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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Zannese

3 tips for a healthy and peaceful run up to Christmas

The running up to Christmas is often an exhausting time, even more so for women living with chronic illness, pain and fatigue.

The pressure of getting everything right, satisfying demands and pleasing everyone can add a tonne of stress. It requires extra energy on all levels, physical, mental and emotional. Extra energy that people with long-term conditions don’t have.

So what can you do to healthily and peacefully prepare for the holiday season?

  • Plan and prioritise

I give this advice to all my clients with chronic fatigue and pain. It’s about being realistic and trying to prepare as much as possible in advance. It’s also very important to allow for flexibility in the planning in case there is one day when you don’t feel as good as you’d expected. If you can put a support system in place as well, please do.

Remember that asking for help is not a weakness.

  • Take many short breaks during the day

I cannot stress enough how important regular short breaks are to manage energy levels and

balance emotions. Practiced often they can be life-savers.

Here are three short breaks you can do:

- Breathing exercise

Take a moment to welcome your breathing just as it is. Feel the air flowing in through your nose and coming out. Pay attention to the pace of your breathing, where it’s placed in the body without judgment.

After observing your breath for a couple of minutes, extend your out-breath a little, just what’s comfortable. After a couple of minutes exhaling long and slow, go back to your natural breathing and listen to how you feel.

- Release unnecessary tensions

Close your eyes, sense how your body is placed. Do you notice some tensions that you could release. For instance, is your jaw clenched? Are your shoulders up? Your hands tight? Let go of as many tensions as you can. It’s ok if they don’t all go away.

- Discard unpleasant emotions

Before I present this exercise, I want to say that no emotion is good or bad. They all serve a purpose and shouldn’t be ignored. However, sometimes, we experience unpleasant emotions that we’d like to let go off.

First, allow yourself to feel the emotion, let it emerge and be with it. Then take a cushion and imagine transferring your emotion onto the cushion. Breathe out and throw the cushion away. You can repeat the exercise a few times and notice how your feel after that.

  • Set your boundaries and protect your space

Do you find it hard to say no? Are you the ultimate people pleaser?

My motto is self-care is not selfish. If you look well after yourself, by taking time out and doing what is right for you, chances are you’ll feel better and happier in yourself. When you feel happier and better, it benefits everything and everyone around you. You actually have more energy to do what you need to do and to look after your loved ones.

I’d like to suggest a few practical exercises that will help you protect your space in the run up to Christmas.

- Yes and No exercise

Sitting or standing, gently let your head move from side to side, listening to how you feel and taking the movement just as far as is comfortable for you. Once you’re happy with the movement, imagine saying no to anything you don’t want. Then let your head come back to centre.

Now let your head nod up and down, again taking the movement as far as you need, without over-doing it. Imagine saying yes to yourself and the things your want.

- Rotating arms exercise

Standing, feet apart, let the upper part of your body rotate, keeping the arms loose. Allow the movement to expand as wide and as quick as you want. Imagine creating your space around you as you do the movement.

- Protective filter

Visualise a filter surrounding you, perhaps as a magic bubble or a force field, a safe layer that doesn’t let in the things you don’t want to let in. Imagine pressures, expectations, negative comments and energy bounce off that protective shield.

Try this visualisation on your own first. Once you’re familiar with your filter, use it in any situation where you need to protect your space and boundaries.

More about boundaries:

By Audrey Zannese

Audrey is an anxiety and management expert at Step Into

Sophrology, who helps women living with chronic illness,

fatigue and pain to take back control of their body and health

by teaching them a simple but powerful body-mind practice

called sophrology.

Would you like to discover how simple sophrology is to implement in every day life? Get your short and simple sophrology practices to find your inner calm here.

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