Wellbeing in Winter: Self-Care During Party Season

The days already feel as though they are flying by on the advent calendar when in reality the festivities have only just begun. Julia O’Driscoll shares some self care tips to sustain yourself through the party season.

Have you seen Last Christmas yet? Eaten more than your fair share of deliciously rich food? Had to negotiate whether last night’s party wear is acceptable office attire as you stumble in from a night that went on a little longer than planned? If you answered yes to at least one or more of the above, then congratulations! You’re already well on your way to a festive season that you won’t forget in a hurry. 

For many of us, December is a month of indulgence; be it delicious treats, Netflix binges or evenings spent socialising, it’s a time when spirits are high and expectations for merriment even higher. And, more often than not, with all this comes a certain level of pressure – to buy the perfect present, to have even more fun than last year, to see out the year in the most Instagram-worthy style. As friends and family share endless celebratory updates on social media, you’d be forgiven for feeling weary before even braving your first holiday party of the year, let alone starting on your greetings card list…

In all honesty and most un-Mariah Carey style, all I want for Christmas is a DIY face mask, a more manageable to-do list and 12 hours of sleep. Not much to ask eh? But with the rest of the world on festive overdrive, I’m finding that there aren’t enough evenings in the week to squeeze in a delightful evening of self-care and pampering while trying to see friends before they disperse across the country for a week or so of TLC at home.

There’s also the fear that slowing down might mean missing out – indeed, if there’s ever a time for mass FOMO to kick in, surely December is it. Photo opportunities are aplenty, and a quick scroll through your phone can leave you feeling as though your social calendar is anything but the glittering schedule of back-to-back social engagements that everyone else’s appears to be. 

These weeks present a challenge: making too many plans can leave you feeling worn out and worse for wear, but being a little steadier on the social side might make you feel you’re not making the most of this magical time of year.

So, how to strike a balance and practice sustainable self-care during party season? Here are a few tips to see you through (at least until January 2nd) … 

Set realistic expectations for yourself. Do you really have time to make all your greetings cards this year?  Try to push away any guilty feelings that may creep in if you decide to tactically pass on a few events or things you just don’t have the time to fit in. 

And, on that note, be decisive. Some events may have to be missed and some traditions skipped – That. Is. O.K. There’s only so many times that you can pull out your Dancing Queen routine in the next four weeks, so it’s best to be upfront in saying no to occasions you don’t really intend to attend. Divide your time wisely and pace yourself.

Hard as it is, resist drawing comparisons. There will always be someone who seems to be out every night while still managing to crochet their own baubles, come up with thoughtful gifts and look completely fresh faced while doing it all. Don’t draw comparisons – hear it from me, you’re doing pretty well yourself! Practice a little self-love in moments of doubt.

Set yourself a budget. Simple, but necessary – particularly for sustaining the fun that’s still to come later in the month. Set a limit on how much you plan to spend on gifts or going out (booking tickets in advance wherever possible) so that you can avoid getting to January out of pocket and under the weather.

‘Tis the season to eat absolutely everything delicious (in moderation, of course). Vitamin-packed food will get you far when you’re doing 101 things and beginning to feel run down as a result. Making nourishing, well-balanced meals can be tricky when last minute engagements come up and you haven’t got time to get your usual food prep in. For the best of both worlds, make social plans around meals and, whether you’re dining in or out, pick dishes that will top up your energy levels; grains and greens will provide a much-needed boost. 

Sip responsibly… If you’re feeling under the weather, swap cocktails for mocktails, hydrate before you caffeinate, and make soda and lime your new best friend. 

Plan in a pause. Book time in with yourself as you would with a friend. It might be easier to plan a specific activity in order to do so; arrange a treatment, read a chapter of your book, do a little light meditation or spend time on a simple wellbeing practice to slow your heart and mind for a dedicated period of time. Short but frequent pauses will help you to reset, and face the festivities refreshed and more relaxed.

Get your Zzz’s. As my mum always says, sleep can help to heal almost anything. Plan in one or two nights a week that are intended for getting a good night of deep sleep(Tuesday and Wednesday have been working for me so far). Avoid alcohol on those days and switch off your an hour or so before bed to help you unwind, making your room nice and cosy with candles for a touch of indulgence all in the name of self-care.

Although none of these tips are groundbreaking (and most of them are just my mum’s words of wisdom), a little bit of each will help you to get through the next few weeks without running out of celebratory steam. The key is to be kind to yourself and to take a break when needed – you’ll be up and performing your Dancing Queen routine again in no time…

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