Hello 2016! 

  
I spent a lovely New year surrounded by fantastic friends and family and I felt truly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.  I love the idea of New Year – the opportunity to reflect on the year which has passed and a time to look forward with a clear head to what lies ahead in the new year.  Most years I would write my own New Years Resolutions  and they would be well thought out and full of good intention , so,where along the lines of : eat more healthy, join the gym, read more books ….. I am sure we have all been there! I am sure that if you looked back they would be much the same each year – often trying to break bad habits or forge new routines.  I am not surprised they were largely unsuccessful – they were often things I felt I should do rather than ones I wanted to – you can see the problem – it was never going to work – at least not for any sustainable length of time.  

This year I haven’t made a list.  Looking back my new year started in October as it was then that I made a lot of changes in my life which have had such a positive effect.  I made the decision at that point that I was ready for change, I felt positive and determined that it was time to take stock and regroup myself and move forwards. 

While new year is an obvious time to do this, it doesn’t have to be.  Every week and every day offers a fresh start if you decide you want to.  2015 – was a roller coaster year for me -it had highs and it had more than its fair share of lows but I survived – I more than survived, I am standing stronger at the end of it and feeling grateful and blessed for all the good things in my life.  

So I plan to start 2016 the way I ended 2015 – I cannot predict or control all that will happen in the next 12 months – life is unpredictable and who knows what is just around the corner .   what I can do however, is take each day and week at a time and ask myself what is important to me in that moment.  

And at this moment ? Well I seen this and really liked it : it pretty much captures all the things  that make me smile everyday – and do I want more of them . You bet! 

 

Tis the season to be jolly – why self care is important at Christmas

  

Christmas is one of my red flag trigger times – during my CBT I had to collate a list of times when I felt I was beginning to show signs of anxiety and stress and to then list them in order according to the most difficult.  Holidays came right at the top – Christmas in particular, was a pressure point for me.   From my Twitter feed I can see that I am not alone – over recent weeks I have seen numerous people tweet their worries over the festive season.  When you take a closer look at Christmas it’s not hard to see why the Christmas holidays can throw some of us into a state of Christmas stress and anxiety.   I personally have always thrived on routine – I like it – it is familiar and safe and I can live my days in this safety net of predictability and sense of control. I love my job ( I know how lucky I am believe me!) it allows me to do something I feel confident and good at  and after my 3  days at work each week I really appreciate my days at home as mummy so much more. Christmas is a busy holiday with lots of social gatherings and all sense of routine pretty much goes out the window.   If like me you already struggle with perfectionism the holiday season can be particularly difficult to manage ; there are often higher expectations, more to do, more people to please and more pressure to put on yourself.  

How can we help manage these feelings and enjoy the holidays more ? Here as some things to remember and try to stick to this Christmas :

1. This is good enough  

If something is worth doing its worth doing …………… Good enough!

This has to have been the hardest mindset for me  to change and one which takes a lot of practise – that tree is good enoughly decorated , I didn’t manage to buy 2 types of stuffing for Christmas Day but one is good enough, my child does not have a fancy Xmas eve hamper box  (like some  of the mums on Facebook) but he does have new Xmas pjs and we can all watch a movie as a family – good enough.    Stop comparing yourself to others and try to go easy on yourself – take a look around is everyone happy and healthy ? Check ! then it’s all good enough.

 For the previous two Christmases I have put pressure on myself to have everything perfect – I never felt it was – no matter what I did I always felt I had fallen short of my own expectations.  Even worse when I did meet them I would just set new  higher ones and the circle would start again.  This year I will be working on the ‘good enough ‘principle and  it feels pretty good. 

2. Focus on family not things 

This is what truly matters at Christmas – it is all about the memories you will keep for years to come. Not the number of presents under the tree or having matching table cloths and napkin rings. Spend time expressing gratitude and making memories with those you hold dear. 

3. Delegate tasks 

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness – it is a sign of knowing what  is important and helping to look after yourself. I never used to let my husband help – it was quicker and easier if I did it – this applied to most Christmas related tasks form wrapping to present buying , writing Christmas cards –  the list would go on. Sometimes (on rare ocassions) he would get  to address the envelopes but even then I knew my writing was neater and I should really do that too. This quest for control put a huge amount of additional pressure on me – put on by myself –  none else .  When I started taking steps to delegate tasks suddenly I felt much better . 

4. Take a step back

Look at what you have achieved – I would bet it’s all pretty  fab but you were too involved to notice .  Take time to slow down and take in the magic of an amazing season. 

5. Give yourself permission to say no 

Christmas is a very busy time with lots of family gatherings and parties with groups of friends.  Give yourself permission to say no to some invites if you feel your doing too much or if you just want to slow down and have some quiet time at home.  People who care about you  will understand and if they don’t are they really worth worrying about? My guess would be no. 

6. Practice self care 

As anyone who has suffered a mental illness knows only too well, it is really important to practice good self care.  Looking after yourself is important every day but especially so in the holidays when life gets really busy. Being self aware of your moods and taking time out for yourself is one of the most important things to do. Self care is a very personal thing – for me I like to take an hour to myself – head out for a coffe on my own, read a Book or plug in and  listen to music – time to be alone, to relax and  to recharge.  Do what works for you and do it often. 

I remember during therapy I used to tell my CBT counsellor that I felt guilty about this ‘me time’ and that I felt I just couldn’t justify this hour away to others and more importantly to myself.  She explained that in airplanes when the cabin crew demonstrate what to do in the event of an emergency landing they instruct parents to put on their oxygen masks before their infants – why? Because how can they help their children efficiently if they are unable to focus as they are struggling for air themselves The same principle applies to motherhood – to look after and be there for my family I need to be well myself and that means looking after me too.  So actually it’s important I do it for not only me , but them too – when I started looking at it this way I suddenly felt much less guilt about time away. 

I plan to try and stick to these steps over the holidays and let myself relax and enjoy time with my nearest and dearest  over the holidays.  This will be my little boys third Christmas and the first one I consider myself in a good place for – I am recovered and feeling good and so excited to spend it together with my family and friends.
Happy Christmas xxxxx

The Twinkle Diaries