The 12 (Wellbeing) Days of Christmas

The 12 (Wellbeing) Days of Christmas

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for some. But it can also take its toll on our physical and emotional wellbeing.


Too often, we put our own needs at the bottom of the Christmas list and so enter the new year feeling frazzled, exhausted and run-down. At Castorvida, we think self-care should be a priority, not a luxury or an indulgence. That’s why we’ve put together our own version of The 12 Days of Christmas – one which hopefully leaves you with more than a partridge in a pear tree.


The 12 (Wellbeing) Days of Christmas The 12 (Wellbeing) Days of Christmas


Day 1: Batch cooking


December can be a busy month, so having some nutritious homecooked food to hand may be a real lifesaver. Not only can it help reduce dinnertime stress when we’re time-limited, tired, or just not in the mood to cook, it can also encourage healthier eating habits – which can be tricky to maintain during the festive season.


If you can, allocate a morning or afternoon for batch cooking several meals to keep in the fridge and/or freezer. If you don’t have time to set aside, just make double batches when cooking your usual meals so you have plenty of leftovers to heat up another day. Focus on nourishing winter warmers such as soups, chillis, stews and casseroles.


Day 2: Connect to yourself


It’s easy to overlook our own needs and goals when we have family and friends demanding our focus and attention. But have you ever really thought about what makes you happy or how you want your future to look? If not, an incoming new year can be a good time to inspire change and reassess life goals.


Spend some quiet time with your thoughts and visualize your future self. What are you doing/saying/thinking? What is bringing you joy? Focusing our attention on what we want can help create a positive mindset and drive action to achieve our ambitions.


Day 3: Get your Zzzs


The festive season can sometimes leave us short on shut eye – whether it be due to too many late nights or too much stress. But it’s vital we get enough sleep to maintain our physical and mental wellbeing – especially when we have a multitude of tasks still to complete and want to avoid the seasonal lurgies. Plus, a lack of sleep can also encourage unhealthier eating habits such as an over- reliance on caffeine, sugar, and carbs to get us through the day, which further impacts our health.


Have an early night! It may not be glamourous but it’s worth it. If you struggle to get to sleep, these simple tips might help: take some time to wind down before bed (think: book, bath, meditation, or relaxing music); get your environment right (dimmed lighting, a comfortable temperature, no distractions, a de-cluttered room, a comfortable mattress and pillow, etc.); limit caffeine, alcohol and sugar before bed; avoid electric devices and adrenaline-inducing media; and write down your worries and/or To Do list before going to sleep so they’re out of your head.


Day 4: Be mindful


If you’d like to experience a little calm and inner peace amid the sea of festive noise and chaos, then mindfulness practice may help. By simply focusing our attention on the present moment and calmly observing our breath, physical sensations, feelings, or thoughts without judgement, we can create a sense of self-awareness, stillness and quietness, while filtering out feelings of stress and anxiety. The principles of mindfulness apply to mindful eating too; and this approach of being fully attentive to our food and eating experience can help foster healthier eating habits and better digestion.


To eat more mindfully, aim to have a distraction-free mealtime – that means no TV, phones or laptops at the dinner table. Slow the pace, chew well, and enjoy each mouthful, giving focus to the aroma, flavour and texture of the food, and any physical sensations that arise.


Day 5: Get moving


Whilst the cooler and darker days of winter may thwart our exercise efforts, it’s important to remain active and to keep moving. This doesn’t have to mean early sessions in the gym or a long distance run in the dark – unless of course we want it to; but incorporating some form of physical activity or conscious movement into our daily routine can help lift our spirits, clear our mind, support our physical wellbeing, and get us through the season’s festivities.


Wrap up warm and head out for a brisk walk in the fresh air during your lunchbreak or on your commute to work; or recruit a friend to join you for a faster paced jog if you’re so inclined. A skipping rope provides a fun and cheap exercise opportunity, too. But if you don’t fancy braving the elements, do an at-home HIIT session, attend a class at your local gym, or simply dance around the house to some tunes.


The festive season can sometimes leave us short on shut eye
Whilst the cooler and darker days of winter may thwart our exercise efforts

Day 6: Digital detox


Many of us are suffering from digital overload, and it can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing, sleep, and relationships. For those who find this time of year more challenging than joyful, scrolling through a feed full of merriment, cheer and parties that we weren’t invited to can be especially detrimental. That’s why it’s important to implement some digital downtime.


Take a day off from using electrical devices such as laptops, tablets and computers if you can. If you’re unable to do a complete digital detox, set a limit instead and stick to it – for example: half an hour screen time; work or emergency purposes only; or limited app use. If you’re a morning scroller, start your day with some meditation instead; and at bedtime, swap your phone with a book for a better night’s sleep.


Day 7: Connect with others


Despite being the season to be jolly, many will spend the holidays feeling isolated, lonely and sad. Mental health can really suffer at this time of year, especially if we don’t have loved ones around us. That’s why it’s important to reach out to others and be honest about how we’re feeling. And even if we are full of Christmas cheer, connecting with family, friends and the wider community can still have a positive impact on our mental wellbeing and give us a sense of belonging – and it may be the lifeline that somebody else needs.


Reach out to a long-lost friend, a neighbour, or someone in your existing network, or organise a get-together for old friends or new acquaintances. If you know someone who’s struggling, pick up the phone for a chat or spend some time with them. Also, remember that there are lots of charities and support groups that offer a range of services to help those in need at Christmas, and throughout the year.


Day 8: Spread kindness


Whilst many of us strive to be kind to others regardless of the season, incorporating a random act of kindness into our days can help spread some winter cheer. And it’s not just the recipient that benefits. When we do something nice for someone without expectation of a reward, our body’s own feel-good chemicals spring into action, meaning that we get to feel happier and more connected with others, too. Plus, we may even start a chain reaction since we’re probably more likely to pass on kindness after receiving it ourselves!


Carry out a random act of kindness, whether it’s donating something to a food bank, offering your place in the queue, giving a thank you gift to the postman, paying for someone’s coffee, or even just giving a genuine compliment. The list is endless!


Day 9: Express gratitude


Feeling gratitude can help us nurture a happier mindset and support emotional and physical wellbeing. By regularly focusing on the positives in our life, no matter how small, we can start to crowd out the negative mind chatter and flip our thinking from glass half empty to glass half full. And the best part about gratitude: it doesn’t cost anything, it doesn’t require too much time or effort, and it can be practised just about anywhere!


Take a few minutes to write down five things that you’re grateful for today and why; this might involve an event, a person and/or an object. As you go through your day, acknowledge and appreciate some of the things that you normally take for granted, whether it be the car you drive that gives you independence, the beautiful leaves falling from the trees, or a snuggly duvet that keeps you warm.


Day 10: Treat yourself


Whilst many of us enjoy gifting and doing good deeds for others, we certainly shouldn’t neglect ourselves. A bit of self-care goes a long way and may be just what we need to keep our stress levels in check. This may mean buying a little gift to show some self-appreciation or taking time out to relax or have fun – whether it be a soak in a bubble bath, an hour with a good book, an art class or hobby time, a massage, a trip to the cinema, or even just some scheduled down time to do nothing at all.


Whether you can fit in one hour or a full day of self-care, make the most of it. Block the time out on your calendar, ask for support if needed, and focus on the moment – let go of any guilt, negative thoughts or worries about what else you should be doing.


Day 11: Love your liver


It’s hard not to overindulge at this time of year. But if we feel we’ve been raising a glass too many lately, it might be a good idea to have a few days off to help protect our long-suffering liver. That doesn’t mean giving it up completely; rather, just taking some sensible steps for safer drinking, coupled with a little extra TLC for our liver to support its detoxification activities.


If you’re in the habit of using alcohol to relax every evening, find a non-alcoholic replacement and try to have at least 2-3 consecutive alcohol-free days. For times when you know the alcohol will be flowing, eat a healthy meal beforehand so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach. Also, try to pace yourself, opt out of rounds if your companions are heavy drinkers, and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks. To support liver health, try a Castorvida castor oil compress – this natural remedy has been used for centuries to aid liver health and promote the elimination of toxins from the body.


After all, Christmas is a time for kindness
After all, Christmas is a time for kindness

Day 12: Give yourself permission


If the shorter, darker days make you want to go at a slower pace, let them. If you’d rather stay home than go out partying, do it. If you want to retreat a little, retreat. It’s okay to turn down invites, it’s okay to attend to your own needs, and it’s okay to think that this really isn’t the most wonderful time of the year, thank you very much (and it’s also okay to think that it is).


Give yourself permission – to say no, to slow down, to ask for help, to have fun... After all, Christmas is a time for kindness, and that means being kind to yourself, too.


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