(This is an update of a post I first wrote on 29.12.2017)
There have been many thoughtful blog posts, and posts on social media recently for those of us who do not have family, and for whom Christmas is not a pleasant, or a happy time. For those of us for whom abuse was a part of our every day experiences of childhood, with no days off for Christmas – or even for whom Christmas made the abuse worse – Christmas is a time we’d rather avoid.
All that said, however, many of us who have fraught relationships with toxic or dangerous families, or for whom Christmas is tinged with grief, have wonderful friends. These wonderful, thoughtful, friends often remember us, and invite us to join with them on December 25th, and 26th. Then we find ourselves, on the 28th, or so, alone with our thoughts. If we’re lucky, we will have plans for New Year’s Eve. But there are the days between Xmas day and NYE that can be even more difficult than the days of ‘celebration’ themselves. The week that lots of other people humourously refer to as ‘the lost week’ where they don’t know what day it is, and there’s still mountains of festive food knocking about can be really difficult for those of us who haven’t felt we have much to celebrate.
It’s a week for concerted self-care. For this In-between Week, I have a list of things that you can pick and choose from to make yourself feel better.
- Get off social media for 24 hours (be sure to post in advance that you’re going to do this, so people don’t worry for your safety!). I love social media, but there’s a lot going on there at the moment that might make you feel more alone.
- Join a park run. You don’t have to actually, run, but it can be good for you to feel your body, and feel yourself in it. Park runs are fun, free, and you don’t need to register. Just turn up. Bring a friend, if you think it’ll make it easier, or look forward to making new ones – these Park Runners are a friendly bunch!
- Practice some self-appreciation. See yourself as a container for receiving good, and fill that container! By ‘appreciation’, I don’t mean ‘value’. Trying to value yourself often results in little more than either feeling squeamish, or like you’re trying to puff up your ego. Honest appreciation for what is present and true will boost your confidence in a powerful and authentic way. Honest appreciation is specific, both in what it is appreciating, and how it words that appreciation. Remember, appreciation is a gift you receive into your heart.
- Paint. Even if you don’t, do.
- Put some thought into buying a beautiful gift for someone – something you know they’d love, but would never get for themselves. Make an effort to get them something that is thoughtful, and lets them know how highly you think of them.
If you don’t fancy braving the crowds in the sales, do the shopping online. In this exercise, though, that ‘someone’ is you.
- Plant something. Tend it, and look forward to it blooming. Give it what it needs, when it needs it. If you don’t know how to grow things, read up, or ask a green-thumbed friend. Treat it the way you should have been treated.
- Every time your brain presents you with memories that you don’t need, thank them for showing up, but tell them it’s time to go.
- Make sandwiches, or buy biscuits and / or chocolate, and drop them into a soup run. There are several organised throughout the week, and they are always grateful to receive donations.
- Download Borrowbox, and check out an audiobook. This app works even when the library is closed. There is something lovely, and nourishing about having a book read to you. You are worth the time an effort the performer went to, to make it sound so good.
- Make a list of the films that are the celluloid version of comfort food to you. Watch them.
- Read some contemporary poetry, or get on YouTube and enjoy some spoken-word artists.
- Have a guilt-free duvet day.
- Print off some kids’ colouring pages from the Internet (unless you have a colouring book to hand) and colour them in. Don’t worry about the lines. Just enjoy yourself.
- Change the linen on your bed.
- Go through your wardrobe, chuck out anything that doesn’t fit / you don’t like / you haven’t worn for at least three months. Remind yourself of what’s in there that you actually like, and that you know looks well on you.