Ah, the season of joy and celebration is upon us. If you're feeling less like celebrating and more like saying "stuff the turkey, I'm off to a desert island" - you're not alone. The festive period ends up being an unhappy time of year for many, and sadly the first working Monday of the year has now become known as 'Divorce Day' - which speaks volumes about how we feel pushed to breaking point at this time of year, more so than at any other time. This was once a peaceful, restful time of year where we nourished ourselves and our bodies, slept and rested and connected in love and solidarity. It was simple, slow and restorative.
Nowadays - well if we're not battling through the crowds, fighting to get that last Paw Patrol truck or pooping unicorn (really), we're panicking about the cards we haven't sent, the cranberry sauce we absolutely MUST knock up, the 4 dozen mince pies yet to be acquired just in case anyone pops in - oh and the house is an absolute tip! - the best place to sit great auntie Ethel, the eco-credentials of our gifts, whether our turkey will live up to the latest celebrity chef's stunning creation, the lack of anything to wear to the Christmas do... not to mention fretting over our eating and drinking habits and everyone else's (then feeling terrible when we blow it and scoff and entire box of Celebrations).
And there we have it - a constant onslaught of stress, worry, panic, guilt, fretting, a dash more panic - our poor brains literally don't stand a chance.
Unless we know a few sneaky tricks to help us keep calm, that is.
The key to coping and actually enjoying yourself lies in giving your brain some breathing space - to help your wonderful intellectual mind step in and reassure the stress-driven 'fight or flight' bit that it's all ok, that there is no disaster and that you've got this, thank you very much. So a few tips to help you get there: Don't sacrifice the things that make you happy It's hugely important to keep doing the things you love doing the rest of the year. It can be tempting to sacrifice your usual 'me time' - like skipping that yoga class or not having your usual relaxing bath because there's so much to do - but it's a false economy. We need the happy hormones we get from nourishing activities to keep us mentally sharp and well, and to help us handle pressure.
Take some time for a reality check Would Christmas really be ruined if you didn't produce a Masterchef-worthy dinner for 12? Honestly? Will the world end if you don't get that absolute perfect gift? Sure, it's wonderful to give and do lovely things for those we care about - it's a great way to show our love. But here's the thing - we (as the giver/provider) place far more value on getting it right than those receiving.
It sounds a bit harsh but we give ourselves a whole lot of grief over what are essentially temporary experiences - can you remember last year's dinner, or is it a dim and distant memory? Can you remember everything you got for your birthday? Exactly.
Have a good think about what's really worth doing and enjoy prioritising the bits that really will feel worthwhile.
Focus on showing your love in other ways
Your nearest & dearest won't thank you for having everything absolutely perfect if you're so on edge that you can't relax with them and enjoy their company. Isn't that what it's really all about after all? Nobody wants to see you so stressed that you're snappy, irritable and putting a brave face on - they want you to be happy. And what they really, really want for Christmas is your time, attention and affection (though they might not show it!).
Focus on really being present with them rather than slaving away behind closed doors - maybe even get them involved in the jobs you'd usually rally through alone and find ways to make it fun. Delegation is a wonderful thing, sharing experiences is even better.
We mirror each other's behaviour so you may well even find that when you're calmer and happier, the whole family is too. What a wonderful gift that would be!
And if you need some help getting there...
I work with clients one-to-one to help them access their own coping strategies and inner resources - and to find calm, confidence and clarity in life.
I'd love to have a chat if you feel like you need a bit more help or advice.
And if food is your nemesis over the Christmas period (and the rest of the year!), watch out for my workshop on Mindful Weight Management coming up in January - I'd love to see you there.
Thank you for reading, I hope you have a great Christmas.
I'm a registered Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist and psychotherapist based in Bristol. I also offer online consultations.
If you like what you've ready, please scroll down to sign up to my blog!
I post occasional updates (no spam or third parties) and you can opt out at any time.