This year, the usual Christmas festivities are put on hold for many of us. Families and friends cannot gather as they usually might. The salve we’ve been offered for a year of trials, trauma and missing out is more of the same – staying home. However, we are all in desperate need of rest and rejuvenation, and this is a gift that we can offer ourselves over the festive season, even under the new, painful, regulations.
But, resting at home may not seem very appealing right now – especially since it may feel like we’ve been in some sort of enforced rest since March. So here’s a few more creative ways to reset and get some true restorative relaxation over the festive season.
- Offer yourself a pause on any life questions you may be grappling with
2020 and the greater challenges we’re dealing with as a global community hasn’t put a pause on the more everyday, but no less significant, stuff of life. Perhaps you’re struggling with a personal relationship, or trying to make an important career or family decision. But decision-making depletes mental energy, and when we’re already tired, this can be draining. If it’s possible, consider offering yourself a brief moratorium until the new year. Perhaps without applying fretful thought to the issue, deeper reflections will rise up from your well-rested soul.
- Turn off your phone notifications – especially in the morning
I don’t know about you, but my scrolling tendencies have never been so bad as they have been these past few months – and my phone usage statistics can testify to it. But I know that when I don’t look at my phone for the first 30 minutes of my day, I feel so much more in control. During this time where much of public life is mediated online, it can be tempting to be constantly connected. But try creating a digital sabbath – at the start of the day or perhaps once a week – and see how it makes you feel.
- Try restorative yoga or reclined meditation
If you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, you might struggle to relax even when given the chance. Deep breathing, meditation and restorative yoga help us to unwind by regulating the nervous system, encouraging your relaxation response to kick in and reducing your levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Restorative yoga, where a very small number of poses are moved through for a longer period, allowing the body to fully relax into each posture, is a great option if you’re new to meditation or find yourself getting fidgety when you meditate. Try this soothing blanket yoga with Adriene, or this replenishing yoga nidra – a form of yogic meditative sleep (thanks to @mishapatelyoga for sharing this one with me).
- Have an unstructured, uncalendarised day
Allow yourself a day to be ‘unproductive’, just for a short while, stop living your life according to the demands of the clock. If a whole day of constructive not-doing feels unrealistic or frankly frightening, set aside just a few hours – but make sure you honour the full time. Drift about a bit and just be flotsam.
- Spend time in nature
I couldn’t possibly write a list like this without mentioning the many, well-documented benefits of spending time in nature. It’s doesn’t have to be a ten-mile hike and it doesn’t have to be a national park – a brisk 15 minute walk around the nearest park or green space provides many of the same benefits, including the production of stress-relieving endorphins.
- Honour your feelings
We are experiencing a type of complex, collective trauma which we are yet to process. This Christmas will feel different for each of us and for many reasons, and this may be deeply disappointing. But fighting how you truly you feel is taxing. If you can, honour everything you feel, be that easy or challenging. And if you’re struggling, please don’t be afraid to reach out to your support network, or speak to the wonderful people at Samaritans, who will be on the other end of the phone all Christmas.
Sending you peace and sweet rest this Christmas.