During this busy time of year, many of us forget the importance of maintaining our health and well-being. At a time when it’s essential to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, it’s often one of the first things to go when the going gets tough. We start feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and guilty. Unrealistic expectations of having everything ‘done’ before Christmas lead to increased pressure on individuals and families. While our stress levels increase, our tolerance levels decrease. Instead of being filled with Christmas cheer and goodwill to all, for many this is an increasingly tiring time of year.With this in mind, here are some ways to relieve stress and pressure, get organised and take care of ourselves in the weeks leading up to Christmas:
It’s important to fit your own ‘oxygen mask’ first. Make self-care one of your top priorities this Christmas. When you look after yourself, especially at this busy time of year, it’s easier to manage everything else. It’s when we stop taking care of ourselves that things often fall over or break down. Schedule ‘me’ time in your diary, along with other priorities and commitments.
We all have the same amount of time available to us each day. How we use our time makes the difference. If you have an overwhelming list of things ‘To Do’ before Christmas, break your list down into manageable pieces. Each day ask yourself, “What am I going to focus on today?” This assists with planning, prioritising and ensuring things get completed in a timely manner.
Plan, prepare and write down everything in advance
Schedule blocks of time for pre-Christmas activities and appointments in your diary or personal organiser, which assists in managing your time effectively. Use time and money-saving strategies that work for you leading up to Christmas e.g. bulk, online or late night shopping or pre-Christmas sales.
Prioritising and planning without guilt are keys to overcoming stress, anxiety and pressure. Prioritise daily, focusing on and completing one thing at a time. Identify your priorities by asking: “What is the single most important thing I need or want to do today?” This alleviates feeling overwhelmed, out of control and under pressure to get everything ‘done’ by Christmas.
Establishing strong, healthy boundaries around work and family life helps manage any additional, unexpected or unreasonable demands on your time that often occur at this time of year. If necessary, learn to say “No” without guilt or explanation. Eliminate all thoughts of “I should…” or “I have to…”. Focus on what’s really important. If something doesn’t benefit you, or your family, it’s not a priority.
Don’t try to do or have it all this Christmas. This will only result in guilt, stress and burnout. Keep things in perspective. Aim to keep things simple, achievable and realistic. Know it’s OK to ask for assistance or delegate to others where necessary.
As the pressure builds leading up to Christmas, it’s important to focus on and acknowledge the little wins each day, rather than beating yourself up over what doesn’t get done.
Plan and do your shopping in advance. Use a shopping list, telephone or go online beforehand and take advantage of online shopping and extended trading hours. Establish a budget and keep to it. Arrange to swap babysitting with another family so you can shop at night.
This Christmas concentrate on maintaining your health and well-being, and smiling, relaxing, and enjoying the true spirit of the festive season with your family, friends and loved ones. Focus on that and chances are you’ll have a very merry Christmas.