At this time of year, the Brain Fit family are frenetically trying to finish off incomplete work projects, tying up loose ends, wracking our brain cells to come up with interesting and novel ideas for Christmas gifts for the family, and feeling bad that we’ve failed once again to get the Christmas cards done in good time, we haven’t ordered the food needed to feed the five thousand and the Christmas decoration are still stuck in boxes at the top of the hall cupboard.
We’re looking forward to drawing a BIG FULL STOP and looking forward to some time out, to relax, unwind and catch up with family and friends.
What my husband really enjoys is being able to step away from his voluntary and other duties that normally chew up a lot of his time, and do something different, like formulating new ideas for his next project, spend more time down at the beach walking the dog, ocean swimming or planning our next trip away (probably still in WA).
He’s full of good intentions to also pay more attention to his sleep pattern, to do more exercise without injuring his back and to go for his annual check-up with his GP – with some extra encouragement from his wife!!
What does self-care look like to you at Christmas?
- Is it time off from work to spend with the kids with a holiday that includes sand, sea, and sunshine?
- Is it indulging in those special treats you don’t normally allow yourself, like strawberries dipped in dark chocolate or a giant cheese board to graze on while watching the sun go down?
- Or is it sleeping in because you don’t have to go to work?
Whatever your version of Christmas self-care looks like, the question to ask is, why are these only possible during your precious time off?
What if you were to nurture and include more self-care into your regular day, every day? What difference would that make to your energy levels, your mood and overall wellbeing?
It’s well understood that self-care is a critical component for our general health, mental wellbeing, resilience, and optimal performance. We know how important it is to pay attention to the food we eat, the amount of activity we get in our day and the quality of sleep we obtain and yet…
Let’s face it. We know what we need to do, but we don’t, and then we end up riddled with guilt or give up all hope and abandon ourselves to letting go.
If you start your New Year gently chiding yourself,
“I really need to lose some weight”
“I really should make more of an effort to get to the gym.”
“I must cut down on the booze and do dry January.”
Stop! This wishful thinking is unlikely to succeed and serves only to add to the shame and self-loathing that can result.
Let’s get a couple of things clear.
Self-care is about those embedded habits you have learned serve you well and keep you at the top of your game.
Making self-care more appealing as a goal is knowing that,
- You always have a choice. To do or not do. Simple. And it must be YOUR decision not someone else’s.
- You have more than enough motivation. It’s about finding what kind of motivation works best for you – and it doesn’t have to be anything big.
- Being told you must do something takes away your autonomy – and that feels like a threat, even if it’s you telling yourself!
- Try asking what you might do, that would not feel too onerous, that you’d enjoy doing and it’s something you WANT to do. Does that feel better?
- Imagine how you’d feel if you were doing all those things that energise you, provide you purpose and meaning and give you a sense you’re in the right place, because you belong.
We’re funny creatures. If you’ve ever found yourself overthinking something, making it a bigger deal than it needs to be and expending a huge amount of precious time and energy going round and round in neural circles, you’re not alone.
The good thing is, you can learn ways to do things differently, courtesy of your amazing plastic brain that is continuously rewiring itself in response to our ever-changing environment.
Your self-care matters. A lot.
To enhance your mental wellbeing, let’s get back to basics and start by building your awareness of what matters to you, what you like doing, what you’re prepared to stop doing and what you’re willing to change.
Because you can.
And because your health and wellbeing matters, to you and your family.
Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase
If psychological safety, resilience and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.