NE Life Coach tips to enjoy a stress-free Christmas

Well Christmas is nearly here.  The culmination of all those preparations, all that shopping, present wrapping, baking and cooking.

It always intrigues me how we put so much pressure on ourselves to have the perfect Christmas, although we probably don’t even know what that is.  Yet we’re bombarded from all sides with images of what it’s “supposed” to be.

Pressure is heaped on us about what we should feel; yet for many, family gatherings are anything but fun, finances are a constant worry, some may be grieving and the added stress of trying to give children everything you would want to at Christmas can be difficult.

We may not be able to provide the best ever Christmas, but we can provide our best selves at Christmas-time.

Of course, to do this we need to look after ourselves.

So, my invitation to you this Christmas is to give yourself the gift of self-care.  I don’t have a magic wand to make everything perfect but there are some things we can do to help us through this season.

The Best You

We can consciously choose to bring the best version of ourselves to each day.  By doing this we can also empower ourselves to celebrate or not celebrate in whatever way is right for each of us.

Acceptance, Compassion and Gratitude

Things rarely go to plan and that’s fine if we remain flexible, bringing our compassion and sense of humour with us we can enjoy those detours from our plans.  Think back for a moment, which are the Christmas memories that stick out in your mind? Are they the ones where everything ran smoothly and like clockwork? Perhaps like me they are the ones when things didn’t go as planned and everyone had a great laugh about it all.
Whatever happens, remember to practice gratitude; just take a couple of minutes to smile and offer your thanks.

Put your own oxygen mask on first!

It can be a real pleasure to look after others but remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup!  Don’t let yourself become burnt out and frazzled.
More than likely we will be out of our normal routine, we may be drinking more and eating more, staying up later and getting up earlier!  The reality is that this can leave us tired, frazzled and sometimes a bit irritable.
Try to  schedule some time for things that you know will help you restore you emotionally, physically and spiritually.  It may simply be a short mindful breathing meditation, perhaps a walk in the fresh air, writing in your journal or building a snowman!

Practice saying ‘No’

Yep, I know that this is actually a really tough one.  This time of year is full of extra obligations, parties, family gatherings, exchanging gifts, cooking, catering, accommodating, visiting and generally trying to keep everyone happy!

News flash!! You don’t have to do it all.

Try selecting those things that are most important to you.  You don’t have to buy gifts or send cards ‘because you always have done’.  Try giving yourself permission to do what you enjoy, shop within budget and celebrate in a way that’s right for you.

Remember that invitations are just that – an invitation, not a command!

Happy Shiny People

Now we all know some mood hoovers, don’t we?  Those people who will suck the energy and joy out of you.  They can leave you feeling exhausted and grumpy.  If you cannot avoid them completely, try limiting the time you spend with them and always balance this with seeking out those people that you know will lift your mood.  The ones that constantly exude a happy and positive energy.

Be Realistic

‘It will be different this time’, ‘they won’t drink as much this time’, ‘she won’t give me back-handed compliments this year,’ ‘she won’t complain about the food this time.’

I used to have this kind of expectation.  I had absolutely no evidence to back it up and to be honest it was more of a hope wrapped up in an expectation with a big bow on top!  It  can be helpful to bring yourself back to reality and consider what your options are.  What will you say, how will you reply, what will you do?  How can you react in a way that will make the situation manageable for you? Plan it and practise it!  If it’s saying something, practise saying it out loud this will make it much easier to do on the day.  You know that you won’t be able to change someone else’s behaviour so consider how you can adapt your own response to maintain your self-care.

Sometimes we can expect everything to be the same as it has always been. Being realistic, the priorities in our lives change over time for example, when there is a new partner, children arrive on the scene or perhaps the other person simply needs to do something different for their own well-being.   Naturally this can be disappointing and in its extreme we can turn it into a perceived slight.  Step back, breathe, show compassion and understanding.

Be Present

Being aware of what’s happening within you and around you will certainly help you maintain your well-being.  Staying present and noticing if you are becoming over-tired or stressed.  You may enjoy some elements more than others so really focus on those elements that you do enjoy, soak up all the pleasure from it.  Short mindfulness breathing meditations can be a real help.  Just sign up for my free newsletter and you can access the free guided mindfulness meditations.

Give yourself a break

Whether you are off work for a couple of days, a week or 2 weeks, give yourself a break, a real break.  Stop dashing around, travelling, visiting and hosting.  Spend some time restoring you!   A quiet afternoon with good book, a walk along the beach, a peaceful dinner, an early night!  They really can work wonders.

Whatever you decide to do I wish you everything you wish for yourself and your family have a truly happy Christmas and a wonderful 2019!