‘Tis the season of goodwill to all, yet how many of us actually have a stress-free Christmas? Advertising companies tell us there is very little time to get our homes in order before the big day. Christmas cards sent, presents bought, wrapped and placed beneath the tree. The house must be decorated, food prepared and all the family invited – yet it’s far away from the true meaning of this special day.
If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of the dreaded ‘to do’ list, (you do have a to-do list, I hope!) dealing with family members and all the stress it may bring, or if you’re having nightmares about frozen turkey and worm-filled sprouts, then this is for you.
So how can you have a stress-free Christmas? Follow the ten steps below and you can harness stress and make it work for you, face it head-on and enjoy the festive season. Stress is not something to avoid, it is something to use, learn and grow from.
1. Why You Do The Things You Do
Sounds obvious, yet think about it: what makes you follow your traditions? What makes you believe it needs to be that way? If you go back in history, when did it actually become a tradition for your family? Take time to think about this and then choose to change traditions which no longer serve you.
Perhaps your new ‘tradition’ will catch on. Make your new decisions from the heart, state them with love and not malice. Surprisingly, you will all survive to live another day. Trust me, we did.
2. Make Your Choice and Stick With It for a Stress-Free Christmas!
Okay, so now you’ve decided to change things around a little and you may be feeling ‘stressed’, yet stick with it. Harness your stress by moving your comfort zones, try out new things and learn from them. Choice is something we all have the power to control. Make choices which generate excitement, not anxiety.
Just make sure you let everyone know what you have decided well in advance, and remember Tip number 6!
3. Ditch The Guilt
If you have followed steps one and two, you are probably dealing with guilt right now. Remember, whatever you decide is right for you is the way forward at this time. Let go of the guilt, ditch it before you take another step.
Guilt is partly based in our minds, it is something created as a reaction to past experiences, it is also partly based on the society you live in. It’s an emotion, a warning sign that you have done something wrong – but have you? Often, guilt is irrational and out of proportion. Move straight onto number 4 if you want to harness stress this Christmas!
Keep It Super Simple Every Day. Less is more. Make a ‘to do’ list, and then simplify it. Make sure you only attempt to do seven things a day. Once done, cross them off your list and move on. If they are not important to the whole scheme of things, ditch them before you even put them on a list!
5. Be Different
The advertising companies and commercial entities run Christmas – or they would, if we let them. Don’t let them. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to stop the merry-go-round and get off. Go to a restaurant, take a holiday to another country, stay in bed and have a Pizza and PJ Day. Ban gifts and decorations, go and help a charity, the list of alternative possibilities is endless.
To avoid disappointment on the day, ask your loved one to be involved in the choice. The more unusual the idea, the more likely it is that everyone will say yes! Last year my two boys, hubby and I went tandem parachute jumping in Cape Town, South Africa – it was the best Christmas ever.
6. Be Sensibly Selfish for a Stress-Free Christmas
Don’t be afraid to use the word NO! If it doesn’t feel right, then say so! Be Sensibly Selfish. First, put on your own oxygen mask, (just like the aircraft emergency drill tells you). Create Christmas for you, first and foremost.
What comes from the heart grows. When done with love, it will harm no-one. Remember: it’s your choice. Decide which direction your Christmas will take. You are the most important person on this planet. You are the only person that you can truly know inside and out, the only person who will stay with you from beginning to end. Life is for enjoying, so just do it!
Take time out from this busy period, just for you. Even if you can’t take out a whole day from organising, you can take mini-me moments. Stop and enjoy looking out of the window, call a friend for a chat, dance to a favourite piece of music, take a long, hot bubble bath. I’m sure you get the idea.
8. Get Help
You do not have to be ‘God’s Gift’ to everyone and struggle alone. It is not wrong to ask for help, however . . . unless you communicate with others how you feel, they will not be able to help you. If you can’t find time to deal with Christmas as you want it to be, then delegate it. Simples.
9. ‘As Is’
We all make mistakes. Things happen, and the highlight of the day may be when we acknowledge the situation and state it ‘as it is’. No excuse, no blame, no judgement no criticism, just state the truth and enjoy the moment. Which leads to the final Tip . . .
10. Laugh Often
Whatever you do, whatever happens on the day, remember to deal with everything through laughter. The more you laugh the less ‘stressed’ you will feel, and those surrounding you – those people you love the most. Get that Dopamine cursing through your body and make sure you carry your laughter into the New Year, each and every day.
I hope you find these tips useful during this festive season – whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Yule, Hannukah, or whatever tradition. Which tip do you find most useful? Or perhaps you have an additional tip? Please share in the comments below.