Christmas and the New Year are only weeks away and each day that passes I can see that people around me are getting more and more stressed. They are worried about what they are going to buy, when will they have the time, have they got enough money, how will I meet everyone’s expectations and be the best host for the main event. List of things to do seem endless and the resources and time are limited. All this can be so over whelming that most people allow themselves to be pulled pillar to post trying to juggle everything and make the big day happen according to their hopes and wishes. Surely this is not what Christmas is all about? Where is the magic, the wonder, the faith and peace? Are we looking for Christmas in Bluewater and the High Streets and in fulfilling the desires of others wants and needs?
I decided a couple of years ago to make some changes to my habits, expectations and focus over Christmas and the New Year. I truly wanted to experience the Christmas spirit; the spirit of joy and giving and sharing. So here are some tips that you can apply and see if it works for you.
1. Put Yourself First. By that I mean, evaluate your resources, time and work and then plan a Christmas around that. Pay your bills and put all your obligations before
hurrying off anxiously trying to please everyone. Your stability for the rest of the 364 days is important and you need to keep that in mind. So have a budget and stick to it.
2. Lose Your Ego. Look at your motives behind purchasing big and expensive presents, over loading the fridge with food enough for a month, the need to have this and that and everything else in between. Most of us are competing with friends, family, neighbours and the media that we get lost in the competition and forget the
meaning and the reason behind this big annual event.
3. Make a Plan and Delegate. Write a list of things to do and share responsibility with the other members of your family or whoever is going to be involved. Sharing
responsibilities also makes everyone feel that they too are a part of the big day and have also played their role in making it a fun and happy day/event for everyone.
Research has shown that when a group of people share a common goal and work towards achieving that goal as a team, they are more likely to achieve success.
4. Get Creative. Being creative is exercising your mind and achieves a similar reaction to your mind as exercise does to your body. So cook as much at home rather than buying, get creative with your decorations, gifts and food. Not only will this save you money you will be amazed at how good you will feel.
5. Make Time To Relax. When we get busy and have lots to do to meet deadlines, it can all get overwhelming and Christmas is a time when we think we have to get everything done and make no time to stop and relax. We fear that if we do nothing then we are losing precious time when there is so much to do. The irony is that if we
stop and make time to relax, we will actually have more energy to do all the things that need to get done and are likely to achieve it without getting stressed and tired. I have found that by the time the actual day arrives, most of us are so tired that we are too tired to actually enjoy all that we have had planned.
6. Finally, Hold Gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have rather than feel depressed or inadequate about what you don’t have. It is a big world out there and so think of the bigger picture; there are so many people out there who have less than nothing and are going through poverty, ill health, loss, grief and horror. Cancer and homelessness does not go away for people just because it is December 25th, so do something to help and give to another, seek the Christmas spirit in Love and in being human, not in your bank account and a Gucci bag.
So here’s wishing you all a stress free lead up to the Big Day.
Exploring relaxation can help you look after yourself when you’re feeling stressed or worried. Have a look at these tips and ideas to see how relaxation can fit into your daily life. Don’t worry if some ideas don’t work for you – just enjoy the ones that do:
Take a break.
Relaxation doesn’t have to take up lots of your time. Just stepping away from something stressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughts can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer. Read a book or a magazine, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Run yourself a bath, watch a film, play with a pet or try out a new recipe.
Try active relaxation.
Relaxation doesn’t have to mean sitting still – gentle exercise can help you relax too. Take a walk, going at your own pace. You might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed. Look for a class you'd like to try, such as yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching. See our page on physical activity and mental health for more tips. If you're interested in getting more active to support your mental health, take a look at our Get Set to Go campaign to find out more about how you can get active in your local area.
Focus on your breathing.
Learning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out. Count as you breathe. Start by counting 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe in and 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe out. Try to work out what’s comfortable for you.