I was at a client’s office one day having a chat to some of the women who regularly see me there and casually asked about their Christmas plans. One woman in particular (let’s call her Sandy) had plans in the leadup to the silly season that made me need to write this.
“I can’t wait for Christmas,” she said. Her tired eyes surrounded by dark black circles. “I’ve bought a special Christmas box for each of my children and each of my nieces and nephews. 13 all up.”
Ok, I thought. A lot of kids, but that’s cute!
“Each box has individual hand-picked items, activities and games suited to that child for the twelve days before Christmas! There’s games, treasure hunts… I stayed up until 2am last night making the collage with each of their pictures.”
Hmm, I started to nod sympathetically while I started to wonder how she was still upright.
“I love kids and the magic of Christmas so much that when I saw the idea on Pinterest I decided I wanted to do it. And then once I made one for my 2 kids, I knew I couldn’t leave my nieces and nephews out because I love them so much too,” Sandy let me know.
Sandy is one of those moms who loves making things special… and not even just for her children. At work, Sandy is always the one bringing in baking, remembering people’s birthdays, filling and emptying the office kitchen dishwasher.
“So now that the Christmas boxes are almost ready I can start planning Christmas lunch as it’s at my place this year.” she said.
“Aren’t you tired, Sandy? I’d be exhausted if I was trying to do all of this and work full time, and be up in the night with a baby!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah it’s been pretty mental. I’ve started waking up in the middle of the night with these panic attack kind of things where I’m hyperventilating and my heart is racing. But I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s just something I always get this time of year.” she said, with a sad smile on her face.
This quite simple conversation took about 5 minutes all up, but affected me for a lot longer. This blog is for Sandy, women who have ever felt like Sandy, and those who feel this time of year is difficult and stressful. Know that you are loved. Know that you have friends. You are doing a great job.
#1 Log Off Social Media
As difficult as it can be at this time of year, it’s a good idea to give social media a rest. The constant barrage of images showing everyone else’s super fun happy times at Christmas interspersed with promoted posts and ads this time of year are a surefire way to make you feel inadequate.
Try logging off social media – delete the apps from your phone entirely if you can – and go back to phone calls and text if you need to contact someone.
Even if you don’t feel like you can completely switch off, have blackout periods of at least an hour where you don’t check social media at all.
#2 Bike, Walk or Exercise Every Day
Obviously we recommend riding bikes (because bikes are rad and so are you), but if you just aren’t able to get out on the bike over the silly season, make sure you go for a walk, swim or practice another gentle form of exercise like yoga, every day.
Not only will it give you reason to get out of the house, physical activity gives you a boost by stimulating various brain chemicals that leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious.
#3 Include a Daily Meditation In Your Routine
As expectations around gifts, meals and table/house decorations skyrocket, so do stress levels. Including a daily meditation – even if it’s just 5 minutes – will help you to:
- Reduces Stress.
- Controls Anxiety.
- Promote Emotional Health.
- Enhances Self-Awareness.
- Improve sleep.
- Decrease blood pressure.
#4 Maintain Solo Tasks or Alone Time
The Silly Season’s activities means a lot of time with friends and families. On the one hand, it’s wonderful because you get to spend time with your loved ones, but on the other hand the amount of time you are spending with everyone is so far from what’s normal for you that it’s easy for tempers to rise and silly arguments to break out.
The cure? Schedule in some solo tasks or alone time. One of my favourite things to do is work on my bike. It gives me an opportunity to head into the front yard, or even just the garage, put some headphones on and just do some basic maintenance on my bike – almost like a moving meditation.
Try scheduling in the following activities and choose some of your favourite tracks to keep you company:
- Cleaning and lubing the chain (10 minutes)
- Cleaning and polishing the bike (15 minutes)
- Replacing your bar tape (25-30 minutes)
#5 Reach Out To Friends
Remember that Christmas is not a happy time for everyone. Some people battle the memories of devastating losses. Some don’t have friends and families around them to celebrate with.
Far more important than trying to work out how you can build a gingerbread house from scratch in between preparing a christmas ham, is giving your friends a call or a text and making sure they’re doing alright.
Even friends like Sandy who appear to have it all together can be the ones who need the most support.
Be kind to eachother out there.