NOTE: This blog mentions family violence and other sensitive family related topics that may be a trigger for those who have experienced family violence or who are going through difficult times.
I always find this type of year interesting… for a number of reasons.
People who have been ‘needing to catch up’ for months and months all of a sudden find the time to see each other, as if all of a sudden they have managed to create an extra day of the week to find more time.
People (including me) put too much pressure on themselves to do ‘all the things’, go to ‘all the events’, see ‘all the people’, and expect to have the same energy levels and be their usual self despite burning the candle at both ends.
People focus too much on "what's next" and presents, and forget to appreciate the 'now' and being able to spend extra time with loved ones.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this time of year, catching up with friends and family, being more social, holidays, and who doesn’t love presents!! However, I also know how exhausting, and sometimes damaging, the next month or so can be for people.
On my Facebook live on Wednesday, I mentioned that the number of Family Violence incidents increases by approximately 20% during Christmas / New Year period, which is devastating. Some of the factors that cause this, and may cause other stress and anxiety include: financial pressure, stress, spending extra time with family, children getting ‘bored’, alcohol, food and lack of routine.
I also spoke about some ways that you can take care of YOU during this busy time. So I thought I’d share a few tips to help you “Survive the Silly Season”.
If you want to get through December and January without having a massive crash (physically and mentally, not literally) at some stage, it’s so important you set boundaries to protect your energy. The easiest way to do this, is to say no to catching up with someone if you are exhausted, can’t be bothered, or you know they are going to zap your energy and you're going to feel worse for seeing them. If they’re your friend, they will completely understand, and you know what, the world doesn’t end on 31 December, so you can always catch up in January if not before... 😲
** INSERT SHOCKED FACES HERE**
Another way to set boundaries is with the conversations you have. If talking about a certain topic is going to upset you, trigger you, impact you for days afterwards, then don’t have it. While I am all for talking about and releasing the things that hurt us in order to heal, I’m also a massive advocate for making sure it’s the right time. Which leads me to my next tip.
I don’t believe this time of year (when there is usually lots of people around) is the right time to discuss the past or your personal problems. The main reason I believe this, is because these topics are so personal and so meaningful, that they deserve to have the time, love and attention they deserve.
So if your Uncle Bob, who you don’t really like because he’s a bit of a jerk, comes up and asks you some fucking stupid question like “When are you getting married?”, “When are you having kids?”, “Why are you single?”, “Why are you so upset?”, “What are you doing with your life?”, “Why aren’t you doing this?, I’m all for telling him politely to mind his own fucking business. Firstly because everyone is running their own race, and to hell with people who expect others to live their lives by their timelines and standards, and secondly, it should be your choice when you choose and who you choose to talk to about your life.
In summary, while I am all for beautiful, big, deep conversations, it’s a big fat yes from me to navigate away from conversations that are going to upset or affect you. Change the topic to some surface level subject that everyone can be involved in and you can hopefully have a bit of a laugh.
BE MINDFUL OF YOU
What am I talking about?! I’m talking about being mindful of:
How much alcohol or sugary drinks you consume.
What food you are fuelling your body with. I’m not saying don’t eat any pav (‘cause I’ll be eating a shit tonne of it), but make sure you are still eating raw fruit and veggies and healthy foods that make you feel good.
Budget (yes – we all hate this word) for the month. Know what you have coming up and don’t put yourself in ridiculous debt buying outlandish presents, food, drink and anything else you fee you have to get, to the point that you can’t afford to eat or you’re going to be so stressed that it impacts your ability to be happy.
Manage your time with certain people or at certain events. No function or event should make you feel worse. If you have to make an appearance at one event, then do that. Show up, say hi to the people you have to, stay for some light chit chat and leave. Don’t feel like you have to stay until the last person has left if you are going to feel like shit afterwards.
I don't say these things to tell you what to do, I'm just saying be mindful of what's a 'need' over a want, and the things that aren't going to make you feel good.
TAKE CARE OF YOU
You know what helps you find peace and calm in your life (if you don’t, take the time to write down everything that you LOVE doing and everything that helps you recharge your batteries), and make sure you find time to do that. Block out time in your diary if you need to and if this will help take away the ‘guilt’ of looking after yourself. This might include:
Going for a walk outside
Getting a massage
Sitting on the toilet for 10 minutes, away from everyone, and have a power nap (I’m so busted with this one).
Whatever it is where you can escape from the world and have no pressure on yourself.
I say this because it can be so easy to get caught up in the busyness of December that we sometimes forget to stop and be grateful / appreciate each day as it comes. It’s okay to reconnect with the child inside you so you can laugh, play and just have fun with everything. I know for my family, we have the most fun when someone gifts a toy (Frisbee, cricket set, ball for the pool), because we get to play and spend time with each other, like when we were kids.
It’s okay to protect your energy so you can enjoy the holidays and not have to spend them sleeping the entire time to ‘catch up’.
It’s okay to be a little selfish and not worry about hurting someone’s feelings because you don’t want to, or can’t catch up with someone.
It’s okay to have some alone time in the middle of a function.
It’s okay to not answer all of the probing questions family might ask you.
It’s okay to take care of you!
Most of all, it’s okay to just do you, whatever that looks like.
I really hope you are able to go easy and not be too hard on yourself this December. It really should be a time for coming together, seeing your loved ones and deepening connections. Enjoy the little moments that you don’t usually get and try to embrace each day, each event, each activity for what it is.
If this has helped you map out your December or make a decision about something, I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to hear what you are going to do to make this December as peaceful as you can.
If this time of year is really hard for you, please know helps are available to you.
The include (Australian numbers only):
Safe Steps Family Violence – 1800 015 188
1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
Aboriginal Family Violence Hotline – 1800 019 123
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800