It’s always an interesting time sitting down to write a Christmas blog. Sometimes, I find it hard to pick a subject: Should I talk about how to stick to healthy eating over the festive season? Or about the stress of funding Christmas? Should I speak to the thousands of women in our community who will be alone this Christmas? I’ve been there too! Or should I delve into how to navigate a relative that you’re dreading seeing at the annual family celebrations?
Whatever situation you’re in, this time of year can be both joyful and stressful, so here are my practical tips for navigating Christmas in order to stay balanced in body, mind and soul:
• If you are worried about overeating, you have two choices. You can either go with the flow or learn to say ‘no’. Some of you will want to stick to your healthy eating regime because you know how good it makes you feel, but you might feel the pressure from others to eat things you wouldn’t usually indulge in. If your deepest desire is to eat well and not plummet off the wagon with a gigantic thud, then stand in your place of strength and power, drop the guilt of offending someone and remember to say the powerful words ‘no thank you’ whenever you need to!
If, however, you want to indulge in some of your favourite festive foods on Christmas Day, then by all means do so without guilt. Let yourself off the hook and enjoy yourself. Make sure you eat small amounts (not the entire Christmas pudding!) and get back on track after Christmas. Creating healthy boundaries and non-negotiables within yourself will make all the difference. You might want to adopt my motto when it comes to food: ‘If it’s worth it, eat it. If it’s not, don’t!’
When it comes to eating – over the festive season and beyond – the key is to stay present and mindful. There is no point in eating an entire box of chocolates, feeling sick and then beating yourself up about it. Enjoying one or two of your favourite morsels is a far more fulfilling option!
• Make sure you have plenty of healthy food options around that you enjoy without feeling as though you have to miss out. Making a healthy platter to take along to celebrations is a way of ensuring you have yourself covered.
• Don’t overspend! It’s so easy to be over-generous and give more than you can afford. I’ve always been guilty of that, but it’s easier to opt into a Secret Santa and make agreements on limits with family than it is to overextend yourself and be stressed out heading into the new year! Nothing beats a homemade gift from the kitchen made with love!
• Keep a check on your emotional wellbeing. It’s important to keep in touch with your moods over this time instead of switching off to them only to find yourself eating to self-soothe. It’s normal to have fluctuating emotions during this time; try not to avoid them, but let them be so they can move through you. The more we try to suppress and avoid our emotions, the more they persist. Feel them, and release them.
• If you’re lonely, reach out! Being a divorced parent, when my girls were younger, my ex-husband and I would swap the girls every second year after lunch on Christmas Day, so we’d have either the morning or evening alone. Some of those years were tough! But I reached out to whoever I could and gratefully accepted the invites that would come my way. Reaching out and connecting with others face to face is far better than sitting at home alone feeling lonely and depressed. So please put yourself out there if you are in this situation.
I also have friends who volunteer each Christmas at homeless shelters or rest homes. As the experts attest, the fastest way out of depression is to contribute to making other people’s lives just that little bit more joyful in your own way.
• If you’re dealing with grief this year or this is your first Christmas without someone important, try to focus on gratitude for having had that person in your life. Think of as many fun times and memories as you can, light a candle at the table in their honour and reminisce on the funniest moments that you shared. It is way more uplifting to focus on gratitude than it is on loss.
• Lastly, if you’re dreading facing a family member who triggers you like no other person on the planet, be present! Take deep breaths, don’t bring the past into your mind or conversation, and try to focus on the present moment as much as possible. Be the observer! Other people are our mirrors, and those who trigger us the most have a lot to teach us about our own ego. Remind yourself that you aren’t what other people think or say about you. Don’t be affected by other people’s behaviour, as it’s none of your business.
I like to refer to American author, speaker and self-enquiry teacher Byron Katie’s three businesses: your business, other people’s business and god’s business. Stay in your own business!
Whatever you’re doing over the festive season, set your intention on having as much fun as you can, and reach out to people you haven’t seen in a while, particularly if they are lonely. And never forget that food and healthy nutrition should always be a pleasure! Cook and eat with love and laughter knowing that you have the tools at your beck and call to quickly drop any extra pounds this season may bestow upon you!
Merry Christmas and lots of love