Updated: Aug 4, 2020
By Charlotte Pointeaux, Certified Womxn's Life Coach, Sacred Circle Holder and author of Simply Sacred Self-Care
Christmas is a potent time of year – full of festivities, family and friends. Tis the season to be jolly, as they say, except for many of us it can also be a season tinged with grief, anxiety or stress.
As December and the silly season approaches once again, many of us can feel our emotions heighten as we anticipate all that lies ahead. There’s the frenetic rush to finish projects before the holiday starts, the pressure to gain the upper hand on Christmas shopping and meal planning, and the exhausted and emotional kids that are so ready for a rest themselves. The thought of getting through Christmas only to have several long hot sticky weeks of summer holiday together (if you’re in the southern hemisphere that is), makes you feel overwhelmed and anxious before its even begun.
For many of us, the festivities can bring up very real and often painful emotions related to remembering those we have lost from our lives.
Perhaps you’ve lost a beloved relative or friend, or are grieving a broken relationship, whilst others around you play happy families. Christmas is going to bring out the grief in you, you can be sure of it. When grief rears its powerful ugly head, it can feel like all the joy has been sapped out of what everyone else finds the most joyous of occasions. The potent reminder that Christmas can be of memories past can trigger the sadness of loss all over again, and it can feel very lonely.
Or maybe your stress is in anticipation of being around difficult people we’re obliged to see over Christmas.
Knowing you’ll be spending a booze-fuelled day with relatives who have a life-long experience in pushing your buttons with their passive aggressive insensitiveness and criticism can lead to dread in no time, am I right?
From the way you cook, parent, decorate your home or do your hair, there can be just no pleasing or silencing some people when they feel they have a God-given right to dish out the negativity.
Or perhaps they’re not even aware of what they’re doing and how it makes you feel? Either way, boundaries you might otherwise hold very tightly under different circumstances get trampled on by those who by definition are meant to be your nearest and dearest. Your usual confidence, personal power and ability to ward off negative people and vibes goes out the window in the face of a family Christmas reunion, leaving you feel like a little girl again: powerless, overwhelmed and struck by disbelief at how this has happened, again.
And so, whatever Christmas means to you – whether it be full-throttle frivolity, memories and loss, or navigating challenging dynamics around the dinner table, it’s imperative you prioritise your own wellbeing and know exactly how to support yourself with a water-tight self-care plan. Be pro-active about it, don’t wait until you’re feeling overwhelmed before you start. You know what they say, prevention is better than cure.
SO HOW CAN YOU BEST SUPPORT YOURSELF?
The best self-care plan supports each of the major aspects of your well-being: emotional, physical, mental, spiritual and social. Have a think about each of these aspects as you work through my top tips to help you create a well-rounded self-care plan for the silly season:
1. KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
What sets you off, winds you up or brings up difficult emotions for you? Think back to the last few Christmases, what happened, by who, what were the circumstances? Can you spot any patterns to your triggers? Knowing your triggers can help you avoid or minimise the chance of it recurring this year because once you know what the trigger is you can actively plan to minimise the trigger before it happens, and you can identify the emotions that are likely to come up with it.
2. TALK TO YOUR PARTNER / CLOSE FRIEND / TRUSTED RELATIVE
Share with them about the trigger so that they too are aware, and they can support you to move through the situation and emotion more easefully and gracefully. They can also help you put a plan in place to avoid the trigger altogether, which brings me to…
3. MANAGE THE TRIGGER
If you know that catering for the huge extended family on Christmas day gives you huge anxiety then consider changing it up this year. Perhaps split up the catering amongst family or make it potluck. Perhaps have your lunch fully catered by someone else! Perhaps invite the extended family round after lunch, for dessert and drinks rather than the full she-bang, or ask if someone else can host. Maybe you don’t want a huge whole-family gathering this year and you really fancy just a quiet day with your own gang.
Can you this year manage to do exactly what you want, rather than be drawn into people-pleasing once again? I know it can be just so hard to break tradition, when people make it clear when you’ve let them down. However being the good girl, the people-pleaser will only lead to a rising resentment and feeling of powerlessness if you don’t speak up for what you really need this year.
Ask yourself “what does your most ideal Christmas look like?” I invite you to think and sleep on it, and be bold enough to speak up for yourself this year. You deserve a restful, joyful, relaxed festive season as much as anyone else including your kids.
Maybe you can see everyone on Boxing Day instead?
4. SELF-CARE TOOLS FOR SURVIVING THE SILLY SEASON
Create a sacred space for yourself before Christmas day
So when you need a break it’s ready, allowing you to spend time savouring it rather than having to clear the clutter first. A sacred space might be a quiet place away from the gathering, e.g. in your bedroom, or it might be a window with a view, a full-blown altar space featuring candles, crystals, flowers, oracle cards, incense, special tea or the like, or it might be a comfy chair you know you can sink into for a moment to yourself. Somewhere you can be alone, be peaceful and present in the current moment.
Have a well-planned morning ritual for Christmas day
This is intentional time just for you to mindfully start your day with the best possible energy you can. Arise slowly. Go to your sacred space and take a few long slow breaths down into your belly. Perhaps write yourself an affirmation for the day such as
“I cherish time with my family today and am calm, at ease and joyful. I am fully supported and loved just as I am.”
Leave this affirmation in your sacred space for you to come back to as you need and wear a grounding essential oil such as frankincense to remind you throughout the day of your affirmation. Spend 5 minutes with your journal reflecting on all you’re grateful for at this time (gratitude raises your vibration and lifts your mood and mindset, helping you to attract positivity and high vibes back to you). Play soothing music.
If you’re hosting, go back to your sacred space throughout the day
Reconnect with your affirmation and self-care tools you’ve intentionally left there to support you. Breathe into your belly, feel your calm and personal power restoring before you head back to the party. If you’ve gone out, take the oil and written affirmation with you in your handbag, and spend time with them in private when you can, such as when you visit the bathroom.
Lay off the booze as medication
It’ll only numb the pain until later, lower your vibe and suppress the emotions to block your body and explode later. Instead of drinking your way through it, name the emotion behind the feeling you’re experiencing, know its perfectly ok and normal to feel that way, and then breathe it out by imagining your breath blowing the emotion away. Acknowledge it, and let it go. It’s easier said than done and does take practice, but now is a great time to start.
Speaking of booze
If you’re hosting, try to manage the amount of booze your guests consume, particularly any painful guests who’s tongue gets looser the more they drink. It’ll be better for everyone.
Stick to the 3-gift rule approach for children
Anymore and they become overwhelmed and your pocket suffers. If they receive many more, consider saving some of the gifts for the school holidays once the boredom really kicks in.
Let go of expectation
Your day will be perfect just as it is meant to be. Avoid pressuring yourself into putting on the ‘perfect’ Christmas and know in your heart that the day is really about connection, not consumption.
Let go of any expectations you have about what the day should be, or how you wish others would treat you. Dynamics are hard to change at any time and Christmas is not the time to try and resolve issues. Hard as it may be, manage your expectations and be at peace with who you are, and what the day means to you.
Have an after lunch walk or swim depending on where in the world you are. Movement helps shift your energy into a higher gear as well as kickstarts your digestion. It also is a rather nice distraction when you just need to get away or change pace. Maybe take a nap if you can swing it, or at least a quiet cup of tea away from the others. Even just 5 minutes can feel supportive.
And now it’s over to you. Have a think about self-care rituals or tools that you like to do and make a note to have them in your seasonal self-care toolkit. You don’t need to do everything – but by having pre-planned options it helps you feel supported instead of lost and overwhelmed.
UP YOUR SELF-CARE GAME
If you’re ready to up your self-care game further you can access a guide to creating your own sacred space, recorded meditations, a guided release ritual to help you find freedom from heavy emotions, journaling prompts, planning tools and many, many self-care ideas in my E-Book “10 Steps to Sacred Self-Care for Mamas” (you can even grab yourself a magnificent 15% off code when you subscribe to my newsletter too! Merry Christmas indeed!!).
Wishing you well this holiday season. May your Christmas be Merry and Bright, and full of confidence, calm and joy.