With Christmas just around the corner, some of you may be noticing the stress, apprehension, excitement or dread rising, knowing full well what Christmas day means and plays out like for you and your family.
Whether Christmas for you is an exciting but busy time, or a time where strained family dynamics are emphasised, you may find my tips helpful on how to practice some self-care throughout the busy holiday period.
6 Tips to a Smooth Christmas:
- Make a plan: Plan your Christmas shopping list, and also make a schedule for Christmas day. This allows you to clearly prioritise, fit in, or have an escape plan from Christmas festivities depending on how busy or distressing your Christmas commitments may be.
- Learn to set boundaries for yourself and say ‘no’: Yes Christmas can be hectic, but it is important that we accept help from others, delegate when things get too much, and say ‘no’ rather than over-commit ourselves and become overwhelmed. Christmas is meant to be a happy time spent with those we love and we won’t be able to relax or enjoy the holidays if we take on too much and are left feeling resentful or overwhelmed when saying ‘yes’ to something we really don’t want to or have time to do. If there are certain things you simply cannot compromise on, make sure you pull back from other things in your schedule to allow some other time to wind down. Others will understand that you can’t make it to every event, or contribute in ways you may be able to during less periods of the year.
- Get out of the kitchen/away from the BBQ: Forget the over-the-top menu and plan something delicious, yet easy. This will enable you to spend the day with your children or family, not hidden away cooking. And if you have guests coming to your place, ask them to bring a plate of something even if it’s just a salad, or to chip in for the cost of all the food you have bought to serve on the day.
- Create new traditions, or make a toast to the past: If Christmas doesn’t feel right since the passing of a loved one or the separation of a family, make sure you declare a heartfelt toast to the one or ones you have lost, or if there has been a separation do things slightly differently. Doing things differently can mean doing small things or big things depending on how your family is feeling. It might mean watching a movie on Christmas Eve all together, making a new and special Christmas breakfast, changing the order of how you do things on the morning of Christmas day, or going on a holiday for Christmas rather than staying at home. Changing things up and making new special traditions will help you all feel more comfortable and connected on the day.
- Slow down: Whether it is snapping at your loved ones because you are stressed with the Christmas preparations, or retaliating to a family member who loves to stir things up on Christmas Day, become aware of the patterns that occur, and be armed and ready with some tools to help you through. These tools need to be things you find calming or enjoy, as the person we have the most influence over in our lives is ourselves. Techniques might include counting to 10 before responding when provoked and rise about the game playing while choosing to be the bigger person, taking a 5 minute break every now and then in a calm and quiet place or room so that you can recharge for a moment (focus on allowing your breathing to calm down and find its natural rhythm), take a gentle walk after lunch or before dinner with family, or put on some music.
- Take and print photos: Christmas is a time, usually more than others throughout the year, when the whole family makes an effort to get together. As we get older though, some of these relatives may no longer be around, so it is really important to make sure you prioritise taking photos of everyone together when you have the chance (even though sometimes it feels like a big hassle and you might be fake-smiling for what seems like a life-time). I personally was lucky to have 3 of my great grandparents, all of my great aunties and uncles, and all four of my grandparents around until more recent years, and the photos of us all together at Christmas are some of the most precious we have.
Whether you are spending time with two people, or twenty-two people, enjoy the break, relax, and take some time out for yourself these holidays.
Merry Christmas everyone
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