“Set a budget and stick to it”
“Shop off peak”
“Make a list of all the gifts and food you wish to buy and shop early.”
“Bring a plate”
And my personal favourite
“Make a list”
Phew! No idea how I’d have made though the silly season without THAT advice. It’s right up there with “Eat Less, and Move More!” as a weight loss tip.
As you know we like to do things differently round here! So here are a few top tips which incorporate the place where all stress starts – our mind and thoughts. This is a handy checklist for when you are seeing red, and it’s not just Santa come down the chimney early.
1. It’s an obligation-fest of driving 4 hours there, and 4 hours back for a thing you don’t really want to go to.
Righto. Here’s the thing. Embrace the power of choice here. You don’t “have to” go. You are choosing to go. The only thing you HAVE to do is breathe, everything after that is a choice. So, you have the option:
a) Choose not to go. Choose what feels right for you + your family. And feel good about that, because that’s what you are consciously choosing. Let other people’s reactions be their reactions – you can’t control that.
b) Choose to go, not because you “have to” but because you are choosing to drive all the way there rather than offend Great Aunty Gladys and her award winning pav. That’s your choice and you are making it. So – you are actively choosing it, no one is making you, so be happy about it! You are doing what you WANT so enjoy it, eat the pav and drop the resentment.
You have full choice here, so make it and own it, and drop the resentment right out of the equation. This is a huge stress reliever and immediately ups the enjoyment and peace factor.
2. You can’t find the perfect gift for Mum/Dad/The Dog
Well, you know what – perfect doesn’t exist, and the quest for it is majorly stress inducing. Change that thought from “I absolutely HAVE to find the perfect gift” (just feel how pressured that sounds!) to “Showing my love and appreciation is the most important thing – the gift is just a symbol of that – it doesn’t need to be perfect – it just needs to be nice”. And then reach for the nearest Karen Walker ring/Ecoya candle or Beach shorts/T-Shirt (you can never have to many of any of those) and be done with it. If you find something “perfect” great but don’t torture yourself endlessly. Good and nice will do, take the pressure right off perfect.
3. You feel like you are running out of time.
You’re not. You are just trying to fit too many things in. You have exactly the perfect amount of time. What you have is too many things saying they are a priority. Stop. Pick the top 3 most important, focus on those and know that the less important might not get done and that’s okay – the world will keep turning. Much more important, you ENJOY doing those three things and bring a bit of Christmas cheer into making the cake/buying the crackers/cleaning out the spare room. Stop – and say “I have the perfect amount of time to attend to what is truly important” – feel the stress reduce as you prioritise with more discernment.
4. Everyone is bickering.
Well, you know you can’t control that. I know you want everyone to be nice like the whole Christmas period but where there is copious booze plus unlimited time, and everyone all thrown together, a few little disagreements are probably par for the course. If we can change our expectation from “We should all get on the whole time” to “We are doing remarkably well spending all this time together, a few niggles are par for the course” then as our super high expectations drop, our stress levels drop too.
5. You just want it to be perfect.
What is perfect? Perfect is a feeling. It’s not all the napkins matching and the tree just so. It’s the feeling you get when you realise how blessed you are to spend time sharing with the people you care about. If the voice of perfection starts to rear it’s head slap it down with a big dose of gratitude. Okay – there might be a few things missing from your Christmas – but focusing on who or what isn’t there only makes that gap seem wider. Giving thanks for the multitude of elements that are present takes the focus out of overwhelmed and stressed and straight back to joy.
We spend so much time saying “Where are you going for Christmas” – the bach, the family congregation, the road trip. And that is cool and important. What’s just as important is where are we going in our HEADS when we think about Christmas? Are we setting ourselves up for stress and overwhelm with expectations of perfection and total harmony, or are we embracing slightly more relaxed expectations that allow us to more easily connect with the joy in the experience.
When we are getting stressed about Christmas, it’s not about making a list of what we need to DO – it’s much more asking ourselves who we can BE as we experience Christmas. Can we bring our most relaxed, fun, light-hearted, joyful selves to the party? Who do you want to BE this Christmas? I am hoping for the most fun and relaxed version of ourselves.
Also – you know – shopping off peak is really good too!