It’s no secret Christmas can be demanding, with studies showing that the ‘Christmas hormone’ can cause chronic fatigue. Combine that with the seemingly never-ending to-do list, and the ‘holiday’ quickly becomes an endurance test. 

Following two years without our usual festivities – light switch-ons cancelled, no pantomime or visit to Father Christmas’s Grotto, mask wearing everywhere, and tier 4 restrictions (remember those?) across much of the country – this year (hopefully) offers an opportunity to return to more normality. But with that opportunity can come added pressure. 

Rhiannon Bates, business & PR coach, and Founder of Garnet PR, says “While we all want to make up for the disappointment of recent Christmases, if COVID-19 has taught us anything it’s the importance of self-care. Take some time over the holidays to rest, reset and do what you love, ‘filling up your cup’, and make the so-called ‘perfect’ Christmas one where you are relaxed and happy, ready to go into the New Year feeling great.”

Rhiannon has shared her top five tips on how to combat the pressures of the festive season and prioritise self-care. 

  1. Empower yourself to say “no”

No doesn’t have to be a dirty word! Lean into your feelings and accept them, giving yourself permission to say no if you want to. 

Don’t want to go to that party? Say no. Don’t want to cook for 10 people and have to do all the clearing up? Say no, and book the local pub – now that we can! 

Do what makes you feel good, there are no ‘have-to-dos’ and sometimes saying no, even if it’s hard or doesn’t come naturally, is the best thing you can do for your own well-being. 

  1. Prioritise your energy

Think of your energy as your personal currency; you need to invest it wisely.

For a lot of people, Christmas is a time when we socialise more and see friends, family and acquaintances we perhaps don’t during the rest of the year. While this can be wonderful, it’s natural there may be some people and situations that drain your energy rather than raise it. 

Some people can fall into the ‘energy vampire’ camp – these are people who perhaps focus on negatives, who make you feel flat or even project their insecurities and worries onto you. It doesn’t make them bad people, just different from those who focus on positivity.

It’s important to recognise these people and ensure you take steps to protect yourself. Plan something which fills up your energy before or afterwards, limit your interactions with them if you feel called to, or even remove yourself from situations which drain you. 

On the flip side, recognise who is lifting you up, making you feel epic, unstoppable and giving you positivity. These people are a wonderful energetic investment, keep them close and invest in spending time with them over the festive season (and all year round!). Preparation and awareness are key when it comes to managing & protecting your energy.

  1. Switch off

Life hands us constant demands, especially in the ‘always on’ culture, which has become commonplace with the advances of technology, so having some guilt-free time off is essential. 

Over the past 18 months the lines between work and home life have become increasingly blurred, with the majority of people working from home. It is especially important to make sure that over the Christmas break, work/life boundaries are clear and strong, and you have time to disengage your brain and just be you again.

Pop that out of office on, turn off all work notifications on your devices or better yet delete any apps completely, and avoid your office during your time off. If you work from your dining table, then pack all of the work equipment away and physically clear your environment. Give yourself both a mental and physical break, we all need it and this will benefit you so much more in the long run than spreading yourself too thin and not actually being ‘present’ to enjoy the holidays.

  1. Remind yourself of the positives

The Christmas season isn’t for everyone, and it can actually exacerbate negative feelings for some people. Likewise, social media can wake the comparisonitis demons, especially if we fall down the rabbit hole of endless scrolling if we have more free time.

If you find yourself struggling with negative thought patterns, try to focus on all the positives in your life. A great way to do this is to get into a state of gratitude; make a list of all the things you are grateful for – this can include something as simple as a sunny winter’s day, having a roof over your head or having time off with friends & family.

And, if ‘forced fun’ and socialising aren’t your things, instead of beating yourself up for not going to all the social events, remind yourself of the extra time that you have to spend doing what you choose to and lean into the gratitude around that. By focusing on finding the positives, stress levels will drop and you can stop negativity in its tracks. 

  1. Have fun and give yourself what you need

Sounds simple but this is so important to remember at a time of year when it can feel like the pressure is on! Taking ‘you’ time over the holidays is essential to having an enjoyable Christmas and making sure you’re in a peak state going into 2022. 

Get clear on what your version of fun is and what fills up your energetic cup. Some people, particularly introverts, may find their energy is restored from alone time, others, especially extroverts, may actually thrive from socialising. 

The important thing is to let go of the guilt of wanting what you want and embrace it while being mindful of those around you. So whether it’s snuggling on the sofa with a book, a couple of hours out on a crisp winter walk with the dog or getting together with friends and family on the daily, do whatever it is that is fun for you, makes you feel great, inspired and full of energy.

The most important thing is to recognise what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, then prioritise a little bit (or a lot!) of what you love over the holidays. 2022 you will thank you for it!