With December well and truly upon us, here are my tips for a stress-free - or at least a lower stress - Christmas:
Make a Plan
Having a plan in place gives you a clear way forward to ensure what needs to happen between now and 25th December does. Some of you may have an aversion making plans, but I guarantee you that if you do make one, you will feel liberated rather than restricted - with one proviso. If your plan is unrealistic it will make you feel more stressed; so, use this exercise as an opportunity for a reality check about what you want, and are able, to make happen in the time available and amend your plan accordingly.
Reduce the Pressure of Perfectionism
Christmas is a special time, and we want it to be amazing; but some people set themselves such high expectations they are impossible to satisfy. Take the pressure off, by asking yourself and your family what is essential for you to enjoy festive season. You may well find that your priorities are less about the mountain of gifts under the tree, and more about how you can spend time with family and friends. Ask yourself, does really matter if you let some things slide, or even take them off your list all together?
Ask for help
Do not feel that you have to do everything on your own. Ask for help to get everything ready for the big day. Most people love feeling that they can be a part of preparations, so divide the tasks accordingly and allow everyone to take pride in how they have contributed.
Prepare Yourself for Tricky Family Dynamics
Now ideally, Christmas is a time of peace and joy to all; but in reality, most people I know have to deal with some ‘challenging’ family behaviours. Let’s face it, it’s hardly surprising: you’re suddenly thrown together in limited space for extended periods, and, no matter how much you really care for them, it can still be really testing as it brings everyone’s quirks to the fore.
So, what can you do? Find yourself an ally or two who you can let off steam too if things become too much. Prioritise what is non-negotiable from your point of view, but do be prepared to compromise. Think about what you can do to minimise any issues in advance. Also, be realistic about what to expect of people. Then, take a deep breath and enjoy!
Fortify yourself – and no, I don’t mean with drink
Do what you need to do to look after yourself to keep you calm to ensure you get through the festive season in one piece: go for a walk, have a cup of tea, talk to a friend or make time to watch that programme you love. You are no good to anyone, including yourself, if you are stressed.
And finally, whatever happens, I urge you to enjoy Christmas even if things don’t quite go to plan. I grew up in a house with an Aga and every year all the food would be ready except the potatoes, as the oven had become colder and colder throughout the day. In spite of every possible variation of cooking time, the potatoes were never quite roasted – and certainly not crispy. This has now become part of our family tradition just as much as stockings or Turkey; and I can’t imagine Christmas being any better, even with crispy potatoes!
Mince pie anyone?!
I'm a Personal Coach who loves finding out about what makes people tick and helping them to make the changes necessary to get to where they want to go.