It’s for many good reasons that I have dedicated December as ‘Look after yourself month’ at Blue Skies.
MIND – as a psychotherapist I know December is often a very stressful month for people with most of my referrals coming in January (straight after Christmas). Loss is experienced more acutely too. Family tensions and expectations, being busier at work and socially can all add to stress. The ending of the year isn’t always easy. I have some tips for soothing your mind in December.
BODY – many people are pushing on through tiredness and viruses trying to tidy up loose ends or create what I call the ‘airbrushed Christmas’ when their bodies are crying out to stop. When we do this I believe we are fighting nature, that’s nature’s way is there around us seen in the plants and animals. I have some tips about going with this flow rather than fighting it.
SOUL – This time of year is also a time for many religious and pagan festivals. As trees are bare, lakes freeze over, darkness is around us, we naturally turn inward. In Chinese 5 element theory this is a time of deep reserves, of purification, in other traditions there are miracles of light in the darkness, of new birth and new cycles and beginnings. These are the profound reflections of winter time.
Miriam’s 7 Tips for December
1 Perspective in Goals
Start by deciding what you want December to be. Look for the goal and write it down. What is this about for you? Is is family? Giving? Rest and recharge? Spiritual reflection? Friends? Make sure you are clear what is important to you here, because as sure as anything you are going to have to make some compromises to the perfect picture and this will help you see what the important things are. Remember, “The main thing, is to keep the main thing, the main thing.” (Stephen Covey) so be clear what the main thing is.
2 Stop Comparing
This is important all year round and at Christmas a lot of pain is caused by these comparisons. The TV ads do not help, all those perfect family scenes which don’t take account of the bereaved, the estranged, the dysfunctional families. Everyone smiling and laughing doesn’t reflect tired, sad, sick people with real life problems. I strongly recommend not watching the ads at all. Don’t dwell on what you imagine everyone else has and you think you don’t. The increase in comparison thinking in December, in my view, has a great deal to do with the winter blues.
3 Health Resilience
Pay extra attention to health and don’t overload your system with stress, chemicals, alcohol and food (at least not until the end of the month). You will need stamina to meet your goals.
4 Follow Nature
When you can, remember the trees going within and not producing, remember the bear hibernating. Nature knows what to do now. It’s a completely different energy this season, honour that and you will feel better. I’m usually a super-busy, super-productive person. Some years ago I noticed a my sudden and acute depletion of energy when the clocks went back. Two things helped for me: the first was not fighting this tiredness, but hibernating, going with the flow being quieter. For the times I really needed to be productive, a light lamp worked to temporarily boost my energy.
5 Slow Down
Pause and breathe regularly this will help us remember to look back at our goals and to take action to boost our immune systems. Sing along to the Christmas songs, take a moment to look and wonder either at nature or decorations. Stop to breathe, stop to look, stop to listen and feel. Pause to smell, to taste, to experience what is around you.
This is naturally a time to go inward, we may experience inner darkness at times, we may look for hope, lack hope or contemplate light in the darkness or at the end of the tunnel. The dominant religion in the UK, Christianity, celebrates God becoming human. Winter gives us time to connect with what is within, whether we see that as God, our true Self, Source or our feelings. Say hello to the deeper you when prompted. Going within is about resourcing (returning to Source) ourselves ready for spring.
7 Ho ho ho
“Ho ho ho”, is an excellent exercise for all of the above. Laughter boosts the immune system, turns off the stress arousal system and helps us regain perspective. It encourages us to not sweat the small stuff. In Laughter Yoga last week we laughed as we imagined receiving an awful present, and we laughed as we received a perfect present. We can laugh at burnt potatoes, we can laugh at spilling drinks, this helps us remember we can choose our responses and to keep the main thing the main thing! It will enhance other people’s moods, as well as your own, and the atmosphere around you and everything will become easier if you add some Laughter Yoga principles in (this is not sweeping things under the carpet, it’s keeping things in perspective).
I have huge amount of empathy for those who like me have learned these lessons the hard way. We all need to learn them easier!
I have taken a very difficult decision, after months of pushing on, to stop work and not work in December. The last couple of months, everything not work, the things that sustain me, have gone by the wayside as I have been poorly so seen clients and rested that’s it.
I couldn’t go dog walking, swimming, get to singing or yoga or meditation groups, I wasn’t seeing friends and missed family occasions and in the final couple of weeks when I started skipping even more basic and essential self care and was also unable to drive anymore I realised I had to stop work and put myself first.
I am doing an intensive look after yourself December – for myself and sharing it with you. My plan being that I will go into hospital as well as possible to give myself the best chance of a quick recovery. So I will rest and also feed myself better and do some gentle exercise and rest some more. I’ve been addicted to being superwoman in the past and I have to break this habit and walk the talk – I can’t talk self care to clients and run my self into the ground in front of them!
This blog is likely to have grammar and spelling mistakes because I decided to keep the main thing the main thing and share and connect with you, and not to sweat the small stuff – ha ha ha!
Look after yourselves please and have a wonderful December! There are daily tips, support and encouragement on Facebook
which will be posted every day this month (yes there is a thing that does it all for me!) to keep you on track with the tips.