I don’t know how many Christmas’s now I’ve sprinted up to them with work and prep and then made it through them, and came to the other side of them and needed a holiday from the holiday?
Well this year I have a plan for this special time we call Christmas and its sunny neighbor “Summer holidays” (for those down under).
I thought it would be helpful to take a moment and prepare ourselves so that we don’t sprint through them and make it through them, but that we find joy, refreshment and wellness in this beautiful time of year.
Wellness is not just about our physical health, but also our mind, emotions, and heart.
Or as others say mind, body, soul and spirit. Well in your entire self.
So here are my 12 Days of Christmas Wellness Tips.
Take a moment to just breathe. Deep, mindful breathing can help you stay calm and grounded, even in the most stressful situations. It's a simple yet powerful way to bring your attention back to the present moment. 30s count how many breathing cycles your do (inhale and exhale= 1 cycle). Then the next 30s try and half the amount of breathing cycles you do.
How do you feel? More restful, calm, peaceful? Is your mind moving a little slower?
Find an activity that provides pleasure at least once per day. Listen to joyful music, savour a coffee or tea, walk outside, find an enjoyable activity to recuperate your energy.
Swinging on my egg chair with a good book is my special place or walking on the beach bare foot ahhhh.
3. Switch Off
Devices could almost be surgically attached to most of us now days. The addiction is real! In this digital age, it's more important than ever to take some time to switch off and disconnect from our devices. This can help reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your overall wellbeing. If overwhelmed, avoid becoming a slave to technology. Switch off phone, tablet, device and feel the freedom that comes from being unreachable and not on demand.
My worst time is bed time when just before I plug my phone in I am tempted (and usually give in) and check my emails just one last time “just in case”, or scrolling on the never ending train of social media, where your time just evaporates and you’re just left with far less time to sleep than you’d planned.
To be honest the moments that I don’t have my phone attached to me, where I actually walk through the supermarket without listening to an audio book and actually hear and talk with people are far more memorable and refreshing for my soul! Otherwise it’s so easy to miss the wonder of what is happening right before our very eyes.
4. Be Present
Being present means being fully engaged in the here and now. It's about paying attention to your surroundings, being aware of your thoughts and feelings, and not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Try this exercise take a moment and notice all 5 senses. What can you see? What can you smell? What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you taste? Take a moment and be present. We only get to live each moment once, lets not let these special moments with loved ones pass us by.
5. Be Intentional
Being intentional means you are purposeful in word and action. It means you live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to you. It means you make thoughtful choices in your life. Being intentional means you actively interact and engage with your life. For our family during Christmas it’s being intentional in remembering why we celebrate Christmas, we remember that we were given the best gift ever - Christ the Savior is born as the carol goes.
Be intentional with your time, with taking a rest, with your conversations and what you give your attention to. Be intentional to exercise, to connect and relax. Otherwise life just happens.
We've learnt to be mindful to our bodies throughout our C-section recovery. But during Christmas we can become mindful in other ways. Pay attention with openness, curiosity and flexibility to what is happening around you.
Try mindful listening with a family member or friend at Christmas...especially the one who may be a little more challenging - my mum called these people EGR = Extra Grace Required. Listen to their choice of words, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.
The challenge is to listen with only ONE agenda to understand the other persons thoughts and emotions and to remain fully engaged....amongst the realities of little ones interrupting your conversation every few minutes, of course!
This is about cultivating "focused attention".
I must say when someone’s heard me, not just the words I've said, but the heart that I've been communicating from I feel loved, valued and cared for.
Physical wellness is a critical aspect of our overall well-being. Christmas is a wonderful time to be able to exercise with those you love. We've gone for bike rides as our family has grown, sometimes walks down the river...in between delicious meals. and if you know the Moore side of my family you'll know that we delight find great delight in bringing far too much dessert for one army to polish off. So going for a walk, run, a bike a something active is always helpful both for bonding and also our digestion and our waist.
We’ve all heard the lovely goal of aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep each night but for some of us the reality is far from possible. However with the holiday times around the corner maybe with loved ones around, you could steal a little more sleep than usual? Would nana do the early wake time cuddles and play and let you shut your eyes for just a few extra minutes or an hour...hehehe That’s my favorites! Win Win, the little ones have a blast, you get a sleep and they get quality time with their favorite little person!
But bonus thought - one i’m no expert in! We we actually prepare for sleep with a brain ‘cool down’ 45 minutes before bed we can sleep so much better. Give our bodies the best chance of sleeping well. Have you ever tried a guided deep relaxation audio session? I never make the end! The other pro tip (that I still need to follow, lets be honest) - Prior to bedtime: avoid electronic screens, as these stimulate our mind into wakefulness.
And bonus tip cause what can I say I love sleep! Naps are also my favorite energy giver! set an alarm for 20mins and your can feel refreshed over 20 mins and you can wake up feeling more drowsy and sleepy!
Nourishment is not just about the food we eat but also about the thoughts we harbor and the relationships we nurture. It's about nourishing your body with wholesome food, your mind with knowledge and positivity, and your soul with love and kindness.
If you know you are a ‘mindless muncher’, make a conscious choice to surround yourself with healthier snacks, such nuts or vege platter with hummous or fresh fruit. Or take a plate and intentionally choose which delights you would like to partake in, then rather than grazing constantly all day, you sit down without distractions and enjoy every mouth watering bite guilt free. Savor the taste slowly.
Reflect on the year that has past and find the beauty, the treasures within them.
- What made you cry?
- What made you laugh?
- What took your breath away?
- What made double down on your values or maybe made you rethink what you value most.
- What strength did you find in yourself this year? what weakness did you find.
And then take a breathe and accept yourself for the beautiful, woman and mama you are. There is always time to grow and make “better” decisions, however right now just reflect and appreciate how far you’ve come!
And during Christmas, be kind to yourself, reflect on what fills your cup. Reflect on the beauty found in the imperfect, messy realities of life. Cause lets be honest as a mama there is a lot of both if we just choose to stop and look.
11. Become like a child
Sometimes we can take life so seriously that we lose the joy and beauty of life. As we grow older, we often lose our childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. But it's this very innocence and curiosity that can lead to some of the most profound life experiences. So, let go of your inhibitions, become like a child, and experience life in its purest form. Instead of avoiding that rain puddle, why not jump in it and splash about! Next time you’re in the garden, why not lay down on the grass on your back and just gaze at the clouds as they float by and see what magical shapes you can find in the clouds above. A dinosaur, a shark, a rabbit, a bird??
Amongst the endless nappies, washing, sleepless nights and milestones that our little one are yet to meet, there can be tiredness and weariness. But within them is also a reason to be thankful! We just need to be willing to stop and take stock.
Take a moment and think of what you are thankful for!
It can help us to be able to find hope with the endurance race of being a parent and find joy and appreciation for the journey we get to be on. Why not this Christmas express your gratitude towards your loved ones, and also importantly, towards yourself.
So hopefully some of these wellness tips can help empower you in the coming joyful season. Thank you for being a part of the Birthmark Sisterhood. Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas.