Christmas can be a wonderful time of year, but it can also be overwhelming, and you can be desperate for some time to yourself. Please don’t feel guilty for that or be made to feel selfish for taking time out, it happens to a lot of people.
The other feelings Christmas can cause is feeling like you’re not good enough. One thing I want to say is whatever you do for Christmas, you are good enough.
This post is to give you a list of some things you can do when you need to take some time to yourself. They are all things I have tried myself when I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and they have helped.
1. Curl up and read a book
Reading a new novel or an old favourite can bring a lot of happiness to you. Not only does it occupy your mind, but it also helps you escape to a different world. While I was researching this post, I came across a little-known mental health therapy called bibliotherapy.
Bibliotherapy is a form of therapy that involves reading. If you are under a clinic’s care, they will recommend books for you to read. You can undertake bibliotherapy yourself, according to Psychology Today:
“Several studies indicate that reading works of fiction can be of particular benefit to people with or without mental health difficulties. These studies indicate that reading fiction can increase reader empathy, social skills, and inter-personal understandings”.
There is a charity in the UK called ReLit who focuses on bibliotherapy. You can find more information about ReLit and their work here.
2. Go for a Walk
Going for a walk is a brilliant way to take some time for yourself. Not only does it help you burn off any post-Christmas dinner calories, but the fresh air will also help clear any cobwebs, give you some peace and quiet, and give you a vitamin D boost. I appreciate there’s not a huge amount of sun at this time of year, but any sunlight exposure will help to increase your vitamin D levels.
3. Write in your gratitude journal
I have recently become a fan of using a gratitude journal as it helps to focus on the positive things in life. It’s helpful as we all focus on the negative, and not the positive. You don’t need to buy a fancy notebook to start a gratitude journal either. You can use any notebook you already own.
If you look on google, you can find a huge array of prompts, but I’ve collated some of my favourites for you. The Gratitude Prompts are available on the Resources page. To access the page you need to subscribe to receive emails from me and you’ll get the password.
Meditation can help in several ways. It can reduce stress, reduce anxiety, enhances self-awareness, increases your attention span, improves sleep, decrease blood pressure, and you can do it anywhere. There are different types of meditation available, and you may need to try a few different types to see which one works best for you. I use the Calm app which is available on both Android and iOS along with guided meditation on YouTube.
5. Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations can lead to an increase in positive thinking. They are phrases or mantras you repeat to yourself to which can help rewire your brain and break negative actions. There are a variety of positive affirmations online. If you struggle to remember to say them, write them on post-it notes and stick them somewhere you will see them daily.
· I will be present in every moment
· I am smart
· I am kind
· I am brave
· Today is a great day
· I am beautiful
· I love and approve of myself
· I am worthy of love and joy
· I am not my mistakes
· I am enough
6. Have a Nap/Rest
This is one of my favourite things on the list. Why did we use to fight having naps when we were younger? If you are struggling with your mental or physical health, a nap can help you to feel better. At Christmas, it is perfectly acceptable to have a post-Christmas dinner nap especially if you’re not feeling great. I’m all about naps at the moment as I’m not sleeping well, and I keep having flare-ups. Even if you can’t nap, resting will help to revive and rejuvenate you.
7. Colouring Books/Apps
Colouring books aren’t just for children anymore. Studies have found that adults colouring in can reduce stress and anxiety, improve motor skills and vision, improve sleep, and improve focus. Grab your coloured pens/pencils or download one of the apps and get colouring. To help you out with this, I’ve put together some images I found online. They’re royalty-free and I do not own the images. The colouring books are available on the Resources page. To access the page you need to subscribe to receive emails from me and you’ll get the password.
8. Have a hot bath or shower
I was reluctant to put this on the list. All over social media, there is this misconception that self-care is running a bath with a fancy bath bomb, putting a face mask on, and you’ll be cured of everything that ails you. It won’t cure everything but having a bath or a hot shower is one way of spending some time alone. I also find that if something is playing on my mind, the steam somehow unblocks my brain and I can think clearly.
9. An at-home facial
I’ve just complained about slapping on a face mask in my last point, so the irony of this suggestion isn’t lost on me. This is more than just slapping a face mask though.
Have a look in your drawers/cupboards where you keep your skincare products and treat your face to your fancier products.
When I have a facial at home, I like to double cleanse my skin, exfoliate, steam (boiled water in a bowl will work just as well), use a face mask, tone, and top it off with a rich moisturiser. During autumn and winter, our skin takes a beating. Take advantage of the time you’re at home and treat yourself.
10. Watch your favourite film or TV series
I’m not sure how anyone else feels but every Christmas it seems like there’s even less to watch each year. Whether there’s nothing on to watch or you’re just fed up with all the Christmas films, why not curl up and watch one of your favourite films or television series. Like books, watching a favourite film or television series can feel like a hug. Plus, if it’s something you’ve seen before, you won’t feel bad for napping through it.
11. Remember to take your medication
This is quite an important one. I can be rubbish and forget to take my medication at times to the point I have an alarm set on my phone to remind me to take it. Please don’t forget to take yours this Christmas and please be careful if you’re having a Christmas tipple or two.
12. Take Vitamins
I started taking vitamins a few months ago for a few health concerns. The main ones are my hair is shedding a lot quicker than normal, my scalp has dried out, and I’m prone to catching colds easily. I also take vitamins to make up for anything that I don’t get from my daily food intake as my appetite has been terrible recently. Now, I take a vitamin D supplement too as I have had a deficiency previously and I’ve been feeling tired a lot recently.
If you have anything you’re concerned about which doesn’t warrant a doctor’s visit, you can look online to find what vitamins you need.
13. Have your favourite hot drink
Sometimes there’s nothing like a nice hot drink to make things feel a little bit better. Over Christmas, I’ll be indulging in some mulled wine but feel free to sit with any hot drink and just have some quiet time.
My top hot drinks for Christmas are:
· Mulled Wine
· Hot Chocolate – with the works, of course! It’s Christmas
· Hot Ribena – Winter Spice (it’s just like mulled wine without the alcohol)
· Homemade Gingerbread Latte
· A bucket of tea
14. Drink plenty of water
As Christmas is the one time of year we all overindulge, make sure you drink plenty of water. Not only will it stop you from getting dehydrated, but there are also other health benefits too.
Drinking water can help:
· Hydrate your skin and keep it clear
· Ease constipation
· Lubricate your joints (who knew?)
· Flushes waste from your body
· Aids digestion
· Helps boost energy
· Helps fight off illness.
15. Meet up with a friend
This is possibly a suggestion for those of you who are lucky enough to have more than the statutory days off this year. Let’s be honest, there comes a point where we ALL get sick of our families and need some time away from them. Why not see if you can make plans to go for a coffee with one of your friends. It gets you out of the house, gives you a chance to get some fresh air, and it’s always fun to meet up with a friend.
16. Give yourself or go get a Manicure/Pedicure
A manicure/pedicure is something that’s always fun to do. I’ve written both give yourself or go get a manicure/pedicure because I appreciate that if you suffer with anxiety, it may be difficult to go to a salon. I will always give myself a manicure/pedicure at home because it means I don’t have to get changed out of my lazy clothes and because people.
17. Light your favourite candle or wax melts
There are those nights where lighting a candle or your wax melts just helps you to relax so grab your favourite scent, turn down the lights, and enjoy.
18. Listen to your favourite music and dance
Okay, the dancing part is completely optional but listening to music can help to improve your mood. If you want to dance around your room like a loon, there is nothing wrong with a disco for one! Just have fun.
19. Have a pj/comfy clothes day
I feel like this one is something a lot of us already do. If you don’t have a comfy clothes day, getting them on and having a lazy day after Christmas is always a good use of a day off. I’ll be rocking my leggings over Christmas in anticipation of the post-dinner food baby.
20. Try to eat healthily
Maybe this isn’t one for Christmas Day or Boxing Day when the temptation of chocolate for breakfast is great but do try to make healthy choices after Christmas. It will make you feel less sluggish.
21. Say No
Christmas is the season of goodwill so saying no is a bit of a strange one to have on the list. The thing is, at Christmas we feel obligated to do things we don’t want to do. It’s okay to say no if you don’t want to do something over the festive period. Don’t feel forced to do anything you don’t want to do.
22. A gift to you…
From you, love you. That’s right, I’m talking about treating yourself! Whether it’s something you’ve had your eye on for a while and it’s now in the sales. Maybe it’s something you wanted, and Santa didn’t bring it this year. Whatever the reason, buy it. It doesn’t have to be anything big either, it could be something small.
23. Curl up with your favourite blanket
Curling up with a blanket is possibly my favourite way to spend a chilly day. The best thing is you can combine the blanket with a lot of the other things listed here. Sometimes we all need to grab a blanket, curl up, and hide away from the world until we’re strong enough to deal with it.
I’ve shared this list in the hope it helps anyone who is feeling overwhelmed. If your Christmas day isn’t great or you just can’t shake off any bad feelings, that’s okay too. As the first part of this post says, don’t feel guilty for that or be made to feel selfish, this includes berating yourself.
I hope you have the best Christmas you can. If you’re alone this Christmas, please search #joinin on Twitter. Sarah Millican started it a few years back for anyone who is alone or lonely over Christmas. If you want to help someone, feel free to message there too.
If you’ve got any tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, please share them in the comments.