The buzz of Christmas in the UK often begins as soon as the shops have packed away their Halloween decorations, wrapping each individual skull and zombie face to reuse the following year. As this happens, the Christmas decor is swiftly unwrapped, put up to remind us all that, soon enough, workers and students alike will have a varying amount of time off to over-indulge in every way imaginable, from drinking copious amounts at various social functions to pushing through anxiety and/or hangovers to meet those you promised you’d catch up with back in August.
“It is a time of greed disguised as goodwill, with stores manipulating the true meaning behind the holiday for the sake of capital gain”
Christmas can be a stressful time for many and for a number of reasons. It’s when the idea of “family time” is emphasised to a suffocating degree, especially for those who are estranged from their kin. It is a time of greed disguised as goodwill, with stores manipulating the true meaning behind the holiday for the sake of capital gain.
Given that Christmas isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, here are some ways to ensure that, through the intensity of the holiday period, you don’t lose sight of what is most important; yourself.
1.Just say no
In no way a tribute to Nancy Reagan’s anti-drugs campaign in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the power of saying no is one that is tested considerably during the festive season. Evenings after work and weekends are swiftly filled up with plans made not entirely within your control, under the guise of “university reunion”, “there’s this indoor market in Central I want to check out” and “let’s start our holidays early!” All very well-intentioned reasons indeed, but evening after evening of late nights and early starts leaves very little time for you to get on with what you need to be doing (otherwise known as “life admin”).
But more importantly, filling your schedule to the brim takes time away from the level of self-care that you perhaps ought to be engaging in. So just. Say. No. Say no to going out for the third day in a row, say no to the emotional blackmail disguised as friendship, and say no to putting yourself anywhere but first.
2.Give a little
As important as it is to engage in self-care during the Christmas period, it should be balanced carefully with care for others. As I mentioned above, not everyone’s Christmas will be merry, and as a way to avoid being totally swept up in the capitalist intensity of the holidays and also as a way of remaining realistic of the goings-on outside of your own personal world, it is worth giving back.
When my family and I celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr (a Muslims’ version of Christmas, as mentioned to me by many an individual), we often donate the money we would spend on each other to charities. It’s a small gesture but is a way of keeping ourselves aware of others.
3.Don’t regret anything
Christmas time signals the ending of the year gone by, meaning that it can be easy to fall into a trap of looking back and potentially regretting decisions made. Instead, I suggest recalling achievements and celebrating them, but more importantly yourself. You’ve had a year which may have been difficult and hard, as well as joyful and exciting, but the fundamental fact remains that you made it through. So, what better way to celebrate yourself than at Christmas time – a period dedicated to joy? Be aware of yourself, the goodness that you exude and be content in the progress you have made, knowing that there is so much more to come.
I think the main thing about maintaining self-care at Christmas is that it is imperative that it’s not left by the wayside – it can be easy to get caught up in the festivities of the holiday period and ignore potential triggers, as well as things that are significant to you. Be merry, be cautious but most importantly, be good to yourself.