I can hear it now, the collective sigh of relief that is echoing around Australia as hundreds of thousands of us work that little bit less and substantially increase our alcohol intake at one of several Christmas parties. We give our colleagues pats on the back for jobs well done, we give our family members and loved one’s gifts that are symbolic of our appreciation for them, and we give the local retail trade one hell of a boost. But what do we give ourselves?
While it’s great to give your time to helping the homeless, the sick, and the disadvantaged, I believe that this time of year is also an excellent opportunity to give a little love to yourself. With work winding down and the holidays around the corner, now is the perfect time to take a break from it all and tell yourself, “I’m awesome”.
I’m not alone in my thoughts, either. Lance Picioane, Founder of youth mental health foundation Love Me Love You strongly supports the importance of taking a break to love yourself.
“Self-care is different for everyone, but the need to prioritise yourself is the same. If you feel yourself coming slightly unravelled in the lead up to Christmas or during a celebration, take a few moments to yourself to clear your mind as best as you can,” he says.
It’s no surprise that the ‘giving season’ can often leave us drained both physically and mentally.
“Whether it’s commitments with family, the kids, friends, or colleagues, you can hit the new year without really having a moment to yourself,” Lance says.
It’s not all bad news, however. The slower pace and loosened work pressures can give us the time and space needed to set some new routines.
Mental exercises like mindfulness and meditation are great to start incorporating into your routine as they can take as little as 15 minutes of your day, while more time-consuming stress outlets such as gym training and running can start when you’re on holidays or working shorter hours.
“Most people tend to gorge over the Christmas and new year break before offsetting it with resolutions, but the reality is that excessive drinking and eating can exacerbate mental health and stress problems,” says Lance.
“Good mental health is a year-round commitment, and using the Christmas break to create a routine around ‘me time’ is an excellent way of securing your defences against the inevitable stress and anxiety that will come and go 2017.”
As Matti Clements says – Director and Senior Psychologist at Mental Edge Consulting – if we are sick or injured, we take some time out, and our mental wellbeing should be treated the same way.
“I’m a big believer that mental health should be treated the same as physical injuries and that if we bring the two closer together in thinking, then we will have a better acceptance and understanding of how to manage mental health issues.”
But I Want To Give Back! Now’s The Only Time I Can!
It’s true that volunteering can be a great way to bring purpose and perspective back into your life. But if you’re feeling so overwhelmed between January and November that you feel you can’t possibly volunteer at any other time than Christmas, then maybe it’s time to take care of yourself a bit more.
Who knows, once you’ve found the balance and self-love that you need, maybe you’ll be volunteering on a monthly basis!