Christmas can be such a stressful time, with more to-do’s than you can shake a candy cane at, increased family commitments, tonnes of nights out and the added expense not to mention all the booze (and inevitable hangovers) added into the mix.
Keep calm this Christmas with these 10 Commandments (or tips, if you like!)
Seek Not Perfection
Take a deep breath and repeat after me: ‘Good enough, is good enough’. Because, the truth is, perfection doesn’t really exist. Perfection is only ever someone’s opinion, and we can’t control the opinions, thoughts and feelings of other people (we really can’t). Life is messy, not perfect, and sometimes it’s those quirky little imperfections and even *gasp* ‘mistakes’ that make life so interesting and beautiful and teach us so much. So make peace with your wonky tree, overcooked Christmas pud, and slightly too-tight festive jumper and remember, if it’s good enough, it’s good enough.
Christmas is the perfect time to take extra special care of yourself and show yourself some love (and I’m not only suggesting you treat yourself to some trifle). Do more of what makes you feel good – long walks, lots of hugs, slow bubble baths, savoring your food, sitting my the fire in a fluffy jumper (this will be me, basically all Christmas) saying nice things to yourself; it all helps. Self-love is like a soothing balm for anxiety – slather it on!
Thou Shalt Not People Please
If there’s one topic I hear loads at this time of year it’s this; boundaries! At Christmas time it might seem like there are a million festive get-togethers, hundreds of secret Santa’s for you to be involved with and clients who want the world on a stick before December 24th – but you can’t do everything. If you’re rubbish at setting boundaries and end up saying ‘yes’ too much just to keep everyone happy – you’ll be heading for yuletide burnout before you can say chocolate log! Instead, get clear on exactly what it is you want and need; if you need more rest, tell your pals you’re too exhausted to party. If you’re skint until January, let your running club mates know that you’re going to duck out of the Secret Santa this year. Don’t be afraid to say no when it comes to your mental health and wellbeing; it has to come first.
Thou shalt not hate on thy body
Body anxiety: apparently it’s something that affects 90% of women (and a lot of men, too). That’s some crazy bullshit right there and very few of us are immune. And as we increase junk food and booze around Christmas and gym time gets put on hold until January 2nd it can make us more body-anxious than ever. Give yourself a break around this time. A couple of days of eating what you want is not going to ruin you; so be kind. Nothing makes you crave sugar more than self-loathing; so be nice to your body rather than beating yourself up. Remember how amazing your body is and think about all the incredible things it does and allows you to experience. Enjoy your food and get back to eating better on December 27th.
Thou shalt ask for help
Christmas can be especially hard because there’s so much expectation; to have fun, relax and be merry. And if you feel anything but, it’s really tough. So please, please, if you’re suffering over the Christmas period, don’t suffer in silence. Tell someone. Friend, family member, doctor, Samaritans, your cat (I’ve always felt pets are the best listeners around). The people in your life love and want you to be happy. Don’t bottle things up.
Thy Father and thy Mother
Spiritual teacher Ram Das said ‘If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family’. Yes, as much as we love ’em, too much time with M + D can be preeeeetty stressful.
Families can bring out the worst in us, triggering old wounds and insecurities, winding us up and causing us to regress to being 5-year-olds again. Try to come up with a strategy beforehand to avoid any family melodrama. Think about what your triggers might be and come up with a plan to tackle them. Do you know that 3 days with Mum is your maximum before things get too tense? Then make sure you don’t stay too long. Does your sister’s Christmas stress-fest make you panicky? Delegate tasks to the rest of the family so that sis feels supported and can have a calm Christmas.
Eat, drink and be merry
…But remember the effect booze has on anxiety. Drink plenty of water in between the glasses of champers and if you do have a hangover the next day; be kind to yourself and remember ‘this too shall pass’ and that you won’t feel crap forever.
Keep to thy routine
If you’re home for the holidays for a week (or more) try and keep some semblance of your routine. Whether you head out for a run or two, keep at your daily 10 minute meditations or carry on sipping your sleepy time tea; sticking to your usual routine in some way can ensure you’re still taking care of yourself and makes it easier to stay on track once the Christmas period is over.
Thou shalt unplug
How about making Christmas a time to unplug, recharge and switch off from social media for a few days? Spend some time just focusing on real life and the people around you and use it as an excuse to forget about the wider world for a while. It’s a great way to give yourself a mental break.
Be thee grateful
Do I sound like a broken record for harping on about gratitude? It’s because it works. At the end of every day over the holidays make a note of three things you’re grateful for; things you appreciated or that went well. It feels good, plus it helps to train your brain to automatically look for more positive things.
I hope you have a very Happy and Calm Christmas!
Which of these tips will you be trying this Christmas to stay calm – and do you have any more ideas for us? Let us know in the comments.