A Christmas Full of Self Care and Permissions.
It’s hard to believe, as we are nearing the end of 2020, there’s growing pressure already to enjoy the Christmas Festivities, whilst we are still processing the chaos of the preceding months. Many of us are in search of something normal, maybe so we can feel ‘COVID-19’ has slipped by, even for a second, to gain what we think or feel will be normal practice again in our everyday lives. It’s hard to dance and celebrate on sand and even harder on water.
Let’s be honest to ourselves, it’s not normal times. It’s not a time for many people wanting to be full of Christmas cheer, some of us are glad to have made it in 2020; whether that’s in our home life or in the workplace, others will have watched friends and family suffer unimaginable change, loss and grief. Choosing whether you see your extended family or not, to keep them safe, a decision none of us ever expected to make yet here we are, making decisions without openly recognising how sad and painful this could be. This year has been tougher than we ever could have contemplated, and we should take time to recognise this year for what it is, hard.
It’s really easy to just carry on, ignoring the signs of a long weary year. How many of you have felt unhappy, tearful, overwhelmed, scared, felt the need to run or escape social media and the continuing bombardment of COVID-19 news. Recognise one or two or all of these emotions? I certainly have, since the day the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, I have experienced all levels of emotions and continue to do so.
How can we become braver? To share how we feel? Share the burden and explore what is happening on the inside not just the outside. How do we summon the courage to talk about it, in a space, with no judgement?
Do we have the courage to seek the support that Therapy or Coaching can provide?
I’m asked often, how do we look after ourselves and our family, friends at Christmas time and beyond, knowing it’s been a tough year but craving some fun times? When I start to reflect on my own self-care measures, it’s clear how we must all start to adapt to a number of Self Care priorities, Permissions and set clearer Boundaries. Something to think about for you and your teams.
Here are some thoughts and tips when managing Christmas, with no judgement and plenty of permissions.
Self-Care and Permissions
To understand yourself is not being selfish, it’s the care that’s required to enable you to support your own well-being and others around you. What is self-care? There are no set rules, but my ideas are:
- Walks in the fresh air with your friends, family and much-loved pets (maybe more friends). If family are always asking you questions constantly or requesting time, then rescue yourself. Many of my friends call this ‘escape to the ME room’, don’t worry about being honest, everyone feels frustrated by being at home right now, be honest with yourself and your family.
- ZOOM online, the only way to see your friends indoors, seeing your friends online is a huge treat BUT be careful, zoom fatigue is on the increase.
- Give yourself at least an extra 20 minutes ‘ME’ time, every day. Go ahead, I give you permission to lay in the bath longer, extend your yoga by a further 30 minutes, play tennis with friends, kick a ball, run with your kids or simply read more on the sofa with a cuppa. Whatever makes you feel as if you are looking after ME.
- Release yourself from your technology, pack it away, even for an hour.
- Feel thankful on your good days. Let the energy of happiness be absorbed into your memory bank, embrace it whole heartedly and go on to accept that some days are not so good, but we still must process the feelings. Treat yourself, start again, tomorrow does and will feel better.
- You are never alone, there are always people and supportive networks around you who are ready and wanting to listen. Hugs really are required, even more so this year and even if they are from afar, take a hug from an email, text or phone call, feel the warmth of care.
- Yes, teenagers are particularly scratchy at the moment. Life hasn’t been fair for many of them but give them space to breathe and accept that you cannot change their moods, but you can support changing their frames of reference, by reminding them that this will not last forever. Sunny days in a park with friends does matter and a bit of outside time, away from tech, will support a clearer mind. If you do think further specialist support is required, you can always contact your doctor or local support groups. It’s important you ask for help together.
- Make sure you start to explore and understand your limits, know when you need your space and set your structure to match your needs.
- Set the timings you need for Christmas to be successful, inform family of a start time and end time. There’s nothing wrong with seeing family, having lunch and then escaping home to your safe environment where you enjoy your Christmas evenings, films, music or books on the sofa. I give you permission to start your journey to ensuring your boundaries are clear with everyone and relaxing into a festive break. The New Year will require the same from us.
- Saying No is often hard for all of us, but once you start, you realise how empowering the word is in managing your boundaries and self-care. Say no, remain calm and remember, explain your ‘no’ and ask for help with supporting yourself. If Christmas is just too much and you can’t seek support you need with your family, friends and colleagues, there are some great resources available to us, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can highly recommend the following websites and their call handlers are there for you:
Young Minds (Children and Teenagers)
Heads Together (Teenagers and Adults)
Mind (all ages)
Finally, as we move into 2021, we must start accepting our bodies and minds will need extra help to work through the ‘emotional scar tissue’ of COVID-19 on us mentally and physically. Counselling and Coaching are important aspects to our well-being, extending in to the workplace, as well as personal lives. Over the coming months, at SYLO | Beyond HR we will be engaging further into both spaces, as part of our People Support services, ensuring we all feel supported at this time. We are here ready to help you understand your journey more.
I wish you a safe Christmas full of permissions.
By Clare Sandman, Counsellor & HR Consultant with SYLO | Beyond HR.