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, as we are getting close to the festive season, it was time to update my post on this topic. .
I’m not on call this year, so I’ll make sure to send positive vibes to everyone who is. Here are some of my favourite principles. We all have differently-shaped families and lives so I’m not under the illusion that these suggestions will be right for everyone … 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 every year. I know some people say 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 a couple of blog posts that I was going to write. They’ll still be relevant 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 tried some new tactics, with mixed results. In my attempt to plan and cook ahead one year, it turns out I should have been clearer about how many nuts we might need over the festive season before Chris headed out to the supermarket. (This did lead to some bonus walnut-related activities in workshops though, so there’s always a silver lining). 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 a couple of years ago and I’m re-sharing it because 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 😀 I know that doesn’t work for everyone, and I’ve had years where that would have been impossible due to family commitments. But I have come to believe that it’s almost always possible to create a bit of space or set a boundary somewhere. 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…
P.S. If you still need last-minute gifts for midwife or birth friends, please consider our “midwives help the world get born” bags, coasters and other goodies which Chris designed to help support our free Birth Information Project. And if you love your morning tea or coffee, you can get the same design on mugs too!