Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, chances are you’ll be taking a break away from work over the festive period. This means you have a great opportunity to take stock and refocus on your own wellbeing. Over the course of the busy year, you may have lost sight of your own needs and of those things you do to refuel and keep going through the tough times.
So, here are some simple resilience tips to help keep you and yours healthy and happy during the holiday season and beyond.
Invest in yourself
Although it’s meant to be a time of peace and joy, Christmas can be an extremely stressful time for many. The present buying, food preparations, family arrangements can all mean that we spend too much time racing from one thing to another, leaving us feeling exhausted and depleted.
In order to avoid this, make sure you build time into your schedule for replenishing activities. Having a nice long bath, going for a walk, relaxing with friends, these are the things that can help you to feel rested and ready for the challenges of life.
The break over the festive season is also a time to look at the balance between demands and recovery in your life. Are you making sure you take time away from the sources of your stress to engage in the activities that you love? It can be such a struggle to keep these pursuits going when work and family life become overwhelming. But, these activities are crucial to our wellbeing. Whatever your passion – knitting or rock climbing – the things we love doing bring lots of benefits and provide a huge boost to our levels of resilience.
So, if you’ve let a hobby slide or you’ve been thinking about taking up a new one, now is the time to put a plan in place. Take a quick look at your diary and schedule in a time to make the preparations needed to get going with your hobby. Then schedule a date to begin. It’s that simple! But remember that it can be easy to let things slide again, so be aware of any challenges and pressures that are on the horizon, think about how they may get in the way of your replenishing activities or hobbies, and make a contingency plan about how to keep them going.
Invest in your relationships
Supportive relationships are essential to our resilience. They make us feel loved, valued and safe at times when we experience challenge or uncertainty. They help us keep things in perspective and find solutions to problems when we think all is lost. Being with people we care about and who care about us calms our stress response and builds our self-esteem, self-efficacy, and confidence.
Each year the media seem to report about an increase in rates of relationship breakdown in the run-up to Christmas, which would suggest that this is a time when our close relationships may be under strain and pressure. When these supportive relationships are threatened, as they can be by competing demands, ill-health, or thwarted expectations, we need to pay attention.
It is too easy to jump to conclusions, to take things personally and end up feeling rejected, criticised or attacked when someone else is stressed. When we do this, we tend to respond defensively and this can set up a spiral of negativity in the relationship which is hard to overcome.
So, when we notice a friend or partner is becoming stressed, stepping back and reflecting on what is happening is the first and perhaps most important step. Being aware of the early warning signs of stress in yourself can also help you to notice when things are becoming difficult for someone close to you. Perhaps you feel more tense than usual when you are around them, feeling like you are walking on eggshells, or maybe you are worrying that they are not paying you as much attention as usual.
If you notice these early warning signs, try taking a step back, calm your breathing and ask yourself what might be going on. Although it is tempting to hook into old familiar stories that link into our own insecurities that tell us their behaviour is about us, instead ask yourself: is there is another way of looking at this person’s behaviour? What is going on for them? What evidence is there that this is about you? It can also be helpful to ask them if they are ok, rather than assuming you know what is going on.
If we can make an accurate appraisal of the reality of the situation at times we are under high pressure and stress, we can make more helpful choices about how we respond. If we know our partner, friend or family member is struggling or putting too much pressure on themselves, we can offer support or space if they need it. We can take action to boost positivity in the relationship by arranging special time together or reconnecting over previously shared hobbies or interests.
Remember, resilient people have a good balance of both giving and receiving support from other people, so make sure you access help when you need it too. As social beings, we rely on one another to get through the difficult times in life and to share in the joys.
So, if you are experiencing the pressures of the season, take care of yourself, keep your loved ones close and enjoy the time you have together.