Last but not least, take some time for you
It's impossible to make the most of Christmas if you're running on empty. Taking time out helps you avoid the burn out.
Festive activities with family and friends, work get togethers, Christmas shopping, readying the home for guests…the weeks in the run up to the big day can be a busy time no matter how much we try to slow down and keep it simple. It’s important to make time to rest, relax and soak up the atmosphere.
One of my most vivid memories of Christmas time dates back to university. I had a friend living in a nearby village who had already completed her course and found a local job. We would go out for the night and then the next day, when she headed out to work, I would light one of her candles that smelled beautifully of fir trees, lie back in a warm bath and listen to Enya.
Whatever your musical tastes, a candlelit bath and a nourishing bath oil are the perfect way to grab some time to yourself. Here are a few other ideas on my list for this year, to build in some self-care to the festive season:
Get out in nature for an invigorating walk or run and curl up with a hot drink and a good book when you're home.
Forage for natural materials to dress your home. I love picking fresh holly. It keeps for months in water so I do this nice and early to bring the outside in.
Set aside a quiet afternoon to make paper decorations. I’ll be picking a few designs from here. I’m still trying to decide whether to involve the kids!
Put on a favourite Christmas film and wrap a few presents. I have to choose something I know really well so I can wrap at the same time! Just setting aside 3-4 gifts and using beautiful, sustainable gift-wrap makes the whole experience extra satisfying. Try Kinshipped or The Danes for beautiful seasonal designs or check out this article for more inspiration.
Build in some exercise to counteract the indulgence. My kids groan when we say we’re doing the Boxing Day run but every time we make the effort, we all feel so much better afterwards. Last year, I took a socially distanced sea dip with a friend on Christmas Eve morning. Whatever your preference, getting out in the elements and being active is wildly reinvigorating at this time of year.
Sometimes the best form of self-care is about caring for others. At the heart of Christmas is the act of giving. This can be gifts but it can also be time or help. Take an hour to have a cup of tea with a neighbour who is on their own or make an extra portion of dinner to share. Make this the year you a do a reverse advent calendar. In previous years I’ve chosen to buy children’s gifts for a local women’s refuge. Recognising that many people find Christmas a difficult time and doing something to help is an act of gratitude and kindness that will leave you feeling more positive.
Christmas can be a wonderful time of celebration, togetherness and sharing. Remember though, a slow mindful Christmas is not about putting yourself under pressure. It is about identifying what means the most to you and your loved ones, keeping it simple and embracing the moments.