Christmas Self-Care Checklist

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Hello my lovelies,

Yes, it’s that time of year when we’re all supposed to feel peace, love and happiness, but in reality we likely feel exhaustion, resentment, grief, unappreciated, stressed or lonely.

Eugh. Sounds depressing. But there’s good news. First up - you’re not alone. Many of us feel this way, and it’s totally normal. Secondly, our old friend yoga is here to help.

I’m not talking so much about the poses (although some physical movement will help too). Yoga has so much more to offer than that.

I’m talking about self-care - using the tools of yoga to change your life experience from overwhelm to enjoyment.

So here is my Christmas Self-Care Checklist - little tips, tricks and techniques - most of them pretty easy to achieve - that will help you to manage any difficulties over this period.

GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO TAKE SOME TIME OUT

Allow yourself a few minutes each day to just be alone. If, like me, you feel guilty if you’re not present with other people all the time, why not take a longer shower each morning, or offer to nip to the shops to pick something up (invent something that you need at the shop!). Just a few minutes alone like this can work wonders on the nervous system. Even better, book a yoga class, a haircut or massage and enjoy an hour or more to just focus on you.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO RECEIVE

Christmas is all about giving - not just the gifts, but also our time, attention and energy. And many of us have a little bit of control freak in us (me too!), so it can be hard to let go and allow someone else to take control or do something for us. But if someone offers to bring the cake, or clean the kitchen, or do the driving on New Year’s Eve - give in to that, let it happen and bask in those moments of being able to truly switch off. Your nervous system will thank you in the long run (even if Auntie Betty does ruin the cake!).

BREATHE

All my regular students know that I probably say the word breathe about 100 times in each class! But that’s because it’s sooooooo important. Not just the automatic breathing that happens all day, every day. I mean slow, conscious and mindful breaths. If you have the skills, you can take a few moments to do a specific pranayama (breathing) practice. If not, don’t worry. Wherever you are, take a moment to become aware of your breath and simply notice it. See if you can take 3-5 breaths like this (and don’t worry if it’s hard, just come back to it!) each time you start to feel stressed, and notice the difference.

MAKE ROOM FOR GRIEF OR SADNESS

If you are missing someone, regardless of the circumstances, allow yourself to experience any grief or sadness that arises. Squashing those emotions will not make them go away (what you resist persists) but honouring how you feel will make your path a little easier to follow. And remember, joy and sadness can exist in the very same moment, so allow memories to come up as they need to to allow for this to happen.

LASTLY, AND (MAYBE) MOST IMPORTANTLY - FIND SOME HEADSPACE WITH DAILY MEDITATION

Now if you’re already into meditation, you’ve got this - awesome, and keep up the good work. But if not, you’re likely thinking “That ain’t happening!”. Meditation is this big, scary-sounding thing where we’re supposed to sit uncomfortably on a cushion and empty our mind of all the thoughts for 30 mins each day, whilst looking very zen… Who on earth has time for that? Right?

Well, let me tell you a secret. It turns out meditation is not about emptying your mind of thoughts. Say, what? Yep that’s right - meditation is NOT about emptying your mind of thoughts. Trying to empty your mind of thoughts is completely fruitless - it’s not going to happen. You are a thinking human being. Thoughts - and loads of them - are inevitable.

Also, meditation doesn’t have to take a long time. You can start out with just a couple of minutes here and there.

So, let go of that idea that you have to spend hours trying to stop your thoughts, and instead focus on the idea that meditation is going to make you feel awesome! If you’ve never done it, it’s hard to believe, I know. So, why not give it a go? What’s there to lose?

Still not convinced? Need to see some evidence? Sure… have a gander at this to get you started, and find out from the neuroscientists how meditation not only reduces stress but also changes your brain.

There are tons of great meditation apps out there now to get you started. My favourite is Headspace. Their tagline is Brilliant Things Happen In Calm Minds - how can you not love that? Headspace is all about a type of meditation called mindfulness. This is simply about being more aware of things as they are happening. Headspace offers hundreds of mindfulness meditations on everything from stress to sleep, from beginners to advanced, including bite-sized minis for when you’re pushed for time.

You can try it for free, or take advantage of their current special offer and save almost $40 on an annual subscription. Find out more here.

So that’s my five tips for Christmas Self-Care. I practice all of those things regularly, and especially at busy or stressful times (but don’t worry, even yoga teachers fall off the wagon sometimes and lose track of these things).

Remember, self-care doesn’t have to involve big or grand gestures. It can be as simple as noticing three of your breaths in a row, whilst chaos ensues around you.

Take it easy,

Claire

Claire Lane