We're taking some time out to consider how we can look after ourselves amid the stresses of the festive season, so we're delighted to bring you some excellent advice on this very subject from Leah Larwood. Wellbeing writer, clinical hypnotherapist and founder of The Moon Lab, Leah runs workshops in poetry therapy and lucid dreaming to support wellbeing. She says,
Although a certain amount of Christmas stress can be exciting and motivating in a positive way, it can often teeter into what feels like the unhelpful kind of stress, when things begin to feel like too much. It can sometimes be helpful to pause before we get caught up in the mania, to sit back and make a few conscious decisions in hope of improving our chances of a calmer, more intentional Christmas.
The first stage in supporting our wellbeing around the festive period is about noticing our expectations. This might take some practise, so remember to be kind to yourself, but through lowering our expectations, and dropping perfectionism or comparisons, we can start to experience Christmas in a more true and mindful way.
It helps to notice and bring awareness to our hopes for Christmas by taking a moment to consider whether we might be operating on ‘auto pilot’. Sometimes we can go along with things just out of habit, because it’s always been done that way. But is it really the best way for you? Here are just three ideas on how you can support your wellbeing before and during the festivities this year:
Consider reflecting on your hopes for Christmas. Writing down your values, needs and desires for the season ahead at the start of a journal is a helpful way to keep a record of how you wish to approach Christmas. Journaling daily or as and when you need to about your Christmas can be an helpful way to bring awareness and to stay intentional.
Set watertight boundaries: Reflect on what you need from your Christmas and share some of your hopes with loved ones and be open and clear about your choices with others, as and when it feels appropriate. Make a list of all of the possible situations where you may feel tested or influenced away from what feels right for you. Be firm and clear on what you need and if others don’t respect your boundaries, gently pull them up on it. Always stick to what feels right for you.
Make sure there’s time for you amid the busyness. Make space for many, many micro moments of pleasure, relaxation and fun for you. It’s not selfish, it’s essential. Have a good soak in a candle-lit bath, plan activities that will replenish your energy levels, go slow when you can, take naps, book a massage, curl up with a good book and some Booja (make sure you have a box tucked away just for you). Take time that is just for you each day, and every week, during the build-up, until it becomes a habit.
Managing our stress at Christmas time just takes a little self-awareness, noticing our expectations, being clear with others on how we are approaching Christmas this year, a little planning, some boundaries - and having a couple of relaxation tools up your sleeve for when you need them. Most importantly, we might sometimes need to re-evaluate how much we are taking on and whether we need to ditch a few ‘shoulds’. Another way to think about self-care at Christmas time is as though you’re giving yourself a gift, so that you can be your best emotionally and physically, in how you engage with others and as a way to improve the quality of your festivities.
To hear more from Leah, check out @MeetTheMoonLab on Instagram