More Festive Fun, Less Seasonal Stress
This blog includes a meditation for you to enjoy
Christmas means different things to different people. Many people love everything about Christmas, others hate it. Most people are somewhere along a scale between love and hate. I’d hazard a guess that, like many people, you enjoy Christmas and would like to enjoy it more but find it can be a stressful time of year.
Many people question the effort and fuss put in for ‘just one day’. However, for most people, Christmas is not just one day. It is the whole of the festive period. It is everything we do in the run-up to Christmas, during Advent and over the Christmas period, not just what we do on Christmas day. The time, thought, preparation and love that goes into preparing for Christmas is not just for Christmas day, it is for the whole of the festive period and beyond. It is one of many ways we show our love for those we care about. It is about spending quality time with family and friends. It is about making memories for life.
Much of the pressure and stress is put on us by ourselves in an effort to create the ‘Perfect Christmas’. We forget that ‘Perfection’ is an impossible goal. If we can let go of this arbitrary goal, relax and take pleasure in the moments of fun, the moments of laughter, the moments of joy, the moments of connection, and the moments of love, then we can truly enjoy the festive fun.
Here are my top tips to reduce the stress, and increase the joy this Christmas:
1. Stick to a Budget.
No doubt you hear this all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less valid. There is never any point struggling to pay for Christmas, facing huge credit card bills in January or getting into debt to buy gifts. No one you love wants you to be buying them gifts at the cost of your financial security or your mental health and wellbeing. Equally, the food can be kept simple, prepared and presented beautifully.
2. Thoughtfully chosen or lovingly made, inexpensive gifts are more valuable.
It is perfectly ok to buy second hand items, give a home-made voucher for your time, give something home-made or hand-crafted. These gifts are often actually appreciated more than more expensive off-the-shelf gifts.
3. You don’t need to spend lots of money entertaining children.
We are bombarded now with options for family festive fun and made to feel that the only way to truly enjoy Christmas is to spend loads of money on entertainment, food and drink.
In reality, curling up in front of a Christmas movie, going for a walk to look at all the festive lights, writing your own letters from Santa, playing a fun family game, making Christmas decorations, colouring in, baking mince pies or decorating gingerbread houses are all great fun and most are completely free. For older kids and teens, games like eating chocolate with a hat, scarf and gloves or eating doughnuts off a string are always popular. This is where the internet (especially Pinterest) is really helpful as it is full of ideas for cheap or free entertainment, craft ideas, recipes and fun family games.
4. Accept that Christmas will NOT be perfect!
Nothing is perfect and the very concept of a perfect Christmas is frankly crackers! If you spend Christmas alone or if you are missing loved ones it may not be an easy time. Christmas with friends can be great fun, but still requires some tact and diplomacy with the risk of the odd falling out. And as for Christmas with family…well….let’s face it, it definitely won’t be perfect. There will be tears or tantrums from young children (and older children or adults!), people falling out or getting upset, someone will eat too much, someone will drink too much….you get the picture. Christmas with family is fabulous. We always choose to spend Christmas with family and love it. It just requires some tolerance and an acceptance that there will be points in time where things go a bit wrong and that you can just let go of these moments…they are just moments and will soon pass. You can choose not to dwell on these imperfect moments, to take a few deep breaths, maybe even take a few minutes to yourself to relax, and let the imperfect moments go.
5. Take a step back and notice the joy.
It is easy to become so absorbed in the busy-ness of Christmas that the good times and joy simply pass us by and are not noticed or remembered. So, this year, throughout the festive period, try to take a step back from time to time, pause, observe and notice the moments of connection, the moments of happiness, the moments of laughter, the moments of joy. These are the moments you want to enjoy, savour, remember and treasure.
6. Take some time for yourself.
Both in the run-up to Christmas and over the festive period, it is important to still look after your own wellbeing. It may be harder to take much time for yourself but a few minutes here or there should still be possible. Maybe you could take a short walk while everyone else is still asleep, maybe you could take just a few moments to sit quietly, close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths, maybe you could take a few minutes to enjoy a short meditation or a few gentle mindful stretches. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it, you deserve to have some time for yourself too.
If you know you tend to feel a little frazzled in January, why not set aside some time for yourself in January, either time to do nothing, or to do something you love to do. Or maybe book yourself a massage, some reflexology or reiki to help you to relax and rebalance.
7. If food or drink is a source of stress for you, have a plan.
Planning helps. If you know in advance what choices you do want to make, it is easier to avoid the choices you don’t want to make. If you know in advance what you do want to eat and drink it will be easier not to eat and drink anything you don’t want.
The other thing to do, is to really savour and enjoy the food and drink you do choose to consume. Take your time, notice it’s appearance, aroma, texture and savour the taste. Have a little then put it down or move away. Really enjoying what you eat and drink helps your mind and body to know that you have consumed it and to be content with less.
This year, my wish for you is to be able to enjoy the fun, love and laughter throughout this festive period.
This meditation will help you let go of the seasonal stress, encouraging you instead to notice, experience and savour the many moments of joy this Christmas.
To get the best out of this meditation:
- Choose a time when you can relax, undisturbed for at least 10 minutes
- Make yourself comfortable
- If possible, sit quietly for a minute or two when the meditation has ended