Christmas can be a time of celebration and fun, but for many of us it is also a challenging and unsettling period. While this festive season will look very different to previous years, it might still offer familiar stresses such as returning to a family home, or trying to meet several peoples’ needs under new restrictions. So here are six soulful ways to stay grounded over the festive season, no matter how you celebrate it.
- Maintain one self-care practice, big or small
If you travel to be with family or friends in the holidays, your routine may get thrown off completely. You may not be in your own bed – you might move around several times to visit friends or family (restrictions permitting…). Your home may be overrun by shrieking relatives (adult or child).
But no matter what happens to your usual routine, commit to maintaining one thing each day which is just for you. It could be listening to some music quietly in bed before you start your day. It could be meditating for ten minutes. It could be having a bath. It could be counting ten slow breaths as your shower heats up. Whatever it is, hold to it firmly. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to let it slide when things get hectic.
- Create an anchoring affirmation for tricky moments
If Christmas promises to drudge up difficult memories or puts you in the way of family members you struggle with, choose an affirmation which you can return to. It could be something like:
‘my life and my achievements are valid’
‘I am grounded and centered in my own self-worth’
‘I am enough just as I am’
- Create your own sacred rituals
If Christmas, the Christian story or the mainstream festive narrative that is wheeled out every year is not meaningful or helpful for you, December still offers a range of opportunities to engage with the sacred. Give yourself permission to honour this final month of the year in your own way. A few ways of doing this could be:
- committing to a daily journalling practice throughout December
- a quiet candlelit meditative reflection on the year that has passed. What might you allow to fall away as this year comes to an end? What might you like to gently invite in as a new year begins?
- taking cold walks at sunrise – since it happens later – you can actually capture some phenomenal skies without haven’t get up at 4.30am…
- explore the many traditions associated with yule, which invite in an appreciation of nature, the strange and enticing magic of the winter woodland, and a celebration of the winter solstice on the 21 December, which marks the moment the days start to grow longer again…
- explore advent through @theadventproject – a lunar-inspired queer advent journey. Each day of advent, the ‘advent fairies’ bring a simple reflection straight to your Insta feed. A lovely way to navigate advent with a friendly community
- Refamiliarise yourself with anti-racism resources (specifically for those of us with white privilege)
Discussions with family members you don’t agree with can be very stressful. But these are rare opportunities to have honest conversations about issues of equality such as racism, trans rights and fatphobia. Before Christmas gatherings are upon you, check out resources for having difficult conversations so you feel equipped and don’t simply want to shut down or run away from such conversations – often we are the only people well-placed to have these tough discussions, if it is safe to do so
- Ask a friend ahead of time if they’d like to do mutual text-support with you
Just knowing someone you trust is there can make all the difference. Code words welcome e.g. ‘BRUSSEL SPROUTS!’ could be code for ‘my dad is driving me insane!’
- Aim for radical self-kindness
While the festive season, no matter how Covid-adjusted, may offer a very welcome change in the routine of 2020, your body, mind and spirit may still be processing huge amounts of stress, grief, trauma, restlessness and more from the year. If you’ve had practices and rituals which have helped you during this most challenging of years – stick to them over December as best you can, and try to rest as much as you can. An affirmation might be: may I offer myself what I need this Christmas. Let self-kindness be your gift to yourself this festive season.