How do you feel about Christmas?
I’ve been asking my clients this question – and the range of responses is interesting! Some are done and dusted with cards written and presents wrapped by the end of October. Others are stressing themselves to the max leaving everything until the last minute. One client, with children in their thirties, hadn’t even considered that she had the option to say “I’m not doing it all this year!!!” when I suggested she told them she wanted Christmas Day to be a team effort. Sometimes we do what we do out of habit, without stopping to think of the effects on our wellbeing. We need to stop, and breathe, and “feel”, in order to give ourselves the space to choose to do things differently.
However you feel at this time of year – whether you enjoy or endure the festive season – I hope this might resonate with you. It might seem like a cheesy joke in a Christmas cracker, but look out for the toy that pops out – like the mini spectacle repair kit that actually may be rather useful!
Here’s a question for you: If you were a Christmas tree, what sort would you be?
Christmas trees come in all shapes, sizes, and colours – they can be real or artificial, tall and spiky or short and lush, and they can be decorated traditionally with generations-old well-loved decorations, or in the latest designer-glitzy style.
Think about the approaching season – is it a religiously significant time of year for you? Does it bring you joy, peace, love, happiness, a sense of connection and belonging? Do you love the entire ritual or does it cause you emotional turmoil?
You may be part of a big happy family, you may be single, or you may have family on the other side of the world. You may have suffered the bereavement of a loved one, or lost a beloved pet. Perhaps you are suffering with chronic illness, pain, or fighting off a black dog of a depression?
We all see and feel things from our very subjective point of view – it’s worth reflecting upon this, especially at this time of year. There is a lot of pressure and expectation, and a lot of striving to make things perfect! What’s perfect for us may fill someone else with dread.
It can help to accept that we’re all very different – just like Christmas trees! So don’t go re-decorating someone else’s tree – tweaking someone else’s baubles – to make it “just perfect” in your eyes.
December is often a month of amplified emotions, unhelpful relatives and demanding kids. Add in a norovirus or flu, too much egg-nog and a turkey that won’t fit in the oven and it’s enough to send anyone over the edge.
Do you take on too much, making Christmas perfect for everyone else while de-prioritising your own needs? Your sanity and peace of mind is at stake, you feel tense, frazzled and emotional – and anything BUT Ho Ho Ho!
However you feel about this time of year, you can give yourself some amazing gifts and better coping skills – presence and peace of mind. Choose to live life moment-by-moment and not get blown about on the sea of emotion, expectation and ritual that is December.
By looking after your own “tree” first, you keep the base grounded, so that it can be self-supporting, nurtured, watered (mind the lights!) and you can withstand the rigours of the festive season.
It’s like the instruction to “put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others”.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Bring AWARENESS to your breathing. Moment by moment, initially just being aware makes a difference. Then FOCUS on belly-breathing to bring you some calm and to switch on the “rest and digest” part of your nervous system. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just do it a little at a time and it can help a lot!
- Learn how to meditate. Check out these websites to learn more: www.breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk, www.headspace.com, www.wildmind.com or come to my Body Mind Unwind class to learn mindfulness meditation.
- Buy yourself a present of massage “Ball”bles for Christmas – I have a set of different ones to use on my “tree”! They can be spiky or smooth, soft or hard and come in different sizes, densities, colours, shapes – just like Christmas baubles! I can help you choose the right ones which can be purchased from my website.
Use the balls to self-treat those stiff shoulders and neck and that low back-ache which arises from too much driving and sitting, those party feet that throb from dancing in high heels, or legs that ache from long dog walks. Soften onto the ball with your body, be present and cultivate some awareness – is it tense, uncomfortable, stiff, achy? It will change moment by moment as you breathe – and breathing into it will help quieten an over-stressed nervous system – the one that can keep you irritable, tense, grumpy, and emotional.
If you’d like to join a class or experience tailored hands-on therapy in the New Year, please do get in touch.
And remember to get the right “Ball”bles for your tree this Christmas!