Hand up if you find this time of year exhausting?! Then you’re definitely not alone! Everyone I speak to at the moment seems to be running on fumes. Just hoping they can maintain their last shred of energy long enough to get through the inevitable rush of deadlines/ parties/ catch-ups/ events/ present shopping/ tree decorating/ holiday planning and house cleaning in the frantic countdown to Christmas.

And then there’s the pressure to maintain a somewhat healthy diet and exercise routine so we can look great for our family holiday to the beach (which we may or may not have forgotten to book flights to in the chaos of everything else going on…).

So, instead of enjoying what’s supposed to be a relaxing, joyful lead-up to Christmas, we end up feeling like one big, exhausted ball of stress who can’t wait to see the back of December!

The longer I’m in the fitness business, the more I realise it’s not all about the exercise (or even the nutrition) when it comes to living a healthy, happy life. At the risk of sounding a little new age, making sure you’re taking care of yourself emotionally and mentally is just as important as the physical. And we know, as women, we’re the queens of putting ourselves and our own needs last!

I listened to a great podcast recently with former Olympic swimmer and new mum Libby Trickett (I highly recommend it if you’re into that sort of thing – it’s part of a great series called “I don’t know how she does it”). In it, Libby talks very candidly about the months of sleep deprivation she endured as a new mum and the impact it had on all aspects of her health, both physical and mental.

One of the Goddess girls – a new mum herself – recommended it to me, and there was one line in particular that resonated for both of us. As Trickett says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. She didn’t make up the saying, obviously, but it was so pertinent in her situation – and it’s advice that could apply to most women I know at one time or another! In other words, if you don’t look after yourself first, you’ll have nothing to give to anyone else.

The small things help – getting a facial or massage, having coffee with a friend, reading a book or bingeing on Netflix – but a lot of them are bandaid solutions. They might make us feel better for a day or so but they’re not really addressing the cause of why we feel like we need those things in the first place. In other words, we need to ask ourselves, how did we get to the point where we feel so stretched that we look forward to a bubble bath once a week as a “treat” – an attempt to counteract the chaos and stress that pervades the rest of our life?

Obviously we can’t all leave our busy lives behind and go and live “off the grid” in some sort of utopian paradise (tempting as it may seem sometimes). So what’s the answer? Truth be told, thinking about these things on a deeper level has raised more questions than answers for me. I think it’s more about looking at sustainable, realistic and meaningful changes we can make to our lives so that hopefully, when next December rolls around, we can enjoy and embrace it!

Hope to see you all at training (and if I don’t, I hope you have a happy, healthy and relaxing Christmas and New Year!)

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