Papow Ponders #15: Surviving Christmas

Usually when you mention teaching and Christmas, most people picture teachers flinging their planning and marking in the air and spending two weeks in their PJs doing sweet nothing. While I’d love for that to be true, the reality is quite different. In two weeks, there are family and friends to visit, appointments you can’t normally make during school hours to organise, a term’s worth of paper work to file and the usual Christmas bits and bobs to sort. If you have anxiety (like me), you also end up panicking about the term ahead.

To make sure I get some proper down time, I employ a few helpful strategies. As with all mental health issues, what works for some doesn’t always work for others.

1. Saying No
It’s very easy to over-book yourself over the Christmas break. Next week, for example, I only have one free evening. Some people thrive off of being busy but I end up either burnt out or overly anxious. Instead of squeezing as much as possible into each day, I know I have to say no sometimes. This year I won’t be travelling far from home – I’m not even making my usual trips to London. A little bit of time to yourself is necessary.

2. Positive People
At any time, I try to ensure that I spend time with people who have a positive impact on me. Over the years I’ve cut out negative relationships from my life. It sounds cold and heartless but ultimately if neither of us is benefiting, what’s the point of maintaining a relationship? It helps me to focus on those who really matters to me and makes me use my time more wisely.

3. Eat Whatever The Hell You Want
Being bullied for your weight for most of your life can make holiday feasting a time of great anxiety. A lot of my Christmas breaks have involved a lot of guilt, self-loathing and planning for a better, thinner me in the new year. I’m well and truly over that. One of my favourite things about my time off is having the ability it cook and eat with people I love. I’m not going to ruin that with diet culture demons.

4. Reverse Bucket List
I have Flo to thank for this one. Towards the end of the year, there is the tendency to either look back on the things you haven’t done that year or make plans for all the things you’re going to do the next. Reverse bucket listing is when you write down all the things you got to do during the year. I’ve done it the past two Christmases and it helps me to beat that feeling doom and gloom as the year ends.

5. Go For A Walk
As much as I love hibernating and turning my flat into a winter-proof bunker, being out in nature is the best thing for my head. I can get away from my responsibilities and just be. It also gives me the chance to have a proper natter with whoever I’m out walking with.

6. Sleep
Goes without saying. During term time, my best sleeping times are Friday and Saturday nights. The rest of the time I find it hard to sleep because of thoughts whirring through my head and I’m usually up just before my alarm. Proper solid sleep is a luxury and I plan to get as much of it as possible over the holidays.

Whatever you plan on doing over the Christmas break, make sure you look after yourself.

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