In this podcast episode I'm thinking a little about selfcare and sharing some tips for better wellbeing.
Last year I hosted the flash hashtag #makegoodfeelgood on Instagram. My blog post invited the community to just pause and reflect as we rolled into the Christmas season. I started with a kind of call to arms: cyber hugs not sales. A day to pause, reflect and think about what our making means to us and our mental health.
I was highlighting the great work of Mind, a charity here in the UK that I have a huge amount of admiration for. Mind are a charity that provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Mind campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding and I have used their services many times in my professional and personal life.
This year they’ve launched a new campaign called Life Support which is about the places in our communities that make us feel a little bit brighter, especially those of us living with a mental health problem. If you go to http://somewhere.mind.org.uk/ you can load in your postcode to find online postcards people have filled in about places near you that others find comfort in. You can even add your own postcard to keep that database going strong.
All this got me thinking about a busy time of year coming towards us, fast! So I wanted to create a little moment to pause now, ahead of time and prepare for a little self care in it all.
- Reconnect with the magic- This may seem obvious but any social engagement can feel quite hard when it seems like an obligation or another date in the diary. Find the part that makes you feel good, find what others are enjoying and try to dig into those aspects so the negative ones feel less daunting.
- Take time out- This is possibly my hardest life lesson! When adding your work parties and trips to relatives to the diary, try to carve out time for just sitting in your pjs and watching rubbish TV. Spend an afternoon pottering in the kitchen. Run a bath. Whatever you need to do to feel like you’ve had some time, do it! If you have to, write it in the diary so you’re not tempted to fill in every moment of every week leading up to Christmas day.
- Let the light in- It’s dark in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year so remember to get outside and fill up on some daylight. Whenever I can, I run for the big light hills near my home and really drink it in. I try to switch to candles nearer to bed time too so I’m not overstimulated by too much screen time during the day, a particularly bad thing for my near constant sleep problems. Daylight, light from electronic devices and candles can really change our mood and I haven’t even mentioned the powerful force that is the pretty Christmas lights!
- Consider not attending- I know, here comes the Grinch but do you need to do it all? Investing energy in fewer activities and events that bring you a better satisfaction seems a much better trade off for our family.
- Budget- Not just budgeting time but also budgeting finances can really help alleviate the stress. Think about the hidden costs of the Holidays season: petrol, the odd pack of mince pies to share with friends. entry tickets, Christmas cards etc. They can add up fast. Allow for that now so you don't have a massive dose of stress when the credit card bill arrives.
- Start a tradition- As a family, traditions have become pretty important to me. About 6-10 days before Christmas Day, we run an alternative Advent where each day she receives a thing to do: make cookies for her preschool friends, donate some things to charity. I try to keep it easily achievable too- there’s nothing worse than being bound to a tradition you struggle to keep up with. Breakfast in bed the first day of the school holidays is a particular favourite of mine!
- Detox- I try to have a few days where I focus on some healthy for me habits. I take time off from my devices that are bombarding me with Christmas activity ideas. I switch from endless coffees thrown at my face to a few herbal teas and early nights. I do a few salad platters so I know I’ve not lived on Stollen alone for a fortnight.
- Make Something- This is so true for people who make lots of gifts but you can start to become a little obsessive about getting everything made and to the planned recipients. If you’re handmaking something for someone else, you’re probably imagining the joy and satisfaction it will bring. Remember to give that to yourself too!
- Invest in your community- This can be a tough one and I hold my hand up as someone with some complicated family challenges making this one seem a little hard this time of year. However, when I reach out to friends and family and spend time investing and connecting in my community, the change in my mood is noticeable.
Music is 'Before the Breakdown' by Horses Heaven via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.