If you’re anything like me, you’ll agree this is the most wonderful time of the year. And chaotic, let’s not forget that part.
From the mistletoe and mulled wine to the overdose of fairy lights and festive food, it’s bloody great, right? But even I -– Mrs Christmas over here -– admit that things can get a little frayed around the edges. And by things I mean me.
There’s Secret Santas to choose, one million socials to attend and pigs in blankets to buy, when all we really want is to be curled up on the sofa watching Love Actually, half a tub of Celebrations down, with a mind very much at ease.
Christmas can be a lot.
So here’s a few tips to beat the overwhelm and remain calm this silly season….
Keep Lists (and check them twice)
Ah, the simple yet (arguably) most effective tool in your festive toolkit. Keeping your own ‘Christmas List’ will help your head from feeling like it’s going to fall off. Section the list, too, into days, jobs and people. Having it visually laid out helps even the most unorganised of souls pull their Christmas socks up (me).
You want to sit at the table, paper crown on head, large glass of wine in hand, surveying your work and marvelling at how you did it all. I get it. But why take on so much? You want time to enjoy the festivities – and that’s where delegation comes in. Your partner may not wrap as well (or in my case better 🙄) than you, but who cares? It’s all going in the bin post-reveal anyway. Sharing jobs will make you more efficient and free you up for more important activities, like Mariah Carey karaoke, or four straight hours of Risk.
You can’t – and don’t have to – do it all. This is your permission slip to trim the excess (and get rid of those brussels sprouts). Most of the expectation to have the perfect Christmas/lights/table/meal/gifts comes from the pressure we put on ourselves, so make a list of your non-negotiables and focus on them. If you are unsure whether you have time to create the nativity scene in fairy lights above the porch, you probably don’t. Anything extra on top of your list is a Christmas bonus. And prioritising goes for you too: don’t forget to look after yourself. Take a few minutes each day. You can’t pour from an empty cup, remember?
Stock(ing) up on what soothes you
For me, it’s chamomile tea, eucalyptus oil baths and lavender pillow spray. Whatever it is that keeps you level and grounded, be sure you have it in abundance this season. Call it your ‘Keep Cool, Calm and Collected it’s Christmas Kit’ – or something shorter, whatever.
Stick to your routine
Just because the days between Christmas and New Year dissolve into a slightly inebriated, carb-fuelled haze, doesn’t mean you have to ignore the routine you love (and have nurtured) the other 360 days of the year. If you practice daily yoga, meditation, going for a run, journalling, painting (you get the picture) keep it up. Humans benefit from structure and routine, helping us to sleep better and calm our stress levels.
Don’t rely on thought-autopilot
Remember, we don’t have control over our circumstances (well, not all of them) but have control over how we react to them; in fact, our internal environment is the only thing we do have complete control over. This awareness comes from being in tune with our triggers and conscious of our thoughts/reactions. Forced family gaths can be a bumpy ride. Random relative ‘never turns up to anything’ is here (for once) and being a kn*b? All good! You can choose how to react in this situation. Stop. Take a minute. Breathe. Ask yourself some questions: what can I learn from this? What am I making this mean about me? How do I want this meal to go? (Good luck.)
Say no (ho ho)
People pleasing can seem like a way of life for a lot of us (guilty much 🙋🏼♀️) but, shockingly, you can be a nice person and still say no. Every time you say yes to something, you say no to another – this likely being yourself. Train yourself to pause before agreeing to plans; this way you’ll be able to check if you have the time before committing, pressure-free. Hoorah!
Have your self a very mindful Christmas
Have a mindful Christmas by being present and focusing on the here and now. Because, before you know it, in a flash of LED’s, mince pies and the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special, that’ll be it for another year.
Be sure to make time for the things you enjoy; concentrate when writing your cards; mindfully chat to your loved ones; get outside, breathe in the bloody freezing air and soak it all up.
And whilst you’re there, mindfully consume social media. It’s difficult not to compare, what with the highlight reel that is Instagram, so when scrolling through, keep in mind: we all spend hours unravelling fairy lights (to find most don’t work) cats have a penchant for pulling over Christmas trees, and any child-made decorations are, more than likely, hidden slightly out of shot. It can look like everyone has it together except you, but it pays to remember we’re all human, after all.
Be grateful (with a plateful) and reflect
It can be easy to forget how far you’ve come when in the midst of the festivities. Take some time to reflect on the year and your achievements, big and small, and give yourself a high-five for 2019. Get yourself a gratitude journal and write three things you are grateful for each day. Practicing gratitude can help ease stress, make you healthier, happier and increases wellbeing by turning negative thoughts on their head. So even if you’ve burned the turkey and run out of Baileys, let’s face it, there’s so very much to be grateful for.
This time of year is equal measures of fun and hectic (if we allow it). Hopefully using some of the above steps will help you relish those mindful moments and cruise through Christmas, enjoying every little bit.
Now go forth and enjoy the magic, festive friends.
That mulled wine isn’t going to drink itself…
Have a wonderful one,