Staying Calm at Christmas
Christmas is just around the corner, and according to the some "It's the most wonderful time of the year', so why is it that in the run-up and during the Christmas and New Year period we become full of feelings of overwhelm and stress? Instead of it being a time for relaxing and spending time with loved ones as it's supposed to be.
It can be a time of clutter, trying to do it all, please everyone around us, live up to unrealistic expectations by trying to make everything perfect and attempting to maintain every single Christmas tradition.
Our calendars are packed full of to-dos and events. Christmas shopping, visiting friends and family, writing Christmas cards, parties, pantomimes, putting up decorations, meal planning... It can all become a blur of busyness.
It's almost as if we choose to be hard on ourselves and push ourselves to the limit because that appears to be what everyone else is doing.
Give yourself permission to slow down, to simplify your celebrations and to do things differently. If gearing up to celebrate as usual has you feeling anxious already, stop and take a step back. Although it's counterintuitive to do less at this time of year, doing less leaves more time for family, simple traditions and the true spirit of Christmas.
Here are my top tips for staying calm, happy and healthy over Christmas;
SET YOUR OWN INTENTIONS, PRIORITIES AND LIMITS
When we start setting limits for ourselves, we can find time for the things that our priority for us at Christmas and able to better let go of anything that is not in line with these priorities.
Some questions to ask yourself to work out your Christmas priorities are;
What is Christmas about for you? What do you want to remember about this year? What makes you and your family, happy?
When you stop rushing around trying to do everything and be everything, you can enjoy the important things more. So, keep the important things and let go of the rest.
What feels overwhelming? What aren't you looking forward to? What feels like too much?
Do what works for you. It's OK not to do the things that everyone else is doing, or to continue doing things just because you have always done them.
SIMPLIFY AND LET GO
Simplify wherever and however you can. Simplifying is always an option in the things that we can control.
Simplify your calendar and your commitments.
It's the season when our social calendars go into overdrive. Being around those that you love is what Christmas is all about, but it is also OK to say no from time to time.
Say no to any parties, events or gathering that don't make you feel happy or excited, or are going to add too much stress at this time of the year. You aren't missing out if it's too much for you.
Let go of feeling guilty about saying no, or the fear of upsetting anyone. Disappointing as few people as possible should not be your ultimate priority for Christmas.
Simplify your to-dos
Ask yourself, "Will this create meaningful memories?". And more importantly, "Will this add to the peace and joy of Christmas, or take away from it?'. Give yourself permission to let go of any traditions or to-dos that are no longer in line with your priorities.
I love Christmas traditions, those from my childhood, those from my husband's childhood and the ones that we have created for our family, but that doesn't' mean that incorporating everyone, every year is a good idea. If you don't want to let them go all together, can you simplify them? If you really don't enjoy sending Christmas cards, can you send them every other year, or just send to family and send an email or message to everyone else on your list?
Don't spend the month running around trying to get things done and end up exhausted before you even get to Christmas day.
Let go of perfectionism and comparison
So often we put pressure on ourselves to have things perfect, and Christmas is no exception. Social media is great for perpetuating ideas that make us want to do it all and fill the Christmas season with activities and Instagram worthy projects. Let go of perfect and embrace the 'good enough' mentality.
Stop comparing your Christmas to others and trying to impress family and friends. I'm sure we're all a bit guilty of this. The neighbour has better lights, their kids get more expensive presents, or your family gatherings and parties aren't like the ones you see on Facebook.
Focus less on what is under the Christmas tree
Christmas is known for gift giving in abundance, with each year seems to get more and more excessive. Perhaps feeling the pressure of the retailer advertising sparking our desire to consume, we are conditioned to believe that buying and giving more material items means a happier Christmas. So, we spend more than we should and bring more 'stuff' into our lives than we need.
I'm not saying that you should not buy Christmas gifts, but when buying gifts becomes the focal point of Christmas, we lose focus on what really matters. Just be more intentional with your gift-giving.
Another significant cause of stress during the holidays is finances. Give yourself permission to do less and spend less.
Remember, it's not all about the present under the tree or the amount of money that is spent. It is about creating memories together and the things that you can never reclaim - time and love.
GET ORGANISED AND PLAN AHEAD
For me, the biggest thing to help instil calm at Christmas is to get started early on my to-do list. No matter how much you scale back, additional tasks during this period are inevitable. Thankfully nothing reduces stress and anxiety-like early preparation.
Schedule time blocks into your calendar to do tasks such as wrapping gifts or delivering presents. Don't hope that all these extra to-dos will just magically fit somewhere in your already hectic days during the Christmas period.
If you are feeling completely overwhelmed and stressed right now by everything that needs to get done, don't be afraid to ask for help. Your family and friends don't want to see you stressed out. Sometimes even just taking super small tasks of our shoulders can feel like a mountain of weight has been lifted off us.
Take care of yourself
The most important thing! All the Christmas events and to-dos can be a lot of fun, but they can also be very draining. We worry ourselves into a frenzy, trying to do everything and be everything to everyone and quickly get to the point where we completely forget to take care of ourselves.
How can you keep giving to others if you don't have anything left to give? The simple answer is you can't. Making self-care a priority during the busy Christmas period is essential not only for ourselves, but to ensure that our family and friends and those around us have a wonderful Christmas too!
Put some me-time in your calendar. Look after your body. Make sure that as well as the festive treats, you are easting some nutritious food, moving your body (go for some walks in the fresh air), drink plenty of water and get lots of sleep so your body can better deal with the excess of busyness, stress, food and Christmas treats.