Are you feeling overwhelmed right now?
Are you rushing around from one appointment to the next trying to squeeze in one or two more activities in between?
Are you dreading the arrival of relatives who constantly bicker and you cannot please them no matter what you do?
Are you stressed about not wanting to disappoint your loved ones with the gifts?
PRESSURE, PRESSURE, PRESSURE...
On television and social media, we are being sold the “white Christmas”, happy families, big piles of presents and scrumptious food. We aspire to create this ideal Christmas for ourselves. We want to please and create happiness and abundance. The lead-up to Christmas can be fun and exciting, but also stressful and overwhelming.
You are telling yourself - there’s not enough time to do everything
Time expands and contracts. If you only have half an hour to shower, get dressed and have breakfast in the morning, you will do all these things and be out the door to get to work. At the weekend, when you are not constrained by time, you are likely to take longer - you may have a more leisurely shower, take your time to get dressed and have a more elaborate breakfast. Inevitably, more than half an hour will pass before you are ready for the day!
If there is something you are not keen on or struggling to find time to do, schedule it in your diary and don’t think about it until the appointed time comes and then do it. Allocate a specific amount of time, e.g. 1 hour to complete the task. Set the timer and do it. When the time is up and you haven’t finished, stop what you are doing (if you can and it makes sense) and schedule another time slot to complete the task.
This is how I wrote this blog - I put it in my diary and allocated an hour to do it. I know from past experience that if I just tell myself that I need to write a blog, a speech or a post, but don’t put it within a specific time frame, it always takes me longer. Having a limited time to do something helps me focus and get it done quickly.
You are telling yourself - I don’t want to disappoint
Many of us feel that there is an expectation on us to perform in a certain way to meet the expectations of our family and friends. We may experience feelings of inadequacy and wanting to please and overcompensate for them by trying harder, spending more money on presents, and putting more effort into creating the “perfect” Christmas we think others expect from us.
Relax - your friends and family will love you just the same, no matter how hard you try to please them. You don’t need to impress anyone to make them love you more. No presents will ever buy you true love and affection. You are the one who creates the pressure, not other people. There are multiple ways you can show that you care, the expensive gifts are not necessarily one of them.
You are telling yourself - I want this Christmas to be perfect
Of course, we all want Christmas to be special, just like the TV ads and Christmas songs. We want everything to go well, to be perfect. And we fear that it won’t be.
Take a deep breath. And now ask yourself: what’s the worst that can happen? And if that thing that you fear happens, can you handle it?
We worry not about things that may happen but about our ability to handle them. And yet we successfully manage challenges every day. No matter what happens at Christmas, you will be OK. If you doubt it, take a break and think of three big challenges you have successfully navigated in the past. When you worry about something, draw on your strength and your ability to manage difficulties. You can handle anything that comes your way - you have dealt with bigger disasters in the past!
And what about the bickering relatives, burnt turkey, kids fighting over presents and so on? Take a deep breath again. What others feel and how they behave is not a reflection on you! You cannot change how others behave (even if you’d love to!), but you can change your approach. You can get frustrated or let it all wash over you. The choice is yours.
Things we cannot predict happen, but we can always find a solution if we look for it (there is probably a chicken somewhere in your freezer to replace the burnt turkey!).
The final ingredient…
Focus on the things you love, that give you pleasure and the fuzzy warm feeling in your heart. Make sure you put yourself in the centre of Christmas with everyone else!
Have a lovely Christmas and may all your dreams come true in the New Year!