With all the extra curricular activities the holiday season brings, like battling shopping centre crowds, buying the perfect gifts, spending more than future you would appreciate (or maxing out your Afterpay limit, let’s be honest) not to mention managing your overflowing social calendar alongside work commitments and general life admin, you probably feel like time is your enemy and surrendering to the chaos is the only way to get through this busy period.
And with 2020 being an absolute doozy of a year, Alex Phillips founder of Saint Belford, and no stranger to being ‘burnt out’, would love to help you replace the chaos with a little more calm and composure, which is why they have compiled their favourite self-care strategies for the silly season.
VISIT MOTHER NATURE REGULARLY
If you work indoors like us, make it a point to step outside, stretch your legs, take a few deep conscious breaths of fresh air and bask in the glorious sunshine.
Inhaling fresh air helps clear your lungs, forcing out the toxins and waste inhaled indoors. This increases the flow of oxygen which subsequently boosts energy levels, improves concentration and overall mood.
So, if you’re feeling a little foggy in the mind, let nature do it’s thang.
Fatigue, headaches and respiratory illnesses can all stem from a lack of fresh air and Vitamin D deficiency. Earlier this year, I learned that the fatigue I was experiencing was primarily caused by outrageously low levels of Vitamin D. Whoops!
Hibernating indoors is dangerously easy, so be mindful of how much time you are spending indoors versus outdoors and lap up the refreshing benefits nature can have on your mind and body.
We all know that staying hydrated is vital for our body to function at its best, but this becomes even more important as the temperature rises and the festive drinks start flowing.
Instead of waiting for a headache or general fatigue to trigger a reminder to hydrate, keep a 1 litre bottle at your desk and set an alarm on your phone as often as you need.
Write HYDRATE on a post-it note and stick it on your laptop or desk. Do whatever you need to do to ensure you’re guzzling down that much-needed H2O and being mindful of your water intake, so that the flat out annoying symptoms of dehydration don’t stand a chance at ruining your festive spirit.
MAKE SLEEP NON-NEGOTIABLE
We are big fans of sleep here at Saint Belford. And for good reason.
According to Matthew Walker,(Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science),sleep is the greatest, most natural “performance enhancing drug” that most people neglect.
7-9 hours is the recommended amount.
You can also forget the old adage, “you can sleep when you’re dead” because in reality, sleep deprivation predicts all causes of mortality, including cancer, alzheimer’s diabetes and heart disease.
Sorry to get all morbid, but sometimes we all need the cold, hard facts to sound the alarm and wake us up. We sure did.
Did you know that your time to physical exhaustion drops by a massive 30% on 6 hours of sleep or less?
With your extra commitments and extended to-do list, your body is probably expending the most amount of energy it has all year, which means it needs time to rest and recharge, before you take it to the next social gathering.
You may also find yourself driving more frequently during the holiday period, so ensure you’re well rested before you embark on any driving adventures.
HAVE THE COURAGE TO SAY NO
Remember that saying no is an option. Have the courage to say no to things that aren’t going to serve you well this season, whether that’s a big boozy night out or taking on more projects at work. Value your time and choose only what is right for you. It’s only when you begin respecting your time that others will follow suit.
Being selective about the invitations you accept also means that you can show up as your best self for the people and things that are most important to you.
PLAN AHEAD FOR PEACE OF MIND
Planning your week in advance gives you the opportunity to prioritise what’s important to you. Instead of trying to “find” time for your personal commitments, you can block out time for your intentions, whether that’s organising Christmas presents or cleaning the garage.
This will give you a birds eye view of the week, allowing you to mentally prepare for the week ahead, much like google mapping the best route to your destination.
It also alleviates decision fatigue which means you can begin Monday feeling A LOT more productive and a little less “where do I even begin with this epic to-do list floating around in mind?”
We know that there are always unforseen “urgent” items on the agenda that inevitably pop up and require you to reshuffle your priorities, but for the larger part, planning your week in advance produces so many wins that can help keep your stress levels at bay this season.
After all, planning ahead = peace of mind knowing that you’ve scheduled time for your biggest priorities.
EAT THE GOOD STUFF
Food is your fuel and your body will need the best stuff to stay energised this season.
We love our treats, but when they are readily available, it’s easy to forget about the after effects and focus on the momentary mouth pleasure.
Instead of waiting for regret to settle in, be mindful of what you’re putting into your body and how it’s going to make you feel in a couple of hours.
Meal planning, making a list of healthy takeaway options and baking your own healthy treats can help you make more conscious food choices when hunger strikes.
The next time you find yourself in a frustrating situation, like being stuck in traffic when you’re already running late, experiencing unsolicited road rage, taking 20 minutes to find a car park or weeding through masses of people to get your Christmas shopping done, treat it as an opportunity to practise and cultivate patience.
Be mindful of how you respond in those situations. Can you take a deep breath and let it go?
We know it’s not easy and we’re all guilty of snapping and losing our temper more times than we’re proud of, but changing the way we respond in those circumstances begins with catching yourself out.
In those moments of frustration, when you can feel your cortisol levels rising for no good reason, use these techniques to channel calm:
Identify the expectation and let it go.
When the world doesn’t align with our expectations, like when it takes us 30 minutes to get to A to B instead of the expected 15 minutes, that’s when anger is known to rear its ugly head.
Acknowledging that your anger was the result of your expectations can help you let go. We can only release that anger if we accept the present moment for what it is and realise that plenty of things lie outside our control.
Visualise a calm setting.
Focus on a time you felt at peace. Maybe you were at the beach watching the waves crash or watching an epic waterfall or holding your baby cousin.
Give yourself a pat on the back the next time you’re able to practise patience in a frustration situation. It’s a BIG deal.
Letting go of the chaos and making self-care a priority means that you can actually enjoy the magic of Christmas. It’s a wonderful time to connect with friends and family, reflect on the year that’s been, blast Mariah Carey, binge watch ALL the Christmas movies and create even more lasting memories.
Just remember to listen to your body – it knows what it needs and when it needs it. Give yourself permission to rest and recharge, so that you can soak up all the magical moments and begin 2021 feeling REFRESHED.
SheSociety is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.