We've come to the final part of my Fight the Festive Frazzle blog series. I hope it's been an easy, enjoyable and - above all - helpful read, offering advice and strategies to help you take care of yourself during this crazy month of December. I've enjoyed sharing my ideas with you. For more self-care strategies sign up to my mailing list to receive a copy of my ebook 'Self-care Tips for the Frazzled, and for occasional newsletters with mental health and wellbeing tips.
18. Get outside
Following on from food and health, why not make today one of the days you focus on moving more by getting outside and enjoying some time in nature? According to mental health charity Mind, spending time in green space has a host of physical and mental wellbeing benefits, including:
improving your mood
reducing feelings of stress or anger
helping you take time out and feel more relaxed
improving your physical health
improving your confidence and self-esteem
helping you be more active
helping you meet and get to know new people
connecting you to your local community
helping you feel more connected to nature
So why not head to your local park or head off to a beach, river or into the countryside to fill your lungs with fresh air and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Slow down, and for a couple of hours forget about what still has to be done.
19. Try a meditation
You might have heard a lot about meditation in recent years. It seems like half the world is trying to cultivate a meditation practice and many people report great benefits to their mental and physical wellbeing through meditation. So what better time to try it than right now, when things may be feeling frantic.
There are many ways to meditate, but the way that I enjoy is through guided visualisation. This is when you relax and listen to someone taking you on a journey of some kind. It might be a walk through your favourite place, or floating on a cloud, or a specific place like a garden or a beach. You use all of your senses to make the images as real and vibrant as you can. It can be a beautiful and peaceful way to relax and be in the moment.
Why not try it? YouTube has many guided visualisations to choose from, and apps like Insight Timer, Headspace or Calm also include guided visualisations too.
20. Go with the flow
Today is a good day to check in with yourself. On a scale of 1 (I am zen) to 10 (I am overwhelmed) where are your stress levels at the moment? If things are all feeling like too much, or you’re feeling burnt out perhaps this is the time to stop worrying and doing for a little while, and turn your attention to something you love. Give yourself some time and space to do that thing that creates a state of flow where time passes you by unnoticed, you forget everything else, and you can immerse yourself in the activity.
Research has shown that there are changes to brain activity when you experience the state of flow, and also suggests that there is an increase in dopamine when you achieve that state. In short, spending some time doing something that takes you there can make you feel more relaxed, happier, and more energised. Check out the link below if you’d like to learn a bit more about the state of flow.
21. Block out your ‘me time’
Whether your holidays have already started, or you are one of the people who work over the festive holiday, it’s important to have some “me time” - time when you are able to relax and recharge, however you choose to do that.
In the first blog of this series I talked about mapping out your month by using your diary or online calendar to schedule time for all the important things. Revisit that and check whether you have scheduled any “me time” over the next couple of weeks. If you have, give yourself permission to honour that time. If you haven’t yet, do it now. Actually block the time out as if it was an event or a meeting, so that it can’t be filled by other things. At this time of year making time to reflect, rest and replenish yourself is valuable time. I hope you can give yourself the gift of that time, without guilt.
22. Fine tune your plans
With a few days left to ‘the big day’ today would be a good time to think about what you want/need to do beforehand. So...dig out your notebook and a make a list. What do you need to do to make Christmas day the way you want it? Think about food, chores, and Christmas prep that you want to finish (e.g any gifts still to make/wrap/deliver, cards to drop off, people you want to see) and check your diary to work out timescales. If it’s too much, rally support from the people around you if you can. Now you have a plan that should help you feel confident that you will remember the important things without the stress of wondering how you’ll fit it all in.
23. Give yourself time to prepare
So...you have lists...you have stuff to be done...now’s the time to tackle them.. What can you realistically get done in the time you have over the next couple of days? Highlighting the most important things on your list is a good start. Do those first, so that if there are any curve balls to deal with you know you’ve still done what’s most important. While Plan A might be to deep clean your entire house before Christmas day, maybe you’re now thinking that’s not as realistic as it once sounded. A more realistic Plan B might be to clean the rooms that people will see!
It’s all about balance - feeling happy and comfortable with what you’ve managed to do without exhausting yourself by trying to live up to impossible expectations.
24. 'Twas the day before Christmas... Prepare…and relax!
Do what’s important and what’s manageable and give yourself permission not to worry about the rest.
I encourage you also to decide on your ‘clocking off time’ today. When do you want to be done so you can sit down and relax and settle into your festive spirit? Maybe set a reminder for yourself as a prompt to ‘down tools’ when that time comes around.
However you feel about the festive season, I imagine that you have been impacted by it in some way. Whether you feel excitement, apprehension, dread or sadness at this time of year, all of these are big emotions which can be tiring in their own ways. Spend some time today doing whatever you need to do to bring yourself down to earth and find your emotional balance.
So there they are - 24 tips to help you feel less frazzled in December so that you step into the new year more energised and less exhausted. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays one and all!
I hope you find these blogs interesting and helpful. If you’d like to read more of my musings you can subscribe to my blog at https://www.tranquillocounselling.com/blog and follow me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tranquillocounselling.
Contact me at email@example.com to discuss how counselling might be helpful for you. I work face to face from my therapy room in Falkirk, and online.