One of the craziest things when it comes to celebrating Christmas is the amount of self-sabotage that takes place! In the name of making merry and embracing the silly season, so many of us over do it, get run down, stressed and burnt out. Sometimes so much so that by the time Christmas and the holidays arrive we're battling a cold or the flu and the celebrations are ruined. There have been many Christmases in the past when I felt lousy and regretted not taking better care of myself on the build up to the holidays. In more recent years I've become more mindful of my energy levels, what I say yes to, (and what I politely decline). I've adapted The Ultimate Self-Care Tool Kit so I feel empowered and able to embrace the festivities whilst striking the perfect balance of fun and wellbeing.
The first thing we cover in The Ultimate Self-Care Tool Kit is REST. It's so important to remember that we all need plenty of rest at the best of times and our hectic, non-stop lives don't always make this easy. By the end of a busy year (not to mention the stress of the pandemic and living in uncertain times for such an extended period), we need to factor in MORE rest rather than less. The challenge is, December can be one of the busiest months of the year. So how can you ensure you get optimum rest and still get to enjoy the festivities?
We need to look at REST in terms of 1) managing our stress levels, so we're not pushing our adrenals to the limit (and feeling unnecessarily stressed and anxious) and 2) getting adequate and quality sleep. When our nervous system spends ample time in the "Rest & Digest" state our minds and bodies operate at optimum. If we spend too much time in "Flight & Flight" which is a common problem in our busy lives, we compromise all our systems including immunity, sleep and hormone regulation, digestion, respiratory. This is when we start to feel exhausted, frazzled and burnt out (and when chronic disease can develop).
Here are some of my top tips for REST during the festive period:
CREATE A MINDSET SHIFT: Remember that if you really want to enjoy the festivities to the max, you'll want all the energy you can get (along with a strong immune system and limited stress). Starting December feeling exhausted because you're already behind on sleep and overwhelmed because your to-do list and social calendar is out of control, is a recipe for disaster. You're already setting yourself up for festive burnout! So instead, start by giving yourself permission to factor in plenty of downtime.
IT'S OK TO SAY NO: If you keep saying yes to everything you're going to end up in Fight & Flight mode and if you need to burn the midnight oil to fit it all in your sleep is going to suffer which in turn has knock on effects. So press pause now! Look at your schedule and start factoring in ample REST time - that means plenty of breaks to prevent stress build ups, and plenty of nights in for a good nights sleep in between nights out. This probably means you have to say no sometimes - something you may not be used to doing, and may even feel really uncomfortable doing (hence the self-sabotage). But if you can master this tactic, you're a step closer to creating meaningful boundaries and well on your way to prioritising self-care. Have think about which invites you need to decline, both in and out of work. From a work perspective, ask yourself - what are the crucial things to get done this side of Christmas? Prioritise these (schedule time in your calendar), and say no (for now at least) to any other projects that will simply be a distraction. Outside of work, ask yourself - which social events are most meaningful to you and allow you to spread the festive fun throughout throughout the month? These are the ones you commit to so you get the most out of them without overdoing it or feeling resentful that you're exhausted by the time you get to the meaningful events - like Christmas itself!
SET MEANINGFUL INTENTIONS: If there is an event you really want to go to but you're not feeling 100%, set an intention to go, enjoy yourself but to limit your alcohol intake. (maybe ditch the alcohol completely), and get home for a good night's sleep. Keep reminding yourself of your intention and if you have a wobble ask yourself how you will you feel tomorrow if you stick to the plan and what the impact will be if you don't. Not every night has to be an over-indulgence for you to enjoy it, in fact sometimes it's quite the opposite especially when you look at the big picture and what brings you happiness and wellbeing more broadly.
With a good REST strategy and the relevant tools and tactics in place you will have ample energy to enjoy this festive period without crashing out at the end.
If you'd like to learn more about the nervous system you can access Lesson One in the REST module of The Ultimate Self-Care Tool Kit course here