Christmas, it really can be the most wonderful time of the year but it can also be a really difficult time for a lot of us. The pressure of the Christmas ads and society telling us how our lives should be looking, what we should be buying, the smiles we should have on our faces. It can be hard, overwhelming and sometimes just too much.
So this year I have decided to reclaim what I would like Christmas to be and make my festive period all about kindness. Kindness to myself, others and the planet rather than endless gifts, over consumption and often stress.
Firstly this isn’t selfish. I often find if I am not being nice to myself I find it very difficult to be nice to others. So lets start with us. Be kind to yourself.
- Plan your time – not to a military degree as this often back fires and makes me feel more anxious but make plans with those people you are desperate to see well ahead of time, get the time blocked out in the diary and then you’ll know where you are when and can be more chilled about everything else.
- Let go of expectations – your festive period does not need to look a particular way. It doesn’t need to be Instagram perfect. If you want it to be then that’s your choice but don’t feel the weight of expectation. If people are visiting you then they shouldn’t care how you/your house/your food looks or is and if they do then I’d have a think about how you can work around that expectation. Think back to happy occasions and remember what you truly remember about that event, it probably isn’t the place cards
- Be honest – yes there is give and take in making plans and seeing people over Christmas but no one likes someone being in a huff because they’ve been backed into a corner. Be honest about your thoughts on presents, your emotions and feelings and time spent together although you might still have to play that game of Monopoly that you’d rather not
Once you’ve nourished yourself you are then perfectly set up to spread some of that kindness to others and is there really anything better than the feeling of helping others?
Ask if friends or family need help – This could be help with Christmas or just in general. Is there a dog that needs walking, some child care you could help with, someone who runs a business who could do with an extra pair of hands. We’re all pretty good at saying we’re busy but never asking for help so even if you can’t help asking will be appreciated.
Get involved with a charity – lots of charities require extra help over Christmas. Some ideas to help could be:
- Donating unwanted coats, blankets and even yoga mats to your local homeless shelter to distribute among the homeless community in your area
- Contacting local Age UK teams to see whether you can help with out reach work, Christmas events or anything else required for the elder population. Many care homes and local charities also pop on special Christmas events and may require extra help. Reengage is a great tool to find out about these.
- See if you can give a couple of hours at your local drop in centre for homeless to help serve warm meals and chat to people. Crisis runs a lot of these services or you can contact your local centre
- The Alzheimer’s Society has an amazing volunteering service called Side by Side where you can donate your time to help someone living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Support a Woman’s Refuge. Christmas is often a point where refuge’s are busy so a package of toys for children, toiletries for mums and other goodies to make it a little special can make a real difference. Refuge has a way online to donate refuge parcels and Women’s Aid has a directory if you would like to get involved with your local refuge
Small businesses are the life blood of our country and it is true every time you buy from them (whether on the high street or online) they really do do a happy dance. When buying from a small business you are not only supporting the business owner but their suppliers too and also voting for the world you’d like to be in with your money. Small businesses are often more creative, more eco friendly and more excited about their products meaning you really do get the best.
For my pick of small businesses check out the small business gift guide below.
And finally remember to switch off. Work out how you recharge your batteries and make sure you make time for it. For those among us who are extroverts then you will recharge by being around friends and socialising. For those among us who are introverts it will be about taking ourselves off and recharging alone. Work out what works for you and make sure you make the time for it.
The festive period is not only about celebrating Christmas it’s also the culmination of a busy year and a time to stop, reset and reflect. So take some time to read, write, move your body and breathe. Keep an eye on the Yogipod Instagram feed as between Christmas and New Year I will be sharing some of my favourite yoga poses to relax with. In the meantime this gentle flow should get you feeling super chilled.
And finally is you need to escape from it all don’t feel bad. We are all different and experience every day differently so why should Christmas be any different? If you need some inspiration of where to escape to head over to the travel section of the Yogipod Journal