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  • Writer's pictureMelanie

8 self-care strategies to survive Christmas!

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Christmas can be fun, full of meaning, joy and festivities, but it also brings its challenges that can leave us struggling. Here are 8 self-care strategies to enable you to be healthy, rested and in the moment, whatever the festive season delivers!

tea light lantern on snow with star decorations

Stresses, strains and changes:

Christmas can be a time of coming together and magic, especially when there are small children in the mix. It’s a time of traditions, family time, food and indulgence.

However, for many of us, Christmas isn’t quite what the films portray. It can be a time of stress as we try to organise where we are going, who to see when, what presents to buy, how many we are feeding and for which meals – our brains and our fridges are both pushed to the extremes.

presents wrapped in brown paper, string, stars, labels and fir tree

We can feel forced to buy gifts we can’t afford as we want to be generous, adding many people to our list, not forgetting the office Secret Santa, and making sure no one feels hard done by. This can leave us stressed and anxious – Can I afford it? Does it look enough? What if they bought me more?

We can feel guilt over our extravagance when we know others are feeling the pinch of the current financial situation and are having to go without.

I for one find Christmas hard. I always want it to be ‘perfect’, which to me means having all my loved ones under one roof, sharing good times, eating well, and playing games. The reality is never that. I have a complicated family, spread all around the country and beyond, so there are always a million considerations when trying to organise anything, which can take the sparkle off the festivities as I tend to feel I want to please everyone but actually can’t.

decoration made of fir tree, string and paper-wrapped parcels

This year, I’m trying something different; I shall be having a special day on the Solstice to celebrate nature at a time when I feel that should be at the forefront of our minds. Yes, I have bought presents, and yes, I will see family, but maybe not all on that day. This is fine. Sometimes we have to find our own way and find new traditions that work for us.

The festive season will look different for us all, yet one thing we all have in common is the need to look after ourselves to be able to get through to New Year unfrazzled. Below are my 8 Christmas self-care strategies which I’m sharing with you, to give you the best chance of staying healthy and energized no matter what Christmas has in store!

1. Find some peace in your day

My number one survival strategy is time to look after myself. It’s the oxygen mask analogy, we

need to look after ourselves to be able to look after others. Ring-fence some time just for you. I add time for yoga (20 minutes) and a short meditation (10 minutes) to my diary every day to make sure it happens. I also have a gratitude practice every morning and a short reflection at the end of my working day. These things don’t take me long, and they definitely help to keep me on an even keel! What do you enjoy and what makes you feel grounded? It may be a soak in a warm bath, a walk in the park, listening to music, dancing in the kitchen, meditation, or curling up with a good book…whatever it is, put it in your diary in permanent ink, it’s a non-negotiable!

candles in glass jars with string and foliage
gold wrapped parcels with red ribbon under Christmas tree

2. Talk to your friends and family about gift expectations

Ask what they want or need, one thoughtful gift is better than 10 random presents that never get used or played with. Maybe you can agree to not buy presents or to have a price limit. Another idea is to give a donation to charity instead of buying a gift. Set yourself a budget and make sure you stick to it for each person, if anything, try to spend less, no one will know or mind.

glasses of iced water on rustic bench

3. Drink water

This may sound obvious, but at this time of year, it is easy to forget to drink water and we can quickly become dehydrated, leading to headaches, lethargy and bad moods. Keep a glass jug of water on your desk, sip on herbal teas, and drink water with your meals and when you first get up. It is thought that we need 1-5-2l of water a day, this equates to 6-8 small glasses.

4. Give the energy drinks a miss

Tempting as it may be to have a vodka and energy drink (you know what I mean!) to keep you in the party mood, it will have a knock-on effect on your body, disrupting your sleep patterns and making post-night-out recovery harder. Sugary drinks will also affect your blood sugar balance, leaving you craving foods you might otherwise turn down. After-dinner coffees should also be avoided if you want to get a decent night’s sleep. If you do fancy a coffee after dinner, ask for decaf, or alternatively try mint tea, which has the added benefit of aiding digestion.

three cocktails or mocktails on wooden bench with straws and fruit decoration

5. Have a couple of booze-free days each week as a minimum.

Drinking too much is harmful to your health, and our tolerance for alcohol falls as we age, especially if you are a woman, as we produce less of a compound known as ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase) which is needed in the detoxication of alcohol. Giving your body a chance to recover between parties is essential. If you do drink every day over Christmas, try to limit it to just one or two. Alcohol not only causes hangovers but is damaging to gut health, lowers immunity, and is linked to long-term health risks such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and mental health problems. I’m popping some mocktail recipes on my blog, why not give them a whirl?

6. Eat your greens!

green cauliflower

Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, Kale and cauliflower contain a compound called sulforaphane which is linked to health benefits such as improved digestion, heart health, and liver health, it also has anti-cancer and anti-diabetic benefits. Eat at least 5 portions of vegetables a day, of which at least 2 should be cruciferous to keep your digestion on track and your liver functioning well during these times of eating rich food and having the odd drink!

7. Get an early night

two dogs with reindeer antlers and christmas hat

Try to stick to a regular bedtime and waking time over the busy period, your body will thank you for it. If you know that you have a long day or night ahead of you, try going to bed a little bit earlier the night before and the night after to allow your body an extra chance to recover. A good night’s sleep does wonders for glowing skin and energy levels to see you through social occasions. If you struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep, try having a magnesium salts bath before bed, or using a magnesium body spray as magnesium has proven relaxation properties.

8. Get moving!

three women in swimsuits paddling in sea

Taking time each day for some exercise does wonders for both mental and digestive health. Do whatever feels good for you; it might be swimming, going for a run, taking a walk in the woods, dancing, playing frisbee down the park – embrace your inner child and have fun! Getting out of the house and breathing in some fresh air will make you feel good, it gets the endorphins flowing and, as an added bonus, gives your skin a gorgeous winter glow!

Keep these tips to hand as a reminder of what you can do to make it through to January feeling energised and cared for!

Remember; breathe slowly, sleep well, eat well, and reduce the pressure of the presents.

Wishing you a happy and healthy festive season.

Melanie xx

four wooden and felt angel decorations with Christmas tree and lights

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