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 natural 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.
Today I am on the sofa under a soft, Christmassy blanket, looking out the window at the bare tress and blue skies. I am enjoying my Christmas decorations of snowflakes in the window, catching the light and making the room sparkle.
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 my Laughter Yoga and Happiness Group 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).
“keeping the main thing, the main thing” (Covey)
For me this means being with those I love and being rested enough to enjoy it. The compromise will be no Christmas cards sent and party invitations declined this year. I don’t like the compromise but I have to choose so I choose this.
I have huge amount of empathy for those who like me have learned these lessons the hard way. We all need to learn them more easily!
I am doing an intensive look after yourself December – for myself and sharing it with you. I will rest and also feed well, do some gentle exercise and rest some more. I’ve been addicted to being superwoman in the past and I am learning to break this habit and walk the talk!
Today I am on the sofa under a soft, Christmassy blanket, looking out the window at the bare tress and blue skies. I am enjoying my Christmas decorations of snowflakes in the window, catching the light and making the room sparkle. I’ve some admin to do on my laptop, such as revamping this old blog for 2018, and after a nap I shall watch a Christmas film. I know this is in many ways easier for me than most of you, as you have to work or meet external demands, so I can be grateful (though it’s difficult at times) that it’s not a choice for me, it’s what has to be. It’s not unpleasant, so much to be seen and appreciated. I’m very excited because my home help who comes to get me my breakfast etc has fetched in some ivy from the garden and revamped last year’s Christmas wreath, which is now hanging on the front door. I’m smiling because there is a basket of presents under the tree for my family. I have seasonal music playing. There is much to enjoy. I am managing to be focussed on what is making me smile by staying with my senses in the moment. What I see, hear, smell and the touch of the blanket and taste of my tea. If I want to feel worse I can think about how long it is since I managed to get out in the sunshine or worry how long it will be before I can get back to work… So staying in the moment with taste, touch, sound, smell and sights means even when I’m quite debilitated by illness, I can be happy.
Enjoy this moment, even if you just lift your eyes to look out the window or to enjoy the Christmas lights on your way home. Happiness is now, and waiting till such and such to happen and ‘then’ we will be happy, is not very helpful to many of us.
Being gentle, lying on the sofa, watching it go dark.
All is quiet.
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 tips, support and encouragement on Facebook.