Navigating the last bit of 2020
The home straight of 2020?
As we march through December and into the Christmas home straight, (a time of year that is frequently hectic and stressful even without a pandemic to cope with), we are facing a very peculiar set of circumstances.
This year there will almost certainly be fewer social engagements, something that might be a very welcome thing for some but feel like a big loss for others. Despite the extra pandemic regulations taking some seasonal decisions out of our hands, we may still have to navigate the sometimes difficult negotiations of who we spend Christmas with, perhaps with even more complications than usual. Again, this could be welcome or further add to the stress, depending on your particular situations or how you like to spend this time of year. Whilst our calendars may be feeling less of a strain there will almost certainly be other pressures that we are facing in terms of concerns about health, finances or further isolation or separation from our loved ones.
A Tumultuous Year
It would be rather stating the obvious to say that much of this year has been challenging. When I flew home from my trip to California in the middle of February the rumbles of a pandemic were only just starting. I, like a lot of people I think, thought it would probably all just blow over or turn out to be a minor inconvenience at worst. I don’t think many of us had any idea how this year would progress and the sort of, yes I am going to use that word, ‘unprecedented’ changes we would all face. Nearly ten months on, we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel but we are most certainly not out of the woods yet.
So, as we contemplate the remaining few weeks of 2020, a most tumultuous of years, it will be helpful for most of us to take a little time to consider what self-care provisions we could put in place. As humans, how well we look after ourselves tends to be a fluctuating thing. It is common that we do less well with self-care at the times when we most need it. You will likely have some idea of the kinds of stresses you typically face at Christmas time and you may be all too aware of the particular challenges facing you and your family this year. Below I have set out some suggestions for ten things that might help you navigate the holiday season with greater ease. Not all of these will be relevant so perhaps choose one or two that you think would be most beneficial to you.
Top Ten Tips for navigating December 2020
- Plan, plan, plan: Sit down with a note pad, by yourself or with other key people in your household, and make a plan. Try to identify those tasks or times which are likely to cause the most stress and ask for help in distributing the jobs that need doing. Consider how important each of the things on your list are and whether they are worth the work involved in making them happen. A more streamlined list might be the way to go.
- Be honest with yourself: If there are difficult decisions to make about who you will spend time with find someone to share this with. Aim for a frank discussion, if possible, with those involved or ask a friend to be a sounding board. Taking some time to ask yourself honestly what you would most like to do can also be a good place to start. This can be a hard thing to do when we might be worried about others or feel guilty about our own preferences, but dig deep and ask yourself what your number one choice would be. If you at least tell yourself you will then be making any decisions with conscious choice about where you are happy to compromise.
- Consider your food and drink choices: Most of us enjoy at least a little overindulgence over the festive period and there is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps though, consider making a loose plan so you don’t end up feeling worse for it, undoing hard work you may have put in through the year or adding further stress to existing health problems. For example, giving yourself a few days where you eat more healthily in the run up to those days where you will be eating more can help to keep things in balance. Deciding how many days, over the holidays, alcohol will be on the menu, (if you enjoy a drink), can also be a way to ensure you don’t overdo it. There are a lot of good alcohol free products coming onto the market so there are alternatives if we can get in the right mindset and think of it as a way to take care of ourselves.
- Get moving and connect up: One of the ways we do have more freedom to meet up with others at the moment is outside so why not consider using this to add a bit more exercise or gentle movement into the festivities? Meet up with a friend for a gentle walk, a hike, a jog or a cycle, according to your preference and get in some healthy fresh air and some social time. Even some of the more introverted of folk have found themselves missing human connections this year so put some dates in your diary to see the people you miss if you can.
- Dream time: Getting enough sleep is so important when we are facing extra pressure. If you struggle to sleep, or to get to bed, see if there are things you might be able to put in place to help. Get started on your night time routine half an hour earlier and consider switching off the TV, laptop, phone or tablet by a set time to give your brain a rest. Plan in a relaxing bath, a little gentle stretching or curl up with a good book as ways to begin your wind down. Meditation and Reiki, (if you have an attunement and can use it on yourself), can also be great ways to relax and help your mind be quieter.
- Drink more water: Keeping ourselves adequately hydrated is always important but many people find it a hard thing to do. It may feel even more difficult now the weather is colder but will be particularly important if you are likely to be eating more processed or salty foods or drinking more alcohol. Get yourself a bottle and decide how many you plan to drink each day. There are lots of apps that you can use to log water intake if that approach might be helpful for you.
- Something for the mind: Meditation or mindfulness can be great ways to help us feel calmer and more in control. There has been so much this year that has plunged us into chaos so picking up the reins, where we can, can help manage any anxiety we may be feeling. There are lots of different ways to practice meditation. You can listen to a few of my meditation tracks for free, download them for a small fee or I even still have a few CDs available to buy! There are two more of my weekly online meditation classes left before Christmas, (10th and 17th December at 7.30pm), if you would like more personal guidance, motivation or some company.
- Reiki can help: If you have ever received a Reiki Attunement why not cup one or both hands and place them on or near wherever is most comfortable on your body right now. You can then finish reading this article whilst allowing some of that wonderfully relaxing energy to flow into your body. Yes, it really is that simple to practice Reiki on yourself once you have been attuned, even if you haven’t used it for a long time. If you have yet to be attuned I am holding my last Level One Class tomorrow, 6th December, or why not book yourself in for a class in the new year? There is also still time to book a Reiki session in before Christmas. If you do have an attunement you would be welcome to join one of my online Self-Reiki Shares. There are three left before the end of the year.
- Reach out for help: And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling. This might be from a friend or family member or a professional of some kind, depending on what you need. Most people don’t feel bad about asking for help from a plumber or electrician if that isn’t their area of expertise and our mental, emotional and physical wellbeing is no different.
I am here if I can help
I have decided to take my own advice, take a proper break and hopefully have a little time away in early January. I’m very much hoping that no further change in regulations get in the way! Please do take good care of yourselves and don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some help or guidance.
Dr Karen Janes ©
5th December 2020
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