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How to wind down and restore your energy over Christmas

Focused Mind coaching is all about allowing yourself to be in the best state of mind for performance and life, however, in 2020, our ability to do that has been challenged to the core.

We know that the best athletes not only train hard but also take plenty of rest and recovery to allow their training effects – whether physical or mental – to take effect to give them more consistent high-level performance. The lessons from these individuals and teams aren’t saved just for elites though. They are available to all of us, but we have to take an active choice in doing them ourselves. There are no shortcuts.

Collective trauma, grief, and loss are what we’ve all been experiencing in 2020. But at the same time, how much have you valued those moments where you have got together or shared experiences with those you love when you have had the opportunity? A lot I’d guess.

The normal ability to connect and spend time with each other has been limited by lockdown, social distancing, and travel bans. I recommend trying to make the connections you have with the people you spend time with this festive season as meaningful as possible. Maybe it’s a good opportunity to put down your phone and give that bit more attention and focus than you may have done previously.

It’s been a tough year and maybe you’re ok, but your mate or mum might not have shared just how much it’s impacted them emotionally. However much “we’re in this together,” if I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone say: “I feel guilty for feeling this as others have had it much worse,” I’d be very well off. COVID and its impact are not a zero-sum game.

Here are some evidence based pointers to help maximise the time you may get with others and yourself to help recharge and get your focus sharpened for 2021.

  1. Give each other time to talk out what has been on your mind, normalise feelings of isolation, loneliness, being scared or anxious, bored, pi**ed off, or just annoyed.
  2. But also try and find humour and common points of shared experience. I’ve found for a lot of people I’ve worked with this year that one of the most beneficial things has been that those ‘weird’ or difficult thoughts and feelings that you’ve been experiencing have probably been the same ones that your mates or family have had as well. And that by saying that out loud has provided a lot of comfort to people when they know that even though they may have been physically or geographically on their own, they are not alone in their experience.
  3. Psychological flexibility is what we’ve all been having to go through – whether it’s been wanted or not. Though it might not feel it, being able to be psychologically flexible will help you adapt to challenging circumstances in your future and focus on what’s most important. Just to be able to think: “I emotionally got through the ups and downs of lockdown/COVID,” may help you in other areas of your future life and that determination to achieve your goals.
  4. That said, do try and carve out some time where you get outside, don’t talk about COVID/Lockdown/what you can’t do, and chat about anything and everything, share activities where it’s safe to do so – playing games, sharing a drink, doing some sport or fitness with another person or people, going for a walk somewhere new, or tentatively making a few realistic plans for when things ease in 2021.
  5. If you’ve been working hard and maybe doing extra hours at home (as I know a lot of people have told me they have), protect your boundaries this Xmas. Put your Out Of Office on, turn off your work phone and switch off from work if your boss has said that’s ok or your office has shut. Maximise the opportunity to switch off – the blurring of boundaries from home and office can take its emotional toll. This is your opportunity to top up your me time!
  6. Try and get more sleep if possible – nature’s best natural remedy. And if your sleep has been disrupted and that’s hard, give yourself permission to switch off and get some distance between the day job and your holiday time. Recovery is as important for well being and growth as being on the rivet and flogging yourself hard.
  7. Finally, we nearly all like a tipple at Christmas but if you overdo it on the egg nog then don’t feel too guilty. Remember alcohol is a depressant and be aware of this if you do overindulge – whether by accident or design.

Whatever you do, however small an action to be mindful of yours or your families well being this Christmas will make a difference so endeavour to try at least one of the activities mentioned. And from us, all at Focus Mind Coaching, have as good a Christmas holiday as possible and I imagine we all hope for a healthy and good 2021.

If you are interested in working with Stuart and enhancing your mindset and performance, please get in touch here.

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