Dr Michelle O'Driscoll: Give yourself the gift of self-care this Christmas

Many of us are running on empty as the year comes to a close. Here Dr Michelle O'Driscoll offers us some advice on how to recharge
Dr Michelle O'Driscoll: Give yourself the gift of self-care this Christmas

Give yourself time to do some journaling or goal setting perhaps? Picture: Stock

IF you’ve been running and racing, chasing your tail, making sure this Christmas of all Christmases is the best yet in light of the year we’ve been through, you’re not alone.

So many of us place the utmost importance in looking after our loved ones at this time of year, which of course is wonderful and generous. You’ve got the groceries in, the presents wrapped, the Christmas cake made (or maybe, despite the running and racing, you still have all these things left to do!) You’ve incorporated thoughtful little touches into the gifts you’ve bought for family, and planned creative games and evenings for the kids.

At this point, it’s not uncommon to be running on empty. And with that in mind, it begs the question: what gift are you giving to yourself this Christmas? Where did you appear on your Christmas gift list? Too often we’ve fallen off the bottom of it!

Gifting yourself some self-care sounds selfish, doesn’t it? But actually, self-care is about making sure you’ve got enough energy to go around, and some to keep back for yourself too. It’s about being able to give the best of you, rather than what’s left of you. And if we’re not careful we’ll realise too late that there really is nothing left to give.

Saying that you don’t have time for self-care is like saying you’re too busy to stop for petrol. Eventually, the car will give you no choice in the matter, and stop you most certainly will!

So what do we mean by self-care? It looks different for everybody. Certainly for some it means a bubble bath and a book. For others it might be getting to drink your coffee hot, getting the house to yourself for a precious hour, or setting up boundaries where they tend to be trampled on.

It doesn’t have to be a financial splurge, it can cost next to nothing if there isn’t a budget (although assigning yourself some of the gift budget can be an act of self-care in itself!)

Here are some ideas around what types of things you could gift yourself this Christmas.


Self-care for so many is simply just space, silence, room to think and process. We benefit greatly from stepping off the treadmill and pausing, but rarely do we do so. What would that pause look like for you? Does it require booking an event that offers guidance through that reflective space, or just arranging a babysitter for no reason other than to be able to slip away for a couple of hours? Could it be a morning routine that becomes your non-negotiable; an undisturbed breakfast and some journaling or goal setting perhaps? Carve out that space for yourself — nobody else can do it for you.


The older we get, when rent, mortgages and families become a part of life, the less disposable income we have and the less likely we are to spend some of it on ourselves.

This Christmas, treat yourself to something that seems whimsical and luxurious, that you wouldn’t usually consider taking out the credit card for. That’s not to say that it needs to be an expensive indulgence, but something that is purely for enjoyment rather than practicality.

Choose something not because you need it or should get it, but just because! Life is short, give yourself the gift of brightening what can otherwise be a dreary time of year. Buy the dress, purchase the hand-cream, book the night away (restrictions permitting!) Because you are most definitely worth it.


It’s easy to get caught up in the routine and the rat-race, neglecting the relationships that nourish us most, that fill us back up. You know those people in your life that reconnecting with just feels like balm for a weary soul? That you possibly only get to meet a handful of times a year? With whom it always feels you can pick up exactly where you left off? Give yourself the gift of tapping into that reservoir of energy, positivity and support more frequently. Schedule a catch-up some time after Christmas when the January slump could do with being combatted. Your future self will thank you for it.


We never cease to dedicate ourselves to the development and growth of our loved ones, without batting an eyelid. Cooking nutritious meals, acting as a taxi to after-school activities, pouring over homework late at night. It can feel like there is no time or space for our own self development.

But developing new skills or taking on challenges can give us that much-needed sense of accomplishment, the natural dopamine high of flourishing and bettering ourselves. 

This can be experienced by taking up playing an instrument or sea swimming, setting up that side-hussle you’ve always dreamed about, or simply attending a webinar on a topic you’re interested in.

If you’re looking for the perfect self-care gift this Christmas, why not join me at The Reset – a morning of mindfulness and mindset on Saturday, January 2, from 10am to 12.30 via Zoom.

Use this little pocket of time before facing properly back into reality to pause, review the year that’s passed and plan for the year ahead while picking up really useful evidence-based tools along the way. All from the comfort of your own couch! Give yourself all of the above self-care gifts in one ticket; space, connection, self-development and a little bit of indulgence! Tickets are available on EventBrite, or from http://intuition.ie/


Dr Michelle O’Driscoll is a pharmacist, researcher and founder of InTuition, a health and wellness education company. Her research lies in the area of mental health education, and through her company InTuition she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally. She writes a weekly column in WoW! in The Echo.

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