The importance of self-care at Christmas
Maintaining self-care at Christmas time ---- Understanding the risks associated with loneliness --- Getting in touch with and coping with the effects of bereavement --- Avoiding overindulgence --- the importance of a social support network
Christmas can be a time essentially about connection, whether that is in a physical sense by family and friends coming together or the sense of ‘home’ we may feel by engaging in the festivities at this time of year. It is also a time when we tend to slow down. These two factors can bring joy but can also potentially induce feelings of grief for past losses. We may be confronted with mixed feelings about where we belong at this special time of year and who we are missing. Christmas songs can rekindle old memories of past family occasions as well as sad feelings about lost loved ones. Social media can be full of stories of others having supposedly perfect times but we don't know what is really happening behind closed doors.
Christmas also marks the ending of the calendar year and this can induce greater introspection when we reflect on the previous 12 months and perhaps who we have lost during the year. This can potentially magnify sorrow. It is important to try to be kind to ourselves and allow a space for feelings to be processed but it is also important to ensure that we have access to a social support network at this time of year. It is important to plan to have someone to talk with to help process these feelings.
Christmas can also be a time of getting in touch with unfulfilled expectations from childhood. The magic promised by the fairy lights on the Christmas tree may not have been delivered and old emotional wounds may have been repressed.
A robust and healthy self-care regime should include a solid social support network in order to avoid the pitfalls of unwanted loneliness. We know from research findings that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking as many as 15 cigarettes a day. Social connections are even more important at this time of year. Social networks help individuals to recover when they do fall ill, as well as countering and reducing the risk of mortality or developing certain diseases.
Try to focus on spending time with positive people, ones who can lift your spirits. Often people in your social circle can be hard to get hold of at this time of year due to family commitments or travel, but a bit of planning could compensate for this. Perhaps there is a volunteering opportunity in your community which will give you the opportunity to connect with other people and where you can help others who are less fortunate. Try not to overindulge over the holiday period. Overindulgence can offer a temporary high but will be followed by disappointing flab. Try to exercise regularly as getting the blood pumping can help you to clear your mind and can help to maintain emotional equilibrium.