Festive season self-care
As paradoxical as it sounds, it is when we are the busiest that it is the most important that we create time for some self-care.
Neglecting to look after ourselves during the festive season can lead to the kind of deep exhaustion that potentially manifests itself in pretty unpleasant ways (i.e. family gathering melt downs, ugly crying in the car at the supermarket carpark, telling your boss what you really think of them after too much champagne etc).
As much as you may enjoy a late night Netflix binge or a session of Instagram scrolling, these kinds of activities don't generally refuel our tank. Self-care looks like doing something that allows you to truly rest, relax and restore.
If you've hung around this space for a while now, you'll know that the ethos behind Nourish and Nest is all about enjoying small rituals, achievable moments of self-care, accessible to anyone.
Perhaps take a moment today to think of a few simple self-care rituals and then create a small pocket each day to mindfully and intentionally partake in one.
We're all individuals and what works for one may not for another, but here are some simple examples of self-care that work for me:
- Taking a bath, even if I only have 10 minutes to spare. I love to add bergamot, ylang ylang and lavender oils and to use a Lemongrass Nourishing Body Bar.
- Sitting in the sun and sipping a Refresh tea
- Doing a few restorative yoga poses (legs up the wall is an instant calmer for me)
- Giving myself a massage with olive or macadamia oil (and a few drops of the aforementioned essential oils), making sure to include my scalp, before jumping in the shower.
How can you care for yourself today?
Wishing you a peaceful, happy Christmas,
cheerful and jovially celebratory
I am aware (and pretty mind-blown) that people from both the northern and southern hemispheres read this blog. People in their 20s and people in their 60s. Single people, people in families, people who work outside the home, people at home full time with kids and people of all different belief systems. I appreciate the feedback I receive (especially this week!) and the insights into your lives that you share. It makes me mindful of the great big mix of us out there (and challenges me to write here a bit more diligently next year).
It would be crazy to write here as though Christmas signifies the same to everyone. But whoever you are, chances are that unrealistic expectations and good intentions and the beauty and busy-ness of tradition and giving are weighing (possibly a little too heavily) on you this festive season.
Maybe you're prioritising, simplifying, staying true to your values and choosing kindness, compassion etc etc.. but can I remind you to also have a little fun? Or a whole lot of fun? To cheerfully and jovially celebrate!
Whether it is being grateful for the good things that went down this year (and however difficult a year it has been, there is always some good amongst it), celebrating your family, having fun with old friends, meeting new friends and obviously if Christmas is spiritually significant to you, celebrating the sacredness of what this time of year signifies.
Have some fun! Kick off your shoes, do something a little out of the ordinary, organise some revelry. Drink champagne on a school night, get up on the dance floor, sing out loud, play like a kid, swim in the ocean.. whatever brings joy to you!
We’re midway through a week-long series on bringing more calm & joy into your festive season.
The honest truth is, I’m writing what I need to be reminded of myself.
In the midst of the marketing mayhem that seems to go hand in hand with Christmas, it feels right to have another voice amongst it all, gently encouraging us to slow down a little, breathe, prioritise, simplify and be present for the beauty amongst both the ordinary and the chaotic.
If you haven’t read the previous three posts, I encourage you now to do so. Once you’ve stopped to clarify what really matters to you during this season, it makes it so much easier to prioritise, simplify and bring more mindfulness to your days.
Today, can we talk a little about energy?
The kind that we carry with us, the kind that we bring in to a room or a conversation with us. Chances are that you’ve experienced being with someone whose energy completely shifts the dynamic, whether positively or negatively, whenever they’re around. If that’s the case, I don’t need to tell you just how powerful the energy we bring into a situation is.
I remember heading out last Christmas Eve. I probably had a child or three in tow. There was food to buy as well as a couple of presents I’d forgotten and a few errands to run too. Nourish and Nest can be quite the beast in the lead up to Christmas (which I am super grateful for!) so I was exhausted to boot.
I remember thinking that I wasn’t going to get it all done and dreading the chaos that awaited me, already picturing stressed-out shoppers and crazy parking lots. I recalled past years of seeing road rage and rude people ramming you with their shopping trolleys and was already prepared to have a horrible experience. I was in a pretty negative headspace to say the least.
I decided to do a little experiment. I told my girls that it was our job today to bring as much kindness as we could to everyone around us. To let people into line before us, to smile at everyone we saw, to wish people a Merry Christmas and even leave a few treats on people’s doorsteps without them knowing (my kids are always on board if you add an element of sneakiness).
I knew some positivity couldn’t hurt but I remember being blown away but the resounding difference it made to our day. I became aware of everyone smiling back at us, I started noticing people doing small acts of kindness for one another and we seemed to get everything done without the crazy hustle.
The energy that we bring into our days isn’t just a service to those we interact with, it profoundly affects our experience as well.
Today I want to seek the good, bring joy and kindness and a little more patience.
Wishing you the very best of days,
Before we can even begin to experience gratitude and find beauty in everyday moments, we need to be present in those very moments to begin with.
If you're anything like me, you can be physically present at times but mentally miles away. It robs us of the beauty of the moment and creates a sense of unrest.
This time of year can find us rushing from place to place and it is easy to be never really present, always thinking about all that needs to be done or where we need to be next.
Adding a little mindfulness and presence to your day can profoundly increase your contentment and calm, whatever the day might bring.
Here are a few simple ways to be more present today:
- Stop for a moment before you hop out of your car to take a few deep breaths and choose to ‘arrive’ and be present.
- Look into people’s eyes when they're talking or when you are talking to them.
- Choose to stop several times throughout the day and take a few deep belly breaths. Maybe each time you stop at a traffic light, put the kettle on or use the photocopier at work?
- Become aware of all your senses – what can you see, feel, hear and smell in this moment?
I hope that wherever today takes you, that you can be all there.
Simplicity looks different to each of us and changes throughout the various seasons of our lives.
But whatever our lives may currently look like, it is profound the difference it can make to our days when we begin to look at situations through the lens of simplicity.
And what better time to seek simplicity than during the busy festive season?
Embracing simplicity can be as easy as asking yourself throughout your day:
Of course, there is busy-ness that is realistically unavoidable during the festive season (and every season) but we can seek to not overcomplicate these things that do need to be done.
Tradition can be a comforting and bolstering part of our festive season but we needn't be afraid to change things up a little if those traditions cause stress and pressure.
Whether it is having conversations with family or friends about alternatives to gifts or a kris kringle style set-up if present buying is spiralling out of control, simplifying gatherings by getting everyone to pitch in or just not trying to cram in an unrealistic amount of things into our days.
How can you embrace simplicity today?
Welcome to the beginning of December, the commencement of Advent, and for many people a very full and busy festive season.
If you read my previous post, you'll know that overwhelm and December used to go hand-in-hand for me. And unless I am very intentional and mindful about it all, that definitely seems to be the default for this time of year.
But it doesn't have to be.
I'm not saying the festive season isn't busy and possibly stressful and emotional. But we also have a lot of control over how this season looks for us and, if it applies, our families.
It all begins with deciding in advance how we want it to be.
Would you humour me for a moment?
Please pause, take a breath and consider the following questions. Perhaps grab a piece of paper and jot your answers down...
What do I love about the festive season?
What small rituals/traditions are important to me?
What is it about this time of year that really fills my soul?
What stresses me about this time of year?
What do I want to say yes to?
What do I want to say no to? (and please remember that you are allowed to say no!)
What are the small ways in which I can care for myself this month?
Now that you have your answers to these questions, pull out your dairy/calendar and look at the month ahead.
- Have you made time for the things you love? Perhaps it's baking or catching up with old friends for drinks or making gifts or reading certain books with your kids, visiting family or people significant to you or volunteering with a certain charity. Book those things in now. They're what matters.
- Are there things on the calendar that you need to get rid of? We can't always say yes to every single invitation or expectation. Once your calendar is as full as you're comfortable with (remembering to fill it with the things important to you, not the things you feel socially obliged to do) you have total permission to say so. You won't be able to do everything and please everyone, the sooner you make peace with this, the happier you'll be.
- Have you booked in some self-care? Time to look after yourself has to be created, not found. A night in, a long bath, a day when you turn your phone off, a late night candle-lit cup of tea when everyone is in bed. It doesn't have to be elaborate or time-consuming. Just a moment to do whatever nourishes your soul.
Here's to a calmer, more joyful December.
CALM + BRIGHT
A week-long series beginning at the start of December & Advent.
Simple thoughts and inspirations for a calmer, more joyful festive season (and a calmer, more joyful you!)
Because what better time to enjoy small rituals, embrace simplicity and find beauty in the everyday than at Christmas?
Simply sign up for one week of simple, gentle, daily inbox reminders on how to avoid overwhelm this December.
Every year without fail, I would find myself sitting in the waiting room of a doctors surgery a couple of days before Christmas. Tonsillitis was the usual unwelcome visitor but some years my body threw in some other kind of virus or infection just to keep things interesting.
This began long before I had children and the cycle only really stopped a few years ago. Whilst the malady may have differed, the cause was always the same. I was simply exhausted. Burnt out, run down, knackered.
Not just due to being busy at work, but because I was thoroughly overwhelmed. You see, I love festivities - people, parties, events - and get pretty excited about all the opportunities to make and cook and entertain that the festive season provides. Now these are all good things of course but I found that I couldn't say no to ANY of it. On top of all that, I would put highly unrealistic pressure on myself that Christmas was going to be *perfect* and that I had to have any unresolved issue in my life (or mind) fixed and and tied in a neat little bow by the end of the year.
Yep, no wonder my tonsils gave out.
When I started to embrace simplicity in my life, which was essentially the beginning of Nourish and Nest, I started applying those principles to Christmas too. And it really, really helped.
Especially once I had three children on the scene, I realised I wanted them to have beautiful memories of this time of year, not of a manic woman who was too frazzled and frantic to enjoy it all.
The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind of projects and events and plenty of hard work, up until the last two weeks when I experienced the rather humbling back-to-back visits of both a nasty infection and the flare up of a neck injury. I just got back on my feet after feeling quite poorly with the infection when I was laid out again with a seized up neck and a considerable amount of pain to go with it.
It was a timely reminder of the importance of self-care, especially at this time of year, and of being intentional about how we spend these celebratory seasons. What really matters, what really doesn't and how to be present and joyful and content throughout it all.
So, for my own good, I have put together a little series for the first week of December - Calm + Bright. I need it and I thought I would share it in case you do too. Think of it as a week of daily ideas and inspirations for enjoying small rituals, embracing simplicity & finding beauty in the everyday this festive season.
Want to join me? Simply sign up below and you'll receive your first e-mail on December 1st.