How to stay calm this Christmas
Christmas is fast approaching and this one promises to be much more festive and joyful than last year.
But as ever, Christmas can be a stressful time. Let’s look at ways we can stay calm this Christmas… whatever the festivities throw at you.
Does the image above fill you with excitement or dread? I think that blurred person in the picture is me… running through the shopping arcade with sweat beading on my brow, my heart pounding and my mind racing with something along the lines of “What was that bloody Paw Patrol thing I was supposed to get while it was on offer!? Oh s#*t! The offer! I forgot about the offer and now it’s over!”
In all honesty as much as I adore Christmas, the run up to it can often make me feel physically ill with stress. As well as working full time, looking after three kids and trying to maintain some semblance of personal hygiene; I now have to buy 937 gifts (and wrap them), supersize my social life and organise what feels like a major event on a par with Glastonbury. This year I’m determined to be able to be a bit more present, a bit less frantic and a bit more, well festive! After a bit of research and some soul-searching, I’ve come up with five top tips for how to stay calm this Christmas. I hope they work for me, and for you.
- Get perspective
You do not need to have an Insta-perfect December to have a wonderful Christmas. We are bombarded with images on social media of how our dining tables should be laid out, which decorations we should have, the type of foods we should be serving. It’s too much stress! The one that really piles the pressure on me is seeing all the Christmas activities that people are doing with their kids. Tea parties with Santa, wreath-making workshops, doorstep visits from elves… they all conspire to make me feel like a terrible, lazy Mother who hasn’t gotten around to booking all the activities required for festive fun. For those of you who really want a good laugh, check out my thoughts on the little b*stard that is the elf on the shelf. I wrote this a few years ago and stand by every word! If your aim is to stay calm this Christmas then it’s vital you commit to doing your version of the perfect Christmas. And if that means doing not much but drinking hot chocolate and watching Miracle on 34th Street on repeat, so be it. Step away from social media and stop drawing comparisons!
- Be realistic about gift expectations
I’ve written about this one already but I really think it’s important. The idea of me buying the wrong gifts/not enough gifts/generally rubbish gifts causes me no end of stress in the run up to the big day. Honest conversations about what you can afford to spend might feel awkward, but having a budget to work to makes life easier for everyone. Have the Christmas you can afford, not the Christmas which will see you paying off debts all the following year. After last years’ strange, distant festive season, this year we should all be too busy enjoying being in each others presence, to worry about presents. See what I did there?
I hate to throw in a stonking huge gender stereotype but it’s true that the Christmas responsibilities more often than not fall onto the shoulders of women. All well and good back in the day where women stayed at home with time to make homemade cranberry chutney (that’s a thing isn’t it!?). But now that most women are out at work, project managing Christmas on top of holding down a job can mean we’re too busy to really enjoy the festive period. The key to this is good old-fashioned delegation. Stop being a martyr and ask for help! Maybe you don’t want your partner or kids to do the gift shopping or cook the turkey, but there’s no reason they can’t help with wrapping or laying the table. Try to make Christmas a real family team effort.
- Allocate planning time
Christmas can take major effort, especially if you have a big family. If you really want to stay calm this Christmas; treat it like the project that it is and allocate yourself some planning time. A couple of hours per week from early November will save lots of last minute panic on Christmas eve. Make lists: the benefits are twofold. Firstly you’re going to feel much more calm having everything you need to do written down in front of you rather than having it all swirling around your head. Secondly; you’ll feel super efficient and smug ticking things off throughout December!
- Seek out the joy
When you feel like you’re really losing your calm this Christmas (and it will inevitably happen at some point) try this little exercise: ask yourself what you remember from your best childhood Christmases? Take the time to remember the sounds, smells, foods you ate, places you visited. Personally I cannot remember a single stand-out gift from my childhood… but I remember the feel of Christmas, the togetherness, the warmth, the imperfect perfection of our tinsel covered fake tree. Seek out the parts of Christmas that are going to bring you happiness rather than stress, I’ll bet my bottom dollar that all the simplest things are the ones that bring the most joy.
Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj from the website Parent Circle insists that amidst the flurry of Christmas activity our focus should always be on the sharing; which is a great lesson for our kids to learn from an early age!