Christmas, as well as being the most wonderful time of the year, can also be a very stressful one.
We asked, funny and inspiring author of Best Knickers Always and professional life-coach, Rebecca Perkins for her top tips on staying merry this festive season.
What crazy pressures we pile on ourselves at this time of year.
I don’t know about you but in seasons past I have felt completely run down and exhausted by Boxing Day. The fantasy Christmas we’re fed in the media, in magazines and TV adverts with gloriously dressed trees, tables groaning under a veritable feast of goodies, smiling, bright eyed children, husbands helping out and cheerful mothers-in-law all dressed in beautiful jewel coloured cashmere and velvet are all there not so much to inspire but make us feel even more insecure!
Why in heavens name to we do this to ourselves?
So if you’re already feeling your pre-Christmas stress levels rising and in need of a little pep talk then here are some tips to get you through the festive season. Keep in mind the words of Maya Angelou,
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
- Accept all offers of help and indeed don’t shy away from asking for it either. As a recovering control freak this was quite a challenge for me. Delegate is the word of the season! Christmas is no place for martyrs, it’s not a good look and leaves a bitter after taste!
- Have a plan, you don’t necessarily need to follow it to the letter but it’ll give you structure. Be organised and break tasks down week by week in the run up especially if you know you’ll have a house full. Ticking things off a list is deeply pleasing! And make it fun!
- Which of your Christmas traditions could do with an overhaul? What do you do that you’ve always done (and your mother before you)? What are your non negotiables? What short cuts can you take to lighten the load? What would it be like to break with tradition altogether or even start a new one?
- Make time for rest and relaxation. And that’s an order! If you’re someone who exercises and mediates regularly make sure you keep it up. We know that mindfulness meditation reduces stress levels. We also know that exercise releases endorphins, those euphoria inducing chemicals. Mindfulness and exercise, now that’s quite a heady cocktail to see you through the season!
- I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions but I do use this time to think back to all that’s happened during the year. I write down my reflections, with a glass of wine in hand, candles burning and my favourite music on. It’s a mini life review and I ask myself,
- What do I want more of in my life next year?
- What do I want less of?
- What do I want to stop/start or change next year?
- What did I learn last year?
- What did I do really well? And how will I celebrate?
- What am I grateful for?
- What will make this coming year the best one yet?
Here’s a little coaching exercise which always works for me.
Think of three things you’d like to feel over the Christmas period. (Here are mine – Joy: Contentment: Relaxed).
You got yours? Ok, so think of a time when you’ve felt each of the feelings you’ve identified. Run a movie in your head as you remember back to that time, making sure it’s in technicolor and surround sound! Use all your senses to create a full picture. What do you see, hear, feel, taste and smell? Where in your body do you feel this ‘memory’? The richer and fuller you can create this image the more powerful it will be.
Take your time.
Once you have done this for all three feelings project it forward to Christmas time. Imagine in your mind’s eye feeling all these things as you run Christmas through your very own movie maker. Know that you now have the strategies and ability to fully feel your own version of ‘Joy, Contentment and Relaxed’.
Oh and remember along the way to have some fun and enjoy the little things.
Remember this too, that friends and family come to spend time with us because they love us. They don’t come to score us out of ten for our cooking or our tree decoration….and if they do then I’d suggest a severe editing of your friendship list in the New Year!
Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a happy and abundant New Year.
p.s. – How ready are you for 2015? Wouldn’t it be great to start the new year clear about the direction you want to go? What would it be like to have the confidence to start something new, to make a big decision, to simply start really living life?
I’m offering a 25% discount to all One Book Lane readers for a one off one hour coaching session if booked in December. Contact me here quoting One Book Lane and let’s get started!
Rebecca Perkins’ Best Knickers Always: 50 Lessons for Midlife is out now in paperback and eBook.