Surviving Christmas by Annabel Sutton
The holiday season is upon us - the cash tills are ringing - the car parks are full to bursting - the shops are heaving - and stress levels are rising.
Christmas is such an important event in our calendar, but over the years it seems that the whole run-up to it has become increasingly stressful - and for some the day itself is regarded with an apprehension verging on dread.
So, here’s a few ideas which may help to ease the stress and allow you some space to enjoy the festive season. The general thrust of this tip is about tempering expectations, and daring to do things differently.
For all the perfectionists out there this time of year can be a real nightmare as the Need To Do Things Perfectly swings into overdrive. Persistent advertising induces huge pressure to roll out the perfect Christmas: perfect gifts - perfect parties - how to cook the perfect turkey ... so here are a few tips that might help:
* DELEGATE/ASK FOR HELP/SUPPORT
- If the majority of the work falls on your shoulders (buying gifts, writing cards, doing decorations, preparing the meals etc) don't suffer alone. If you do you'll have an exhausting Christmas and probably end up feeling resentful as well. Do ask for help from those around you - partner, children, family, friends. There's something extremely companionable about preparing food or writing cards together ... It feels very festive and will significantly ease the burden on you.
* BEWARE "SHOULDS"
- Christmas is full of "shoulds". Be aware of the number of times you think or say this word. It almost always implies that you're about to embark on something you don't really want to do - but feel you ought to. In other words, the impetus is stemming from external expectations. The antidote is simply to supplant the word should with could. This instantly introduces the element of choice. No, you DON'T have to brave the crowds to buy just one more gift for Uncle Jim ... you could, but you might choose not to... * TEMPER EXPECTATIONS
- of others and, more importantly, of yourself. Let go of being perfect - embrace your mistakes...
* According to one newspaper, on average we will spend between £400 and £1,000 on gifts this year. All very well if you can afford it, but for those struggling with mortgage payments, credit card or other debts, this is madness. How about doing things differently this year? I appreciate that it can be hard if you've got children who are desperate for the latest toy craze, but how about having a spending ceiling on gifts for the adults in the family? A friend told me recently that one year her family all agreed that gifts could cost no more than £1 - and what fun they'd had trying to find - or make themselves - something for that price. Whatever you do, it's just not worth spending above your means and facing the terrible stress of soaring debt in the New Year.
* I know several people who have decided to give a donation to charity this year instead of sending Christmas cards. It may not save you money, but it will save lots of precious time and energy and benefit those who really need it.
* How about breaking with tradition and doing what we do in our family: enjoy the traditional turkey on Christmas Day, but save the pudding until Boxing Day. Not only does this take the pressure off the cook, but the stomach as well!
* Don't forget to get out and do some exercise over the Christmas period. We all eat and drink more than usual, so getting out for a walk and some fresh air always feels great and does you good.
Best wishes for a very happy festive season and all best wishes for a healthy and peaceful New Year.
Copyright 2010 Annabel Sutton is a UK life coach and author, she offers personal life coaching and procrastination buster days from her website
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