If 2020 felt like both the longest and shortest year in recent memory, you’re not alone. That’s all the more reason to take some time for yourself over the holiday break – and avoid spreading yourself too thin.
“There’s been a lot of upheaval and transitioning, and a collective grief,” says psychologist Mary Hoang, who runs Sydney’s forward-thinking mindfulness and wellbeing studio The Indigo Project. “It’s an amazing time to reflect, consider what you’re letting go of, what you need to process, and what really matters now.”
We asked Hoang to unpack some of the top advice she shares with clients about how to sidestep stress and overindulgence during the silly season.
Set boundaries, even with yourself
“We think about setting boundaries with other people, but we often overstep our own boundaries to please others,” says Hoang. “So don’t feel like you need to say yes to all the invites, especially if you need to take some serious time out. Be confident: people do get it.”
After all, if you push yourself to attend an event against your better judgement and you’re anxious or stressed, that won’t be much fun for you.
Apply mindfulness to social situations
Mindfulness isn’t just something to employ when you’re alone and trying to find a quiet space. It’s also invaluable for recognising which situations are worth sticking out and which are best handled with a graceful exit.
“Be mindful around your own emotional energy,’” Hoang says. “I know families can be hectic when they get together, so if anyone’s uncle starts ranting about US voter fraud, that’s an okay reason to leave the table and maybe sit out in the garden for 10 minutes. Know which fights to fight and which ones to get some space from.”
Keep your consumption in check
Consumption isn’t just about what you buy, but about what you consume in the digital realm – so maybe consider a phone or internet detox over the summer break. And when it comes to food and alcohol, there’s no need to overdo it. For those wanting an alternative to booze, the non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip offers a complex, adaptable alternative to a traditional spirit or cocktail without sacrificing the welcome ritual and refreshment.
“You can still have something beautiful and considered,” Hoang says. “Drinking less, or not at all, is more socially accepted these days. People are happy being in their own skin, not wanting to feel tired and hungover the next day.”
Don’t overspend to overcompensate for a hard year
“I think this year it’s more about social giving than excessive gift giving,” says Hoang. “There are lots of organisations you can reach out to so you don’t have to just give stuff. If we’ve learnt anything this year, it’s about how we can actually slow our consumption (or be more deliberate about where we’re spending). I don’t think there’s any need to ramp it back up again.”
Case in point: she donates regularly to Kindling Foundation, which funds schooling and more for African children. And if you’re still feeling attached to gift giving, try limiting yourself to one special gift, Secret Santa style.
Learn to let go
When Hoang lost her father a few years ago, while juggling her busy daily life as an entrepreneur, she initially didn’t let herself fully work through that loss. “I realised I hadn’t made any space for myself and the grief that came with that,” she says.
The experience led her to write her first book, Darkness Is Golden. Due out in January, it’s a guide to changing your life in a meaningful away and letting go of what doesn’t serve you. That’s something we could all work on, especially over the holidays. “There are processes that people need to go through to create the life we want,” says Hoang.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Seedlip.