Regular readers of my blog will know that, from time to time, I like to remind everyone (including myself) of the importance of self-care, and I decided that, in my penultimate post of the year, I would focus on this again.
Although I’m not on call this year, I’ve got quite a bit going on, so I’ve been practising some of my favourite tips and looking for new ones, though admittedly with mixed results! Here are some of the principles that I’ve been considering, and my hope is that this post will serve as an invitation to take a few moments to think about how you’re going to care for yourself over the holiday season, whether you’re at home, away with family at friends or at work, perhaps attending the births of the next generation of Carols, Noels and Hollies 😀
1. Cross everything off your list that can wait til next year.
I love this one, and I practise it regularly. I know you’re supposed to ‘not put off til tomorrow what you can do today’, but I’ve found that, even if I do everything on my list today, it just fills up again by halfway through the next morning. So now I practice conscious crossing-offness 😀 I have, for instance, crossed off the two-part blog post that I was going to write you on the studies that are on my winter reading pile. I just ran out of steam, and it will still be just as lovely when you read it in January. When friends get overwhelmed, I also offer to cross things off their lists as well, though people rarely take me up on my offer… But I can assure you that it’s very therapeutic. If you don’t know what to cross off your list, you could always try closing your eyes and stabbing at it with a pen…
2. Get the essentials done ahead of time.
Not being on call over the holidays is a fairly new thing to me and I am still learning how to manage that. I’m not a naturally organised person though, and last year I felt like I spent most of the big day in the kitchen. So, having crossed everything off my list that wasn’t essential, I’m taking a friend’s advice and attempting to plan and cook ahead. With slightly mixed results. It turns out I should have been clearer about how many nuts we might need over the festive season before I took CB up on his kind offer of going to the supermarket to ‘shop ahead’. (Look out for possible bonus walnut-related activities in my Recipes for Normal Birth workshops next year, as I’m not sure whether we’ll have got through them by March). May I also advise anyone thinking of stockpiling stock ahead of time to label it while it’s cooling in the dish, in case their man helpfully comes along to wash up while they are elsewhere and tips it all down the sink by mistake?
3. Take time out.
I’m happy to report that I’m generally good at this one. So far, I have watched four completely rubbish seasonal films in the day time, which I have found to be incredibly decadent and thus therapeutic. I thoroughly recommend this and, if you’re not sure where to look for them then just go to your TV planner and type ‘Claus’ into the search facility. This will almost guarantee from the outset that they’re going to have happy endings, which is an essential element of such therapy. Add hot tea, chocolate, some knitting or sewing and/or a magnesium footbath as desired.
4. Do less, not more.
I realise that my friends in the Southern hemisphere will have to wait til June to apply this one, but the winter is a time for resting. We need less activity, more sleep and, just like seeds snuggling under the ground, we’re meant to be slowly growing our ideas for the spring rather than bouncing around trying to implement them. Someone sent me this lovely post about holiday self-care and I really like the idea of ‘hopping on the no train’. I’m going to try and find time for the reflection idea as well, but I’m wary that it might become something else I feel I need to add to my list…
5. Set boundaries
I’m thinking a playpen sounds like a good idea. For me and a book and whatever treats Santa brings 😀 But if that doesn’t work out, I’m thinking that I might tell everyone ahead of time that I’ll be taking to my bed for a nap every afternoon. That way, I’ll have an hour a day in which I can do whatever I like, without being on family call or feeling like I need to be doing something. And if that isn’t self-care, then I don’t know what is.
How about you?
Are you already good at holiday self-care, or would you benefit from giving it a bit of thought? Do you have ideas that work for you? If so, I’ve love to hear them, and they might also inspire others to think about how to make time and space for themselves, which ends up benefiting everybody…
This post was part of my 2015 blogfest, during which I wrote a blog post every day for two weeks as a way of saying thank you to those who are helping keep my free and ad-free information activities online. If my work helps you in yours and you would like to make a donation and help me keep all of these resources free and heart-funded through 2016, please click here and make a donation. Thank you for caring about women and babies.