‘Tis the season to be… stressed? Overwhelmed? Run off your feet with caring responsibilities, to-do lists and pressure to make Christmas magical? If that’s how you’re feeling, this blog’s for you. Read on for the one thing I recommend you do to feel less stressed this Christmas: a lesson learned from my own exhausted experience!
Christmas can do one!
If you’ve been wishing Christmas would just eff off and you could wake up in March, you’re not alone. From conversations at the school gates, with my clients and with friends, one thing many of us aren’t feeling is an abundance of joy. The year is heading towards the shortest day and icy nights, a time when we’re more drawn to hibernation than racing around attending carol concerts and doing late night shopping. We just want to be left alone!
For me, I’d love to have some time to unwind with friends, or relax by myself, but between parenting and other family responsibilities, it can feel impossible amidst taking care of everyone else.
The tough-sounding, necessary truth
This year, more than ever, I’ve had to come back to this truth: if I don’t make time for myself, no-one else will.
I don’t have someone checking on me making sure that I’m doing the things that bring me joy. And that’s not to say I don’t have loving friends and family, because I’m lucky that I do! It’s that they can’t be expected to know what I want and need each day. They’re not responsible for how I fill my time. I am.
There’s no point wishing for more hours in the day, or for someone to write me a permission slip to go for a swim, or a massage, or have a coffee with a friend. I have to do it for myself.
And this year, I have, consistently. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of, because it has taken some de-programming. It’s so easy to think, ‘that massage isn’t important, I can catch up on admin instead’, or ‘it’s too much of a pain to fit swimming in today’.
I have learned that these things ground me, they help me relax, and they remind me I’m a person, not just a robot servicing other people’s lives. So they are important – they actually help me do the rest of my life better, whether that’s parenting, life admin, work or other caring responsibilities.
And so it’s on me: they won’t happen by accident. I have to be deliberate about diarising them. If I want them in my life, I have to make space.
The power of giving yourself space
This year I trained in hosting midlife circles, as well as offering holistic treatments. At first there might not seem to be many similarities between bringing women together and providing a back massage or reflexology session. But they have something vital for your wellbeing in common: they create space.
Both of them offer time away from the pressures and burdens of everyday life. You are invited to attend exactly as you are, with no judgement. You don’t need to look a certain way, and it’s fine to be as open or as quiet as you like about how you’re feeling.
The space to just be, and be looked after is incredibly precious. And it can be life-changing: when you experience the level of relaxation you get from a massage, or the level of acceptance you get from sitting in circle, you often leave with more clarity. What’s important to you and what you need to do about it just makes more sense. It’s the difference between trying to find your way out of the woods while standing under the trees, and getting a bird’s eye view of where you are.
To get to a circle, or a massage or reflexology appointment, you need to make the space in your diary for it. It seems obvious, but I’m saying it now because it didn’t used to feel obvious to me! Doing things for myself felt like a wistful ‘if only’ dream rather than something I could make happen.
And I know that many of us don’t have an abundance of spare time around work, home and life commitments. So sometimes we have to say no to say yes. It might be saying no to an activity with the children (doing this on occasion does not make you a bad parent!). It might be choosing easier food to shove in the oven rather than cook from scratch. It might be saying no to your own apathy (I can’t be alone in this!).
I know from experience there are hundreds of ways to talk yourself out of making space for the things you need. And I know that my life is so much better when I catch myself and book the damn massage!
More space less stuff this Christmas
One of the biggest headaches of this season is the pressure of presents. Many of us don’t want more stuff, I know I don’t. Instead I’d like more time to do things that help me feel good.
If you’re looking to give or receive clutter-free, eco-friendly, feel-good gifts this year, I have you covered! My gift vouchers are valid about any holistic treatment or circle sessions. Just message me to organise one.
And if you want to be more deliberate about creating space for yourself in 2023, I have you covered there too. I am planning something exciting to give you the space you need to be, without judgement, without pressure each month. Numbers will be limited so let me know if you’d like to hear about it first.
Wishing you more space and less stress this Christmas!