Suffering from Christmas overwhelm? You’re not alone.
While it can often make for the best of times, it can also make for some of the most stressful ones too – leaving many of us feeling down, overworked and frankly, exhausted, it can take its toll on our mental as well as our physical health too.
It’s vital you take some time to nurture yourself – both mentally and physically – around the hustle and bustle of it all. But when we are so busy how can we squeeze this into our hectic days? Well – the answer is to micro-dose on self-care. Just 10 minutes is all you need to press pause, and give your mind a little break. Micro-dose on self-care throughout your day over Christmas to help prevent overwhelm and burnout.
Even though it may seem like the right thing to do, routinely dismissing your own needs can have an adverse effect on your overall health. It can make you irritable, fatigued, stressed and susceptible to a full-blown burnout. So, in order to save your health (and sanity), make time for self-care!
Even when you feel like you have ‘no time’ for self-care – keep yourself topped up on self-care with these micro self-care tools:
Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Do not underestimate the power of a deep breath. These precious seconds may be the difference between loosing your cool and responding calmly; between feeling overwhelmed and staying focused.
I honestly believe that energy boosting breathwork can be better than caffeine. Use the power of breath to create an incredible feeling of energy, clarity and focus through your body.
If you’re not breathing optimally, you’re robbing yourself of energy. The way you breathe may be causing you to feel tired, fatigued, foggy, and uninspired. This is because proper, controlled breathing ensures an optimal oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange. This is vital for high energy and mental alertness levels. Since oxygen is the breath of life, it’s rocket fuel for the body and mind.
With this exercise, we’re focusing on deep, diaphragmatic breathing. This means we’re not using out chest or upper body to breathe. We are engaging our lower belly as we inhale and exhale. On the inhale, your lower belly should rise outwardly. On the exhale, the lower belly moves inwardly, towards the navel. These movements draw air into the lungs, and not just the upper lungs, as in chest breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing fills every part your lungs, including the lower parts.
Do this simple breathing exercise twice a day or whenever you feel yourself losing steam:
- Deeply exhale with a whoosh sound
- Deeply inhale through the nose for 4, hold for 7, exhale through the mouth for 8
- Repeat for 4 breaths
You can integrate breathing into your daily living very easily — you simply have to be conscious of it. When you wake up in the morning, think about it. When you go to sleep at night, think about it. Instead of yelling at a red traffic light to change, focus on your breath. When someone is talking to you and you have no interest in what they are saying, turn your attention to your breathing! When your toddler is driving you mad….you get the jist!
2. Cup of calm
When you start feeling a little overwhelmed, this is a great ‘2-minute’ self-care tool. Mindful meditation doesn’t need to take a long time, just 2 or 3 minutes can be enough to give you a little space to slow down, press pause, re-connect and re-energise for the rest of the day. So if you are feeling a little stressed, just a couple of minutes to practice this ‘cup of calm’ mindful moment …
Make yourself a cup of your favourite warm drink and sit down. Notice three things in this moment – the colour of the drink, the weight of the mug, the feeling of the chair. Then consciously breath into your shoulders, try and relax them down a little and enjoy your cuppa – savouring the flavour. Return gently to the senses whenever you notice the mind straying into thought. Be open to your senses, rather than try to analyse what’s happening.
3. Say no more!
As a mum, you can often feel like you’re pulled in a million different directions trying to please everyone in the family. You might even feel guilty about saying no to certain requests from family members, children or friends. But you shouldn’t! It’s okay to say no sometimes, and to not take on extra work on your plate when you don’t think you can manage it or it will stress you out. Remember to look after yourself as much as you look after others around you, or you could be in danger of burning out.
‘No’ is such a small word yet so hard to say! You can say no and still be a good friend, colleague, sister, person. Sometimes you’ve just got to take care of YOU.
Saying no is empowering. Saying ‘no’ is a massive self-care gift to yourself. Even saying ‘yes’ to things you are ‘meh’ about means you will be out of time and energy for the things you want to give a big fat YES to. So if it’s not a hell yeah – it’s a no. Design your life around the good stuff, make space for that first so that the not so good stuff slowly slips away.
Here are a few ways you can say ‘no’
- While my heart wants to say ‘yes’, the reality of what’s on my plate right now makes this a ‘no’ for me at the moment. Thanks for thinking of me.
- I am really touched by your request, and although it’s hard for me to say ‘no’, it is so necessary. I’m grateful that our relationship allows me to be honest about where I am.
- This sounds wonderful and as much as I would love to be involved, I can’t give it the attention it deserves right now. I am cheering for your success!
- No, thank you. (sometimes it can be as simple as that!)
4. Develop an attitude of gratitude
Gratitude is a fantastic little mindset makeover tool and something that you can practice throughout the day as you go, so it doesn’t add anything extra to your ever-mounting ‘to do’ list. Just try and slow down just a fraction, just enough to briefly ‘press pause’ and just try and be in the moment of whatever you are experiencing and mentally note down what you are grateful for in that moment.
So for example – a child’s laugh. Just be in that moment and mentally note down how grateful you are for that magical laugh. DONE! That’s it. Try and rack up as many of these as you can throughout your day. This micro self-care tool will help you embrace the everyday magic amongst the chaos and whirlwind of motherhood. Magic moments, are all around you if you can just try and tune into them – and if you can you are going to feel more positive, happier, grounded, calm and in control. You will shift your mindset into a positive ‘high vibe’ zone – and you will start to actually subconsciously train your brain to see more positivity all around you and in return this will attract more positivity into your life.
5. Assess your energy and mood hoovers!
Self-care is hard and sometimes means setting tricky boundaries and letting go of the stuff that drains us.
I’ve talked quite a lot about how you can boost your energy and shift your mindset with tools you can add into your daily life…but what about the stuff you can LET GO?
What saps your energy and hoovers your mood? What could you do with saying ‘goodbye’ to in order to fill your self-care cup with a little more energy?
Make a list for yourself, and try to stop just a few of these things. You will gain SO much more quality time in your life. Here are a few ideas for your ‘stop-doing’ list:
- People pleasing
- Negative self-talk
- Overthinking things you cannot change
- Mindlessly scrolling social media
- Negative people
- Dwelling on the past
About the author
Louise Murray is a Holistic Health Coach with the qualification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and a Mindfulness Teacher. She takes a truly holistic approach to health and wellness by nourishing people ON and OFF the plate by coaching them with nutrition advice combined with lifestyle and behaviour change, healthy habit formation, mindset tools, mindfulness and self-care practices