Treat Yourself: Self-Compassion During the Festive Season

We’re getting very close to Christmas, the holiday that marks the end of the year and a time of giving, sharing, and reflecting on the months before – no matter where, how and if you celebrate. However, along with celebration comes a time that encourages us to rest. It’s important to focus on allowing ourselves a break, whether that is simply allowing yourself a week off from studying, ignoring your endless to-do lists, or having a weekend away from studying or revision.

The end-of-year break gives us permission to slow down, in the middle of a season that seems to make the days go quickly and gives us only a few hours of daylight (if that, in the North!). Try and take notice of where you are and where you’ve come from this year, especially after possibly the weirdest and most challenging twelve months our generation has experienced.

Taking a break not only means grounding yourself and cutting yourself some slack (which is incredibly important for our wellbeing at all times), but also treating yourself! – to food as well as rest. It is easy to simplify the topics of nutrition and health to think only of “watching what you eat” and counting nutrients, but it’s also just as much about eating what satisfies you and makes you happy – and sometimes that might mean eating too much!

A largely overlooked study that took place in the 1970s, that acclaimed food and mental health writer Ruby Tandoh mentions in her book Eat Up! suggests that we may actually absorb more nutrients when we enjoy our food. This makes sense, as the chemical reactions and sensory experiences that happen when we are eating can hugely affect our mood and how we feel after the meal – so why wouldn’t it affect our physical health too?

Although this shouldn’t be taken as fact and an excuse to eat fries for every meal for your mental health (!), it is an important reminder to not let yourself feel guilty for eating what you fancy, and to treat yourself with compassion during this (often food-oriented) holiday.

In our new series of posts on MetMUnch, we’ll be exploring self-compassion, what it means and why “treating yourself” matters for our all-round wellbeing, especially after such a difficult year.

Have a very restful festive break, and remember to eat, drink and be merry!

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