Updated: Apr 17, 2019
Self care seems to have been a bit of a "buzz" phrase from 2018- but what does it even mean? It will in fact most likely be very different for us all, but the overall premise is of taking actions or creating #healthy habits (even just very small & simple ones) that help us to maintain or work towards a #happier and #healthier us.
"The practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health."
"The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress."
"Expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care."
December can be a time when the busyness of the #festive season often sees self care take a back seat, or be rushed through with no real thought or #intention. Invitations to parties and events, often feeling pressured to not let family or friends down, buying gifts, temptations of lots of food and drinks that we probably wouldn't usually have- you know the score!
Predictable given what I do for a living I know BUT #Yoga really can be your saving grace this time of year, and actually incorporates so many self care and healthy habits in itself. Breathing, #mindfulness, taking time out, #relaxation, #meditation, being present- plus of course the actual physical side of moving the body!
The studio might be closed or you might not be around, but you could dedicate even 10-15 mins per day over the holidays wherever you are to your practice, and to your own self care.
Invitations to parties, dinners, drinks come flooding in and it can all feel a bit overwhelming. Personally I find it really hard to say the simple word "NO" for fear that I might upset people or let them down. Its definitely something that is a work in progress for me!
But its actually really important to say no at times if we simply don't feel the event is for us, don't feel that the person/people at the event are necessarily ones that will or do have a positive impact on us emotionally, or we quite simply have too many plans and need some time out. It isn't selfish, its absolutely necessary to say no sometimes, and a healthy self care #habit.
Just like at any other time of the year we can't please everyone, and though it can be tough for some of us, we need to work on accepting this.
Schedule You Time!
Just like you are marking those days off in your diary for the work #party, dinner with your partners #family, drinks with your University #friends- schedule time for you in the same way! Note it down as a "date with yourself" and most importantly- KEEP THAT DATE!
You don't have to justify taking time to yourself to anyone, including yourself. Just like other self care and healthy habits it is absolutely necessary, and should be a none negotiable.
Keep it Simple!
For some of us (myself included) self care or "me time" can be limited due to a busy schedule, but even dedicating one evening a week for a few hours to have a bath, moisturise, read 10 pages of a book, eat something healthy & nutritious, and get to bed early can be so beneficial.
The key for me is taking time to do something I may not usually- like reading or taking a bath, and when I say taking time I mean #mindfully and slowly doing these things, rather than rushing through from one thing to the next which can often happen in #life, and particularly at this time of the year.
I also find its key for me to not over complicate and make the self care and healthy habits counter- productive by making it into some kind of task list (work in progress) that I need to "get through by X time", or have so much that I want to try and get done that it actually it becomes impossible and stressful as opposed to #relaxing!
Simple one, yet really beneficial. Christmas is definitely a time when we will likely indulge a little more in some yummy mulled wine, #cocktails, or whatever our Christmas tipple of choice may be. It might even be that we are so busy doing the everyday stuff plus trying to keep up with extra social events, and prepare for Christmas that we just simply forget to stop and take a drink of water or tea.
Likewise we may feel that #coffee is helping us stay awake, but lots of caffeine isn't necessarily good for us. So whilst I'm not saying give up the coffee (as that would be blasphemy lol), I am saying try to be aware of staying hydrated. For me that means carrying my reusable water bottle with me, and the great news these days is that lots of places will fill it up for you for free.
Nourish the Body!
Just as we want to nourish the mind and soul by spending time with the ones we #love and give us good #energy, Christmas can be a time when we feel its OK to not nourish the body well. And to some extent it is. I'm not saying don't enjoy that extra slice of Tofurky or #cake (or 3), but why not just add some extra helpings of the healthier and more nutritious foods onto the plate in good measure too? I mean who doesn't love #sprouts? But seriously though, if you don't what even are you about!!
Ultimately the cycle of just scoffing whatever we want even when we aren't hungry doesn't benefit us- we feel bloated and sluggish and can also drift into a bad head-space of regret and feeling we have to purge and not eat once the New Year comes, or go to extreme measures at the gym (or even Yoga studio) as a #balance to what we consumed. This isn't what balance or healthy habits are about!
For me this is so important as I can spend a lot of time inside teaching, writing, studying so when I have some free time I want to get some fresh air. It can be tempting as the days are darker and colder to just stay in under the blanket and continue to binge watch friends (true story) but even getting a little bit of #freshair for a quick #walk to move the body and stimulate the mind can be so beneficial. EVEN BETTER- why not think about leaving your mobile at home? I know, crazy right- but it's Christmas and time to be #present, so maybe the phone can take a back seat just for some fresh air time?
Getting outside into nature just for a little while can have a super calming and soothing effect on us!
Parties, excessive eating and drinking, and more tamassic or rajassic foods and drinks than we might usually consume, can send our #sleep all over the place, as they have such an effect on the body and mind. Its hard to stay in a sattvic state generally, and even more challenging over this period but getting not only a good amount, but a good quality sleep is super important.
I'm not going to say too much about this as I feel like a fraud offering advice on something that is an up and down one for me, BUT generally speaking trying to set an ideal time for bed on as many nights as possible, and also keeping a good wake up routine each morning (even though I might want to just roll over and stay in bed) has helped me.
I know some nights over Christmas may be later, but I also know that lack of sleep has a really bad impact on me, my eating habits, my motivation, my emotional #wellbeing- so if I have to bow out early of the party I'm (mostly) cool with that to save myself (and everyone else) from the horror of a grouchy Karine lol.
December is noisy isn't it? Michael Buble warbling down the speakers in Starbucks and the shopping centre (though I avoid them like the plague at this time of year especially), excited children (and adults), busier public transport, busier homes, and the general buzz of excitement at this time of the year can be beautiful but also be deafening. Taking some time away each day, even just for 5 minutes to step away from the buzz, close the eyes and breathe in peace and quiet can be absolute #bliss!
Christmas can be a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a stressful one if we allow it, and allow ourselves to fall into a trap of trying to please everyone, and be everything to everyone. Its OK to say no, to take some time to ourselves, to go to bed early- basically to do whatever nourishes our body, mind and soul. And if all else fails- just take some deep breaths and remember how awesome you are!
Do you have any top tips for self care through December and the festive period? I would love to hear them!
Until next time...
Namaste, K x