It's the most wonderful (and stressful) time of the year!Dec 13, 2021
The "most wonderful time of the year" can also be one of the most stressful.
But is this Christmas Stress an inevitable and unavoidable part of the festive season or are there things you can do (beyond powering through or planning every minute) to make the next few weeks feel more enjoyable and less forced?
If your Christmas is anything like mine, it’s more than just friends and relatives who show up wanting attention for the festive season. Emotions show up on mass, welcome and unwelcome!
It's easy to say "it's just one day in the year" but it's not always easy to remember this when perfectionism or high expectations kick in, the diary gets too full of work, social and family "to-dos", or worries / memories from crazy Christmases past come to mind.
However, a little bit of brain-friendly thinking and preparation could help shift your Christmas mindset out of “survival mode” and into a place where you
- Find it easier to prioritise "important" vs "nice to have" vs "not part of my Christmas"
- Have time to do things you enjoy not just run around after others or be a participant in someone else's vision of Christmas
- Don't see this as one long "to-do" list, planning challenge, or money-sponge.... but can actually connect with some of the joys of Christmas
- Aren't dreading "inevitable" family tension or "too much" family time
- Feel confident you will be able to handle things if they don't quite go to plan
STEP ONE : Plan to avoid the worst not create perfection.
This might sound really "bah humbug" but stick with me. A lot of pre-Christmas Stress comes from either setting ultra-high expectations for the day and/or dreading a repeat of disasters from past Christmases.
Take a little time to recognise what the Christmas trigger points are for you & your family (people not helping, TV fights, too many dietary requests, politics, not getting out & about, drunk uncle, lack of sleep, too much sugar, ...). Everyone's trigger points are different.
Then come up with little "rescue" plans to avoid them or salvage the situation should they happen this year.
This addresses a couple of stressors in a really brain friendly way.
- It avoids the expectation of perfection from creeping in .
- We tackle stress at it's source ... which is anything the brain considers "unpredictable, uncontrollable, unnecessary".
- We get a feeling of competence and confidence that we have it covered! We wont be relying on our emotional (possibly alcohol fuelled) brain to find solutions in the moment
- There will be more brain space to think about the happy, positive aspects of Christmas
So take 5-10 minutes to write down....
- What do you find most unmanageable about Christmas?
- What could you do to minimise the risk of this happening?
Over the next few days I will send a few steps ... ideas for your "rescue" plans, and more detailed suggestions of things you can do in the run up to Christmas to prepare mentally not just practically for a stress-free Christmas.
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