and looking back over the past year. There will be frivolity and happiness. Yet with the pressure of it all, the build up and its intensity, sometimes an element of anxiety may creep in. Everybody’s fun and partying is plastered over social media - do we have to keep up with this? However many people we are surrounded by, we may remember loved ones we have lost, our relationships may not be secure, and we may suffer from that taboo of loneliness. We want to say - there really is no shame in this. You can acknowledge any worries you may have and look beyond them, using the Christmas break to take some time for you, as well as everyone around you.
We’ve rounded up a couple of thoughts on how to make the most of this break with your loved ones, stress-free and feeling great! Make sure you take stock of everything you have achieved and don’t feel guilty for taking time out - you have earned this.
For us it’s rare to have the time to actually create something from scratch for ourselves, especially with our families or loved ones. Isn’t there something intrinsically festive about it? Heartwarming and fun, why not pick an activity that everyone in your household can get involved with. Our favourites? A gingerbread house making competition, wreath-making, or baking home-made mince pies. If this seems a bit too much, an easy way to get in the creative spirit is simply taking time over your wrapping. Invest in gorgeous paper, ribbons, string, bows, decorations - it’ll give you the time to breath, reflect and put your energy into creating something beautiful for someone else. Therapeutic and rewarding at the same time.
It’s been scientifically proven that singing has a positive psychological effect on us, releasing endorphins that make our brains feel good! As an aerobic activity that encourages us to breathe deeper, it allows more oxygen into our blood streams, improving circulation and boosting our moods. So this Christmas be sure to have a sing-a-long! If you love tradition, you may choose to go to a Christmas carol concert. You might blast out the classic hits while prepping your Christmas lunch. For some of us, however, the thought of another Maria Carey “All I Want For Christmas Is You” may make us wince. If this is the case for you, why not do something different this year. I’m planning on finding out which iconic albums are most important to each member of my family; a chance to educate and share the wonderful memories that these songs can bring.
CHRISTMAS EVE FEASTING
Presents are wrapped, Christmas dinner is getting prepped, excitement is building - it can be tempting to indulge in a take-away on Christmas Eve. But if you’re looking for a healthier alternative, why not look to the Italian-American tradition from the Roman Catholics - The Feast of the Seven Fishes - where red meat dishes are replaced with a fish meal. Jamie Oliver has a selection of recipes for fuss-free fish suppers that are the perfect pre-Christmas fuel. Avoid feeling sluggish before the big-day and get a much needed delicious energy-boost instead that you can enjoy cooking and sharing with everyone around you.
FRESH AIR AND EXERCISE
Don't knock yourself for taking time away from your normal work-out routines. Going to the gym certainly wouldn’t be my normal Christmas procedure. But equally don’t avoid exercise altogether over the Christmas period. Festering inside may seem cosy and relaxing, but going for a little walk is sometimes all it takes to lift your mood and sense of wellbeing and you can enjoy it with the whole family.
December is full on. Fact. Wrapping up the year, making time to see as many friends as possible before the big day, Christmas partying, eating, drinking and keeping merry. By the time Christmas comes round, we’re exhausted. Is it just us or as soon as you slow down, your body starts to shut down? It’s been working on over-drive and suddenly it realises it has a chance to relax. It sounds simple - but make sure you catch up on sleep and don’t feel guilty by having a cheeky nap. You’re allowed! As we know from The Power of Sleep - we need to treat sleep as our friend, not the enemy!
Use the time at Christmas to talk. Talk to your relatives, talk to your friends (young and old) and find out stories you never knew before. There’s so much we can learn from our elders and it’s wonderful to be able to listen to their memories, share them, and cherish them too. It’s the perfect opportunity to piece together family trees and delve into your ancestry. If you can’t be with the people who mean something to you, reach out and give them a call. There really is no better time.
Christmas is a period of time typically associated with gluttony and indulgence. Should we chastise ourselves for feasting and enjoying ourselves? No! It’s Christmas after all. However, we should be mindful about our guilt and make sure we can shift the stresses of it all away from us. So if you’re not jetting off to some glamorous resort, escaping Christmas altogether, and are staying put in the UK; why not make a plan in your mind on how you’re going to make the most of your Christmas break, recuperate and go into 2019 feeling the best you possibly can.