In her column this month, certified hypnotherapist and critical care nurse Sam Grainger of Free the Mind offers her very timely self-care tips for the festive season ahead
Is it really Christmas again already? It comes around more quickly each year. This year it comes at the end of a particularly challenging year there has been so much going on in the world at times it as felt like a whirlwind. We started the year very gently, steering ourselves back to normality after two crazy years of lock-down. The fight with Covid felt like it would never end.
It has taken time for people to gain their confidence and I feel the aftermath will continue for some time. I have certainly noticed that anxiety issues have been a major theme in my clinics, and this is all age groups. Following on from this we have had the war in Ukraine and its knock-on effect, the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth, political turmoil, and the rising cost of living. It has felt at times like it has been a constant barrage of negativity. It may feel like “Merry” Christmas is quite a difficult term, especially if you are struggling to make ends meet.
Do not despair, there is still room for positivity. Christmas does not have to cost a fortune. Look at Christmas differently. What do you remember about Christmas? Is it those expensive presents that stay in your mind, or is it time spend time with loved ones, playing games, and just relaxing. I have a fitting example. At the weekend I went out for a Sunday walk, it was a beautiful crisp, frosty day and everywhere looked pretty. As we walked, we noticed a group of people standing near a phone box.
They were village Carol Singers and they stopped and asked if they could sing to us – they asked me to choose a song. I chose Little Donkey as it is a favourite of mine. It was so touching, most unexpected and I felt quite emotional. They were raising funds for a village defibrillator. This to me is the true spirit of Christmas.
So here are my self-care tips for Christmas:
There is pressure to make Christmas “perfect,” stop! This is sure fire way to increase your stress levels. Christmas is different for everyone who is to say what is a “perfect” Christmas.
Lists and Budgets
Set yourself a budget and stick to it this way you will not overspend, and it prevents you from getting any unwanted bills in the New Year. You could write a list with how much you have available to spend on each person.
Get creative and give your friends and family presents that come straight from the heart. I am sure these would be much appreciated.
We all now emotions can run high, spending time with relatives you do not see often, trying to fit everyone into your schedule. Be assertive and set ground rules. Remember not everyone will be on their best behaviour. If you find tensions running high, take time out of the situation.
Avoid using alcohol to cope with increased stress, or cope with family gatherings. This can backfire and you may say or do something you regret. The after effect will leave you feeling lethargic and low in mood.
Yes, we all want to indulge in the nice foods that go hand in hand with Christmas. Balance this out with plenty of fruit and vegetables to keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, low mood, loss of concentration and have a negative impact on your mental health.
Fresh Air and Exercise
Spending time in the fresh air is good for our mental health. Being outside and in nature lowers your blood pressure, strengthens your immune system, and reduces stress.
Just say ‘No’
There is no obligation to say yes to everything, prioritise your own wellbeing and make sure you allow yourself time to relax.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you”, Anne Lamott
If you are struggling talk to someone you trust. If you need support do not be afraid to ask for help.
Have a very Mindful Christmas.