Christmas is supposed to be a fun time of the year but when you’re already busy, this time of year can become really stressful if you’re not careful. With all the organising and diplomacy, extra shopping and creeping around with secret presents it can be hard to stay relaxed, in control and quite simply – sane.
For many of my clients an increase in stress can also lead to an increase in emotional eating – and with all the festive tasty treats it can just add pressure that you just don’t need at this time of year.
So, I’ve created a simple strategy to help you stay in control this year.
- Find a way to stay relaxed. It’s even more important to stay relaxed at busy times of the year. It sounds difficult but often taking a 10 minute ‘stress relief’ break can make you more productive when you get back to what you’re doing. Take a 10 minute breather whenever you’re feeling that you are on the brink of overwhelm, even if you think you’re far too busy. This kind of thinking makes you less productive, more likely to make mistakes and more likely to head for a total meltdown. So give yourself a break.
- Work out what’s important to you and your immediate family (like your partner and your kids) and plan your Christmas accordingly. I refer to this as your Christmas Values. What can you do to ensure that your Christmas goes according to your values? There’s always a little compromise and diplomacy to be done around Christmas but try not to let other people impose their values on you. You don’t have to accept all invites to all events, just because other people want you to. Decide on the days you’ll stay home and those you’ll be available for visiting.
- Know that you’re doing the best you can with what you have. You don’t have to be supermum, it’s ok to let go of stuff or to delegate. Believe that you are enough and be grateful for all that you have. You don’t need to cook everything from scratch or have the biggest feast. You don’t have to have everything wrapped well in advance. In fact, we have never wrapped stocking presents – life’s too bloody short, especially when you have 3 kids!
- Make a plan. Whether it’s cards, gifts or food, get organised by planning. Make lists, checklist and menus so that you know exactly where you are with all the pre-Christmas stuff. I find it helpful to have a rough outline of timings and to have a reference list of where all my recipes are so I can find them easily. I also like to have all of my side dishes cooked on Christmas eve, so I just reheat on the day. You can create your own shortcuts, so that you feel more organised.
- Enlist the kids’ help. Dependent on how old they are, you can get them making cards, ornaments and decorations or doing the baking for you or with you. And it’s not just kids, you can ask other people to help out in all sorts of ways; contribute a dish, set the table, bring a table ornament ~ whatever you need help with.