Do you love Christmas? Does your heart burst with joy and do you get a tear in your eye with the nostalgia of it all? Or do you get a terrible sense of anxiety in the pit of your stomach when you think about the balancing act you’ll be performing in the coming weeks?
Some UK research in 2013 revealed that on average women spend 11 days preparing for Christmas with 226 hours just on shopping! Over half the women surveyed also said that it was the most stressful time of the year for them.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. So, instead of the usual inventory of shopping, cooking and decorating that makes up a Christmas countdown, here are my tips for making the festive season a less stressful and more joyful time for you and, as a result, the people around you.
I know we don’t all love Christmas and if you’re one of those women then there is still something for you in this article; after all, you’ll be trying to cope with the madness going on around you and other people’s expectations of you.
Decide what’s most important
It might seem obvious BUT we can quickly lose sight of what matters when we’re swamped by other people’s expectations and external pressures to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas. We often do things because that’s what we always do, without questioning the WHY, so I’m asking you to stop and listen to your inner voice.
Juggling what we need to get done and managing the demands of other people in our lives at this tricky – but wonderful – time of the year means we end up trying to keep everyone else happy, and then forgetting that WE need to enjoy it too. Really think about what’s important to you and whether what you’re planning fits with that. And if it doesn’t, then how can you change it?
Give the gift of the authentic you
Of course it’s a time for giving but that doesn’t mean it’s all about presents. Giving of your true self to others, especially the ones you love, is the most powerful thing you can do.
Being present (no pun intended) in the moment during the festive season will mean you’re more emotionally available to loved ones, help you engage fully with others and let you enjoy what’s going on around you. Give your full attention to every joyful moment!
Resist the urge to splurge
Maybe it’s about finding the true spirit of Christmas or maybe it’s about not ending the year with a lot of debt; however you want to think about it you can decide to make this year different.
Happiness research has repeatedly shown that spending money on experiences beats buying things, but we live in a consumer society where the pressure to buy is very influential. As we get older we can try to make being together the most important thing; after all, we often don’t see enough of friends and family and we don’t know whether we’ll all be here next year.
Embrace the Viking power of love and bring ‘hygge’ in to your home
Did you know the Danes are some of the happiest people – despite the long, dark and cold winters? Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) doesn’t translate exactly into English but think candles, log fires, warm woollies, hot toddy and cuddles. It’s as much about human warmth and loving companionship as it is the cosy glow of the fireside. And that doesn’t cost the earth.
Get outside and breathe
When things are getting us down a breath of fresh air is great for our heads and our health. Take a walk if you can – around the block is better than nothing – and take in whatever nature you see. Even in the city we can find things to admire.
Just stepping out in to the garden for a bit can help. Look at the sky, listen to the birds, have a poke about in the plants. Take some deep breaths and try to release any tensions before you go back indoors. It’s about self-care; putting your own needs higher on the list doesn’t make you selfish, it makes you a happier and healthier person!