Uh huh... it’s here again! Is it just me or do they feel like they are coming faster each year? Nothing like another Christmas to realise you’re getting older! And nothing like another Christmas to put you on the edge.
Family. Funds. Frivolity. Food.... Fights. All of it! Christmas is one day on the calendar that sure makes us feel alive, for the good and the bad! Christmas is emotionally charged, there is no denying it. So what can you do to make the cray cray less so? What can you do to look after YOU in the busy? What can you do to avoid getting sucked in to drama? Over spending? Or disappointment? LOTS!
I've put together a list of 10 ways you can stay HEALTHY this Christmas... from organisational tips to mindset ideas and more... there is something here for EVERYONE!
Ok, let's get into it...
No one wants a family blow up when Aunty Pearl oversteps the mark or when tiny Timmy doesn’t get his $800 LEGO set from Santa do they? No? Right. So you need to be clear up front. You need to decide what is ok and what isn’t. What you will accept and what you won’t. Setting boundaries and politely enforcing them is Christmas survival 101. Everyone knows where they stand.
Do it your way
Ask yourself, “What does Christmas mean to ME?” or “To my immediate family?” Not my Mum, not my boss, not my best friend ... ME. Remain committed to your version of Christmas. Not Instagram’s. Not Hallmark’s. Not Women’s Weekly’s.
Use lists to keep you sane
Got a big family to buy for? Use lists.
Got a day of running here there and everywhere for breakfast lunch and dinner? Use lists.
Have a bazillion meals to plan, prepare and cook? Use lists.
Can’t trust your brain to recall details on time and with accuracy? Use lists.
Find yourself taking on more and more tasks? Use lists.
Are you seeing the theme...? Something about a list maybe?! I am a list lady through and through. Without them I wouldn’t survive – anything! I make lists for anything and everything...I need stuff in writing and in front of me or I just can’t think. I get confused and forgetful and then I just get frustrated and angry! So get yourself a notebook or a whiteboard and start writing!
Prepare to modify your own expectations
Nothing ever goes 100% to plan does it? Well not much in life anyway. On Christmas Day we tend to create this ‘ideal’ outcome in our mind. We stick to it at all costs. But what if there is a hidden cost? What if rigidity meant a lost moment of surrendering to the humorous side of mishaps and accidents? Serviettes you ordered on eBay the wrong shade of green? Laugh it off. Star on the tree refusing to sit up straight in time for the obligatory staged family photo? Who cares! Icing on the cake got a pothole from a curious 3 year old’s pointer finger? LAUGH. Don’t put stress and anger out into the world as it’ll only bring you AND others down! As I always say to my kids (and my daughter reminds me of it allllll the time - right when I need it most!) ... “It is what it is”.
Outsource, delegate and accept offers of help
Let’s face it, even a simple Christmas can be a lot of work. So this one is a no brainer but a hard one to stick to as a lot of us don’t want to let ANYTHING slip from our control - call it self imposed overwhelm!
There’s food to sort, shopping to do, dining tables to set up, presents to wrap etc. WHY do it alone and stress yourself to an early head of grey hair? DELEGATE. However you do it, do it! Having family at your place? Right... Aunty Marge you’re on drinks, Aunty Maeve you’re doing desert. I’ll do the meat and you do the salad. Simple? Simple.
Give yourself the gift of time management
December disappears in an instant. It’s without a doubt the busiest month on the calendar, for most people. All the extra events, shopping, commitments and chores. When it comes to actually making the most of the limited time you have, think about how you can best use that time.
- Can you group tasks by the location in which they need to need to be done so you only have to visit that place or area once?
- Can you plan days on which you will do tasks that are related? Think no double handling.
- Can you deliberately pick certain tasks and slot them in around life ‘stuff’ based on how long you know they’ll take to complete?
Remember to allow yourself extra time to get to where it is you’re going and to actually do whatever it is you need to do. You’ll be dealing with traffic and crowds don’t forget!
About what you can afford
About who you ‘need’ to buy for
About how much time there really is in one day
About the availability of resources
About the coordination it takes to pull together an event
About the tasks you agree to take on
About the level or standard you are trying to maintain
About your own limitations
Look after your own mental health
Feeling worn out? Overwhelmed? Tired? Emotional? Listen to your body! It’s trying to give you vital hints that it’s not feeling right. Despite the chaos that is December we still need to make a DELIBERATE plan to look after ourselves. Amidst the busy we need to remain committed to doing ‘us’. Good sleep. Hobbies. Personal self-care. Whatever it is don’t stop doing YOU because you’re too busy doing CHRISTMAS! Christmas lasts a day but burn out and other related mental and physical health conditions can hang around much longer. Remember, life doesn’t stop for one day.
Enjoy your day
This one is so obvious and easy to forget. We get to 9pm and fall on the couch going “My gosh I’m glad that’s over for another day”. WRONG. That’s not what you want to aim for. Why spend all the time, money and energy for THAT kind of result? Uh uh. Not in my house. You want to be able to say “I’m so tired but geez I had such a good day!” At the risk of sounding totally cliche, remember to focus on what the day is about - FUN. MAKING MEMORIES. HUMOUR. BEING TOGETHER.
Carry an attitude of gratitude
Christmas is seriously commercial. You only have to hit the shops in what - October? - to know it starts early. The focus is always on STUFF! More toys. More food. More gifts. More decorations. Big business and their awesome marketing teams successfully convince us that in order to be happy and to keep up or fit in, we NEED more. The idea that enough is enough is in fact not enough, in their money hungry eyes. You have to want more. Give more. Be more. Make more. Do more. Celebrate more. Spend more. According to who I ask? In between unwrapping presents, cooking, travelling and stressing just stop for a minute and look around.
What good can you see? Laughter? Hugs? Smiles? Kindness? Friends? Family? Love?
That's the stuff that really matters. Not all the commercial ‘stuff’. The stuff that makes us feel warm and fuzzy. The stuff that makes us feel connected to our fellow human beings. The stuff that keeps the fire burning and the stuff that warms our heart.
The stuff that reminds us that life is short... and eternally precious. The stuff that reminds us of all that we have and makes us forget about all that we don't. The Dali Lama has it right... "life's purpose is to be happy. And gratitude makes you happy."
So there you have it... 10 ways to ensure you have a happy and HEALTHY Christmas in 2019!
If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy my articles How To Survive Christmas With Social Anxiety and 31 Journaling Prompts That’ll Help You SMASH 2020! I hope you and your loved ones have an amazing Christmas full of light and love. Make sure you take time to rest, relax and ENJOY what the summer holidays are all about...FUN! If you need support over the summer break I will be available for phone and online appointments and in-office work will commence again in the last week of January 2020. If you find yourself needing crisis support at any time during this period you can call Lifeline or Beyond Blue 24 hours a day. You can also present to your local Emergency Room if you need immediate support in a life threatening situation.
Until next week...
Yours in better mental health,
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Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!