As the shopping malls get busier, the invites stack up, the adverts get brasher, and the piped music louder, seasonal stresses and strains inevitably mount. As another year closes, it can begin to feel that train crammed full of responsibility is bearing down hard.
As much as we’d love to embrace the season with open arms, we somehow start to close up. For many, this time of year can leave us feeling overwhelmed, stressed and utterly exhausted.
Let’s see if we can help you avoid all that this year: here are some simple ways to help you take the stress out of Christmas.
Organising and delegating!
It’s never easy to organise yourself with all the commitments you have to fulfil for family and work. It is, however, essential to get organised if you are going to avoid those feelings of panic and stress as the demands on you reach a crescendo.
Here’s how to do it.
Put a date in your diary so you can book in some time for yourself. That’s the hard part done. Now for the fun bit: get the slippers on, envelope yourself in your favourite music and make yourself a cup of tea, or indulge in a warming mulled wine. Relaxed? Thought you might be. Now is the perfect time to write a list of everything you need to get done in time for Christmas.
But don’t stop there. Now you have your list in hand it is time to prioritise exactly what needs doing by when, what can’t wait and what can.
Feels better? Then let’s make it feel great. Look back through the list and ask yourself if you really need to do all those things. Is there not someone else you could ask to pitch in and help?
There’s never a better time to delegate than in the run up to Christmas. Whether it’s your partner, sibling, friend or colleague, it won’t hurt to ask. Pick up the phone and do it now and watch that list begin to whittle down. Now breathe a sigh of relief: this year it’s going to be different.
Making space in the diary
There’s something about the run up to Christmas that creates a concertina effect. All of a sudden there’s a sense of urgency. You feel you must see everyone and get everything done before the Christmas deadline.
It is just not true. Why can’t some things wait till the New Year? Let’s make them wait by penciling in some dates for the New Year now. Once they’re arranged, you no longer have to contend with the guilt of not fitting them in. No one is going to be upset you didn’t see them: we’re all so busy it’s likely that those you re-schedule to January will be secretly, or openly, relieved!
The need to buy a big present comes from the expectation you will receive one. You can break this cycle and make everyone’s life that bit easier.
This year why not decide to spend a little less on your family members? Christmas isn’t about buying the biggest and best gifts (although if I could buy a unicorn, like in the Mulberry advert, I absolutely would!) Broach the subject with your family as early as possible and see if you can agree to only spend a certain amount on each person. It will be another weight off your mind – and everyone else’s.
The stresses of Christmas are not just on our minds but on our bodies as well. With all the drinking and eating our bodies inevitably take quite a hit during this period. Water helps our bodies to cope with the excess of toxins and the late nights.
Focus on what matters
Are you still there in your slippers, with your list in hand and a warm cup of something soothing? Good, because now is the time to think about what Christmas really means for you. Maybe it’s quality time with loved ones, maybe it’s much-needed time off from work, maybe it’s a chance to catch up with old friends or maybe it’s a time to spend walking your dog. Whatever it is for you, write it down and, if you start to feel stressed, quietly remind yourself of what is important.
My 90 year old Grandma said to me recently, ‘I never enjoy my own parties at Christmas because I’m too worried about whether everyone else is having a good time’. How familiar this sounds, but comparing ourselves to others never makes us happy, beating ourselves up because something isn’t perfect just makes us miserable and worrying about what others think always causes stress.
We all deserve a wonderful Christmas, and that includes you. If you take one thing away from this, please let it be that you need to take time and look after yourself. Remember to breathe, laugh lots and always be gentle and kind to yourself.
Have a truly joyous Christmas from everyone here at Shine.
By Abi Clancey, Life Coach and Yoga teacher at Shine.