An invitation to slow down this December

An invitation to slow down this December

Here’s an invitation to slow down, take your foot off the gas and have a gentle December.

Have you found that you spend the whole of December chasing around between parties, present buying, nativity plays, carol concerts, catch ups with friends and so on and so forth.

Every day blurring into the next in some kind of tinsel-and-mince-pie-induced whirlwind? Then suddenly it gets to the Christmas break and you stop.  Just like that! You go from speeding through your days at 70mph with your foot firmly on the accelerator pedal, to suddenly stopping without giving your body any warning!

As soon as there are no more parties to attend, the turkey is in the dog, the stuffing and the rest of the family are well.. STUFFED  you suddenly find that you feel ill.  And it’s not at the thought of the 13 mince pies you had for breakfast either, nor the thought of the looming January credit card bill.

All of a sudden you catch that bug that you’ve so stealthily avoided, or you have an almighty headache, or you come out in a terrible cold. I believe there’s a reason for this. I think it’s kind of like whiplash (not in a physical sense) Like anything if you do something a lot and then you stop just like that it gives your body an almighty jolt. It doesn’t need to be like this.

slow down and have a hot chocolate. image shows a log fire, a yellow ochre blanket and a hot chocolate in a glass

The art of slowing down

One way of avoiding this big energy crash is to start find ways to slow down throughout December. By working at a slightly slower pace where possible. By taking a breath, or a time to  pause each day. Seize any tiny opportunity to slow down, add a calmness, a quiet time, a moment of peace. So when you stop you’re not screeching to a halt you’re simply gently gliding gracefully to a stationary position! 

How to slow down this December

This could be to savour your morning tea without checking social media first so that the day starts in a less frantic way. You could take a short walk outside first thing in the morning. Maybe you could enjoy a pot of loose leaf tea when you come home for the day. It might be that you could finish work on time, or switch off your work phone after work.  Or have some lazy mornings or slower starts whenever you can. Or simply take time to listen to your favourite music without doing anything else at the same time!

You could snuggle up in bed half an hour earlier so you can enjoy a night-time tea and read a chapter of your book. Or simply pouring yourself a long, steamy bath to help you unwind after a busy day.  Do whatever works for you. 

Slow down and have an early night. Image shows picture of a woman in fluffy socks with a book and a hot drink

Slow down: Take each day a day at a time.

It could be something as simple as thinking ‘do I need to do this TODAY?’

Whilst I’m not for a second suggesting you put EVERYTHING off for tomorrow, it can be useful to do one key thing a day, rather than trying to tackle everything.  Delegating tasks to others can sometimes free up time for you to do something calming (and give them something to do so they’re not whining at you because they’re bored!)

It is ok to get help with things and for things to be done in a slightly different way to how you’d do them ( a lesson I often struggle with, being a bit of a ‘my way or the highway’ type!) You absolutely don’t need to do everything yourself this Christmas.

How are you going to slow down this Christmas?

Please let me know in the comments below.

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6 Quick and Easy Ways to Avoid Burnout this December

6 Quick and Easy Ways to Avoid Burnout this December

Here are some quick and easy ways to avoid burnout this December.

In the past, when I’ve thought of December and the run-up to Christmas, it’s always left me feeling faintly breathless at the very thought of it. Packed with a whirlwind of social events, seasonal catch-ups, frantic shopping trips, carol concerts, Christmas parties and not a minute to catch a breath. This can quickly leave us feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out.

But does it need to be like this? As the nights grow longer and the sunsets more vibrant, it can be helpful to stop for a minute, to interject some calm into the chaos. To breathe deeply.  To enjoy those magical moments, to savour a hot chocolate and a mince pie, to take a bracing walk.

To feel the wind blow in your hair and the breeze clattering your cheeks. To rest for a while with your feet up on the sofa, under a blanket with a good book and a mug of steaming hot tea are all great ways of avoiding burnout.

Take a minute or two to breathe deeply from the bottom of your belly, and sigh out any emotion you’ve been hanging on to. There’s nothing better than letting it all go.  If you do this outside on a chilly winters day, you can see your breath as you sigh it out, you can watch it float away. 

Look out for the lulls

Even the busiest of months will have its natural lulls. Quieter times, pockets of slower-paced time when you don’t have to be dashing anywhere. Embrace these quieter days.

Treat yourself to nourishing food, early nights or lazy long lie ins (if small children permit this!) Or snoozy times on the sofa, or days pottering around the house maybe. Use these times to recharge your own personal batteries and to do the things you love doing. 

Create a little magic whenever you can! 

Add a little sparkle to your life by using fairy lights and candles and creating cosy corners to snuggle up into. A cosy nook to shelter you from the outside world. A nurturing cocoon that you can retreat to especially if you have a young family or are expected to entertain members of your wider family over the Christmas period.

No one needs to be on call 24/7 (unless you’re a single parent of course!) It is ok to retreat to your own space with a mug of spiced apple tea or whatever you prefer to drink with a good book, your journal, or simply sink into the space, shut your eyes and block out the world for a while.

Do things your way. You don’t have to do the same things as everyone else.

It’s ok for you to need some time to yourself. Or for you to buy all the bits of your Christmas dinner pre-chopped so you don’t have to spend the whole holiday slaving away over a hot stove.  No one is handing out awards for the neatest chopped vegetables so take whatever shortcuts makes most sense to you. Or if hiding in the kitchen IS your thing, do that! Just do whatever works for you!

Let go of the need for perfection

Don’t worry if things aren’t perfect, often the funniest memories are made from when things go a bit wrong. Let go of expectations, not everyone is going to have a glorious family packed Christmas, some people will be spending Christmas alone, others will find that spending time with family is stressful. 

Just take each day as it comes and don’t be afraid to take yourself out of the way if you need to have some space. It can get a little intense if you go from seeing someone in passing each day, to being stuck in the same room with them for days on end! Everyone needs a little downtime to breathe out or walk off all that turkey and Christmas pudding

For me, my favourite way to celebrate is to have times of connection interspersed with pockets of quiet time where I can be alone and enjoy the peace and quiet. Where I can retreat from the world for a while and read, have a nap, write in my journal or do some painting. 

 

https://www.sarahcooper.co.uk/how-to-have-a-perfectly-imperfect-christmas-this-year/

https://www.mamacoopskitchen.co.uk/all-butter-orange-mince-pies/

 

 

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Time to press pause.

Time to press pause.

Time to press pause?

The slight lull between the summer rush and the craziness of the Christmas season can be a good time to press pause for a little while. To rest, take stock, reassess and plan. To deeply exhale. To let anything you no longer need float out of your life with ease.

Letting go of things that no longer serves you is great as it makes space for good things to flow into your life. Like decluttering a cupboard, tidying up those loose ends of life can be cathartic and powerful. It can give an odd sense of satisfaction. 

Every year in my business, as the darker nights draw in I take out my business journal and figure out what is working well and what needs to be tweaked. I plan what I need to do next be it book myself onto a CPD course, or whether to add or drop a treatment or package. This tweaking strengthens my business and makes it more coherent.

If you’re not self-employed then you could do this for your home life, seeing if there’s anything you need to add in the coming year or anything that you’d like to let go of. If you like you can make a vision board or mood board or a board on pinterest with ideas of what you’d like.

Pausing for a while can help you figure out what you need to get (for who!) for Christmas. It can help you take stock of whether you need to go buy more Christmas cards or whether you’ve still got loads left from last year. Whether you’ve already got enough wrapping paper or whether you need to buy more of that.  

I definitely need to do this this year as last year we were convinced we didn’t own a Christmas tree so bought a new one, only to discover our old one wasn’t actually at the tip like we thought but lounging around in the loft, neglected and sad. 

image of woman taking a photo through the rear view mirror

Taking a pause can be like climbing a steep hill then taking a moment to catch your breath before continuing your journey. It allows you to take a good look ahead and to figure out the path you wish to take. It can also allow you to look back for a while to see how far you’ve come. To look at the obstacles you’ve overcome and how much stronger you are now, a year on.

It can be good to re-gather strength as our lives are ever busier and we often feel like we have to be everything to everyone and this needs to stop.

By taking time to pause, we can reassess what is actually something that we need to do and what is something that someone else can do. It’s so easy for us to do everything because we know it will get done, but sometimes we need to hand back the reins to the other person and let them get on with it even if what they do isn’t to your high standard! 

Time Management: How to make time to do the things you love

Time Management: How to make time to do the things you love

Time Management: How to make time to do the things you love.

Have you noticed how you can find time to do certain things (like binge-watch yet another box set on Netflix ) but not do other things? Like write that book, bake that cake, plan that trip or organise that cupboard which you’ve been meaning to do for years now?

Or maybe you’ve been planning on meeting up with an old friend for months but it never quite happens? The idea gets bandied about with enthusiasm ‘oh yes we MUST meet up for coffee soon’ but then no plans are made and it still remains something on your to-do list!

Firstly, consider what the problem is. Is it actually lack of time?!

First lockdown proved to me that lack of time hadn’t been what had stopped me doing things. Suddenly we had all the time in the world. Months and months of free time lay ahead of us and still I didn’t start writing that book. I did do some writing, I started writing out my favourite recipes on a new cooking website, but the  book idea lay dormant. 

During lockdown I managed to find time to watch 170+ episodes of Silent Witness, and several other box sets. I drank my way through box after box of tea bags and pot after pot of fresh coffee. I took loads of online courses to improve my social media skills, my copywriting skills, my zoom hosting skills. But the book remains unwritten

image shows 6 colourful paperclips in a messy heap on a white background

Time to allow yourself to do whatever it is that you love

I talk to anyone who will listen how I love writing, yet often I don’t let myself write. I find ways of procrastafaffing (you know, faffing on and procrastinating) Suddenly I can find a pile of paperclips that need stacking or maybe my pencils need sharpening. Or the cats bowl needs a few more biscuits. You get the picture.

Finally I realised that I needed to give myself permission to write. I also needed to set up a time and space to write. When my children were at school I used to go to a specific coffee shop with my notebook straight after school drop off every Tuesday, get a large latte and 2 hours on the parking and write whatever was in my head into my notebook.

Since they left school I’ve not found space in my diary to do this on a regular basis. I get the impression that what I need to do is to get a specific time written into the diary on a weekly basis. 

time saving. Image of a notebook with brightly coloured dividers

Clearing space to make time

To make this work I may have to drop something else, or create space by streamlining things so I have more time. So I need to look at where I can save time. Are there any processes I can automate to make life easier? Could I make more meals in the slow cooker, freeing up time in the evening to sneak in more writing? 

Instead of fitting writing in in between other things, maybe I should do my writing first? Maybe I could do some first thing in a morning along with my morning tea?

Maybe you could do the same. Starting the day with doing the things that you love doing (as long as it’s NOT playing the Tuba!) and then hopefully the rest of the day will flow around it, filling in the gaps. Rather than having to find a time to do the thing you love

What do you think? 

                                  https://www.sarahcooper.co.uk/the-5-am-club/

             https://www.sarahcooper.co.uk/how-to-create-the-life-you-want/

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