Tis the season to be jolly, stressed and overwhelmed. With presents to buy, festive food to prepare, late night socialising and increased food and alcohol intake, by the time we get to Boxing Day, we can feel frazzled, exhausted and a long way from the good health and wellbeing wished for us in Christmas cards. So, this year, give yourself the present of self-care.

Coaching clients come to me for all sorts of reasons; professional development, lack of confidence, clarifying creative projects – whatever they present with many end up talking about their work/life balance. The desire to succeed, the demands of family, and the distractions of social media – everyone is busy these days and no rest is in sight. And in all this busyness; developing our careers, caring for families, keeping up with others; we lose sight of ourselves. Self-care drops down the priority list and before long we’re tired, resentful and downright grumpy.

Time and time again, I work with clients who question, ‘how can I meet everyone’s needs including my own?’ Coaching is often sold on achieving your goals, being successful, maximising your potential; this starts with looking after yourself. If you are not at your best, you will never achieve your best. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first.” Self-care isn’t selfish, quite the opposite, you can give more if you have more to give.

My own periods of poor health and lack of self-care taught me valuable life lessons and inspired my desire to support other’s positive mental health and wellbeing. Firstly, using my writing knowledge to encourage people to write about their experiences, then running an arts charity to support artists and writers, often with mental health problems, to use their creativity to aid their recovery and now as a coach, working with people to achieve the work/life balance they desire. Even those driven by career goals quickly realise that they’ll be more productive if they are less stressed and incorporate down time and self-care into their routines. Self-care isn’t just bubble baths and pamper days, though that might work for you. For some, it may mean more time to daydream, exercise or be creative. For others, it maybe sorting out their finances, practicing meditation or learning to say no to other’s demands.

Consult your body, what do you need? Is it rest or physical activity? What does your heart say? Do you yearn to paint or write that novel you’ve always dreamed of? We’re good at ignoring our bodies, taking them for granted whilst our brain gets on with being busy, but if we stop and take note, they can tell us what we really want, what will really satisfy us and make us happy.

Maybe a ten day meditation or creative retreat is out of the question, if you’re time and money poor. But can you give yourself a little holiday every day? One hour, even 30 minutes, of the day that is yours to do with what you wish? A brief window to daydream, write, meditate, exercise – whatever floats your boat? If this could work for you, set yourself a timeframe – when will you start? The first week of January? This week? Today? Commit to that date, you’ll be far more likely to do it than if you just say you’ll get round to it at some point. Then relax, because you’ve just given yourself the best Christmas present ever – a commitment to look after yourself.

And, in the New Year, if you decide you would like to explore your work/life balance more, get to know yourself better and achieve long dreamed of goals, get in touch. A series of coaching sessions is a great way to kick start your new year.