Night off Amongst the Christmas Countdown
Posted by Nicola Elliott
Psychologies Magazine Editor on the power of a nourishing night in, before the Christmas countdown chaos...
At NEOM we’ve been championing the power of staying in. As we move towards the most wonderful time of the year (dare we say Christmas countdown? Have you taken a walk down wellbeing street yet?), we asked Editor of Psychologies Magazine, life coach and author, about keeping our wellbeing in check (when we’re sooo busy), and the REAL power of a night in... before the party season starts…
Q Busy. Everyone is busy. We’ve recently been championing a bit-of-a-night in. Why can it keep our wellbeing in check during the busy Christmas countdown?
A Time at home to recharge is essential. Our home is our comfort zone, where we can be ourselves completely and where we can love ourselves and our families unconditionally. For me, home is not a place, it is a feeling of being loved, held, and safe. For many of us, on a day to day basis we're off in the world creating, building, being heroes of our own lives - and as wonderful as that is, it's great to be able to come back to a safe place where we can be vulnerable with the people we love to support us. Or if we live alone, to a place where we support and nourish ourselves. I think people feel guilty about staying in. They feel they should be out improving themselves or getting things done or learning something new. And yes, that's all good stuff but it's about finding the balance. If you're self care is zero and you can't remember the last time you spent just relaxing at home - perhaps look deeper at the reasons why? How do you process negative emotions? What's the emotional pay off for being busy? By sitting still, what judgement do you have about yourself?
Q Your stance on saying no. No to that soiree and leaving that spin class until next week. Is saying ‘no’ good sometimes?
A NO is a GREAT word. Saying no allows us to create boundaries around what we allow into our lives. Saying no gives us control. Saying no allows us to be the creator of our lives. Saying no stops us from being a people pleaser. As a coach, I advise clients to practice with 'the no hour' - whatever anyone asks - 'just say no'! You can have fun with it. You can tell people what you're doing and it can also inspire others. Another great exercise is to write a long list of what you will and can say 'no' too. When you are clear about your 'no', your yes has much more value.
Q You’re a life coach as well as Editor of Psychologies. Do you hear the words ‘burn out’ often? What is your recommendation?
A There seems to be an obsession with productivity these days. When we put an 'achieve more' cover line on the magazine, it always does well. But when we do too much or try to cram too much in, then our health will suffer and burnout can ensue. There will be always times when you have to work too much on a project but when the exception becomes the norm, you have to take steps to look at your lifestyle. The fastest and easiest way to come back from the brink of burnout is setting up morning and evening routines that begin and end your day in ways that help you revive and restore. It's finding healthy habits that work for you. What will make you feel good? 10 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes of dancing, journalling, listening to music in the morning. In the evening, can you put the phone in the drawer from 9pm and create a digital curfew? Just spend 20 minutes working on your life versus in it and writing a list of what you can do differently and then try it. Just make tiny, small, incremental changes and tweak until you have a sustaining routine at the beginning of your day and at the end. It can help enormously and help you avoid burnout.
Q Favourite family night in?
A Watching Star Wars trilogy in bed with my 14 year old son and Oscar the dog.
Q Favourite night off?
A When it’s been a tough few weeks at work, or a crazy-busy time, when I’ve taken on too much, I book a ‘pyjama day’ into my schedule. You lie in bed, you sleep, nap, eat comfort food and just stick on your wellies and throw on a coat over your pyjamas occasionally to take the dog out or your son to his football match. But that’s it. I read, I catch up on the latest Netflix box-set, I do nothing and luxuriate in having space and time to do absolutely nothing. You have to plan it. You score it out of your diary, and tell everyone you’re away, order your supermarket-shop to be delivered on the Thursday night, change your sheets, put a candle on the mantelpiece and by your bed, make sure the house is cleanish, stick a warming stew in your slow cooker and then Friday night, you get home and climb into some, fresh, clean pyjamas.
Q You talk about the magazine Psychologies that it challenges us to think differently. Why do you feel passionately about that?
A Many of us, we're so busy, we never give ourselves the time to break out of old thought patterns and habits. But when you do, it can be truly life changing. If we keep on thinking and doing the same thing, we get the same results. I believe in challenging ourselves to try and see things differently so if you want different results, start with your thinking. Mainly it's about having some time and space to observe your thinking and habits and then just tweaking them slightly.
Q Our mantra is Small Steps Big Difference. What does this mean to you?
A My book Making The Big Leap is about making a leap in thinking. Once you've seen or thought something differently, you can then start taking baby steps towards your goal. Baby steps allow you to creep out of your comfort zone without scaring yourself so it becomes more sustainable.
Q Which house on wellbeing street will you be creating this festive season?
A The home of De-Stress. I can be on the go dawn to dusk if I let myself, but one of the biggest lessons I’m learning is that resting up, taking that small step and giving myself permission to simply do nothing, even for 10 mins, is incredibly restorative. I don’t need fancy spas (although it can be a nice treat) it’s more creating a nurturing space with the De-Stress candle and the De-Stress bath & Shower Drops, at home where I can let go and simply rest.