Xmas – give yourself the best present ever: YOU
by Susan Scully
Does Christmas signal a time for joy, to take stock of the year, to appreciate and celebrate? Or do we use it to give ourselves a licence to abuse ourselves silly, and maybe even others? Or is it a mixture of both? This thought-provoking article by Susan Scully encourages us to examine the way we approach the holiday period, and how we can change it.
Once the clock strikes 12.01am on 1 December, wind-down mode and the party season goes into full swing. It’s often a time where what we could actually get done or complete is left unattempted or unfinished; where new projects are often held-over until the following year – which might not be helpful for your workplace, home or business.
On the other hand, what’s also interesting is that rifts with others are also put on hold: everyone seems happier and friendlier, with a general mood of ‘‘tis the season to be jolly’ prevailing.
But let’s return to the first point. Why does not only work but everything – our daily regimes of diet, exercise and rest, our relationships and so on – get put on hold or go out the window for this one month of the year?
This delaying or ditching of responsibilities and our established and supportive routines in December then often stretches into the New Year, as by then we have to deal with the aftermath of the party mode we’ve been living in for the past month; eventually returning to life as it was where we left off on 30 November just in time for February, when reality bites and we have to ‘knuckle down’ again.
In other words, our one month of party mode turns into another month of recovery.
We need to ask ourselves: are we really jolly or ‘healthier, wealthier and wise’ come the New Year? Or are we even more tired, worried and exhausted – not only from the aftermath of our pre and post-Christmas celebrations, but from the build-up of the past 11 months (if not years), with not even a hint of the kind of rest and rejuvenation we’d actually need if we were to arrest our momentum?
It’s not that we’re not allowed to enjoy ourselves – December is actually a beautiful month in which to connect and reconnect with our colleagues, friends and family, and celebrate the year that was. And yes, even be silly, in the playful sense!
This however begs another question – why is it we save or reserve fun and enjoyment until then? And why then does this often need to be at the expense of our health and wellbeing, leading to a state which ultimately affects not only ourselves but everyone and everything around us as well?
Why too do we wait until this one month to reward ourselves for a long, hard or busy year, to the release the pressure cooker? There’s absolutely no reason to feel we’re not deserving of letting loose or letting our hair down – we absolutely are – but does it all have to be saved up for December?
Perhaps the story actually begins with us accumulating tension due to things not attended to, completed or resolved on a more regular or every day basis.
In other words, rather than tending to, dealing with, debriefing or working through whatever is presented each day – so that nothing is stored or held on to that might create pressure, anxiety or worry – we accumulate tensions. These then have us relying on an internal ‘reward system’ of our own design, justified by a ‘I’ve worked hard so I deserve it’ mentality.
Not dealing with a situation at hand can result in a festive season blow-out – let’s be honest – a pattern throughout the year of days off and an over-reliance on weekends, holidays and outside-of-work-hours-time to escape and or release the tensions we’re feeling and make life ‘worth living’.
There’s a daily impact too in not dealing with what presents for us each day results in habitual over-eating, needing caffeine and sweets, alcohol and drugs, excessive exercise, entertainment and more – whatever we use to as temporary fillers or distractions so we don’t have to think about the day (or days) we’ve just had – anything that “takes the edge off the day”.
So while we might be able to say life might feel merrier for a while as we experience the relief or satisfaction that results from our use of various diversions, getting our reward, we end up with a situation that means we have to repeat it all over again the next day… and the next and the next and the next.
It’s true: life can be a mixed bag of ups and downs with some very interesting and curly moments – a roller coaster of sorts. But it’s up to us to figure out how we handle or address what is presented during the day and ask for the support needed, otherwise we’re locked into an endless loop where we allow the world or another to dictate and control how we live and move rather than us moving and living our way – the way that you know truly supports you and in turn others.
Does the idea of getting off this merry-go-round sound like music to your ears? What about the possibility of arriving at the Christmas season not already tired, exhausted and wrecked? Possible? Yes.
The key lies in starting to take care of ourselves. This means taking care of every aspect of our lives – diet, exercise, work, relationships, finances, etc. – on an everyday, on-going basis rather than saving or quarantining the care of ourselves to a particular time of the year. It’s about building an everyday consistency and commitment to yourself and others – not letting go of the very foundations that support you.
Start to break the momentum you might be in by discussing your day with someone. Stop and appreciate yourself and the day you’ve had whenever you can. What is key with appreciation is that you are appreciating the way you live and your unique inner qualities that support then with everything you do each day.
These are simple yet much more enlightening ways to ‘deal’ with rather than reaching for a filler to take the edge off the day or brushing your concerns or feelings aside for another day and by introducing it will pay off in volumes, and in more ways than one.
So why not start now and make December not only a time to celebrate but an opportunity to take stock and appreciate, to review and assess what’s worked and what hasn’t throughout the year?
And there’s no need to make it about judging, being critical, fixing or solving anything – just about being honest and recognising, for example, maybe you have been too hard on yourself and or perhaps others; that your finances or health or relationships might need looking at.
In this way, instead of making Christmas a time to ‘recover’ from the year that was by wrecking ourselves, why not simply use it as a time to start to let go of what has not worked to date.
This approach could well free you up for whatever’s next; to appreciate what has worked and to keep going with refining these things as and when needed; to celebrate and embrace the learnings of what the year has offered in all its twists and turns.
And of course this includes appreciating and celebrating the people and relationships in your life that support you to be you.
So why not give and receive the best Christmas present ever – YOU – where you, and everyone else, gets the healthy, vital you (the real you) and not the tired, worn out version.
Links for further information and practical supports
The Ultimate Detox
Exercise and stretching
Gentle Breath Meditations
Support with anxiety, stress and worry
Modalities and services