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The twelve days of Christmas survival guide

Updated: Dec 20, 2018

Love it or find it completely sensory overload? Christmas is here. Everything is brighter, louder, busier. Routines are completely out of the window and it can be hard to make time for yourself or the things you need. Here are my 12 tips for putting yourself first and keeping yourself sane

Yes I have an icecream on my tree because I am a grown up who gets to decide what Christmas means to me

1) Acknowledge how you are feeling.

By acknowledging it, it puts you in a position of power to be able to work out if you like / can tolerate how you are feeling or if you want to make steps towards changing it.

2) Write down your expectations.

Are they realistic, Are they rules you or someone else has created for yourself. For ones you would like to achieve ask yourself what the outcome you are expecting is and if it is worth it. If it is write out a list of what actions you can do to achieve it. Remember you can't control other people's behaviour.

3) Spread out commitments or celebrations

Breaking them into smaller manageable activities and ensure that some are things that you are looking forward to. Put something in the diary for a date after Christmas that you are looking forward to.

4) Let go of expectations and say no.

Society has a whole heap of expectations and traditions that are meant to make us feel “magical” and festive”. It’s OK to say no to the things you think you should be doing, you do not need to live up to others expectations. Your needs are as valid. Also if you have been on automatic, say no to the next thing your brain adds to the “to do list” and sit for a minute. Put boundaries in place for yourself.

5) Let go of expectations and say yes.

I am aware this in direct contradiction to the above top tip, but sometimes we can be too shut off. If you’ve noticed that you are becoming self-conscious and withdrawn then try saying yes to an invite or opportunity. It’s OK to think of ways of making in more manageable such as saying you will only be able to pop in to say hello at the start.

6) It's OK to change your mind.

You’ve planned something, you’re all set and suddenly it isn’t living up to expectation or you don’t want to do it anymore. It’s OK to be flexible and change your mind!

7) Go for a short walk every day on your own.

The cold air is not as bad as you may think. As I’ve talked about before, moving outdoors has so many health benefits and can really help the stress level.

If you’re on your own at home getting out the house will increase your chance of connecting with others.

If it’s others you are trying to escape, the advantage of a short walk is if you need an excuse to get away from others there is always something that needs popping to the post box or something to pick up from the shop. Pop your headphones on and send a clear signal to the world that you are not communicating for those few minute.

8) Do something kind for someone else.

Research has shown that giving a gift has a longer term impact on your well being than receiving one. Planning out and doing 3 random act of kindness in one day can boost your subjective well-being for up to two weeks.

9) Do some weight training

Lifting heavy items gives our bodies feedback and is neurologically calming. If your local gym is closed then you can always get this feedback through lifting up objects around the house to reorganise a room or by doing some gardening.

10) Moderate your alcohol intake.

Alcohol is a depressant. Is the way you feel afterwards worth it? Pace drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.

11) Listen to your body’s need for food.

Food is more than fuel: it holds emotional connections, we can associate it with certain people, memories or emotions. If you are going to over indulge then rather than beating yourself up over it, acknowledge that it is a choice you have made and that you do not need to repair any guilty feelings – a few extra calories is not going to harm you. If you feel pressured to eat, then plan ahead and identify some safe foods that you can have a small amount of on a regular basis.

12) Play.

It’s not just for children. Be creative. It’s not about the outcome either it’s about the process. Spend time making lego, painting, dancing, or dressing up a felt pig decoration called Alan.

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