Surviving - and Thriving - Over The Holidays
Quite often when we think about Christmas it can feel overwhelming and stressful; inviting the extended family round, making sure no-one feels left out, negotiating with the in-laws and worrying over children’s Christmas lists. There can be a lot of guilt issues surrounding this time of year, trying to please everyone, making the festivities “perfect” and providing the ultimate gifts. We stress over money, can get into debt and sometimes enter the New Year feeling somewhat deflated.
Christmas on a budget can feel depressing, but with a little imagination it can be fun and creative. Teaching our children that it is much more about love and family than presents and glitter is such an important lesson. There are some great ways to help save money over the festive period, without it feeling like you are a relative of Ebenezer Scrooge. Deciding as a family to spend only a certain amount of money per person, or purchase from charity shops, means really taking the time to think about what you are buying and makes the present much more meaningful. And lots of fun can be had by making presents and cards for each other! Children are naturally creative and enjoy the excitement of giving something they have thoughtfully made for their family, and it is something that even the older members of the family can enjoy and get excited about. In todays commercialised “have it all now” world, it is a valuable life lesson to step back and take a breath and re-align your values.
It can also feel pressurising from friends and family to conform to stereotypical ways of “celebrating”. If you have decided that you are not eating certain foods, or avoiding alcohol, for example, it can be difficult to stick to your guns when “only one mince pie won’t hurt” is uttered by those not wanting you to “miss out”.
However, it doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful with a little planning and forethought. Making sure that you have a plan of action will help keep you on the right path. Your reasons should be clear, both for yourself and for others. Defining WHY you are doing something, and HOW it will make you feel when you achieve it, is helpful for those around you to understand your mindset, affording them a better position from which to encourage you towards achieving success.
Knowing the HOW and WHY is just as important for you too, because if you aren’t clear about these then it is unlikely that you will achieve the end result – especially when feeling under pressure in a social situation. Giving a specific outline to friends and family, explaining the ways in which they can help support you, and detailing what you need from them, means that you can manage everyone’s expectations. Talking about your plans makes you accountable not only to yourself, but to others, which helps to make goals very real.
And it is also important to know when you can, and want, to be flexible, and what that looks like. For example, saying “I am going to have a slice of Christmas cake on Christmas day and I am going to enjoy it, not feel guilty about it, but it will only be ONE piece” is being very clear about your intentions. Asking those around you to remind you of this intention when you are tempted to reach for another slice is a great way to be held to account, and also helps prevent any possible encouragement from them to engage in the behaviour you are trying to avoid.
Being specific about goals makes it much easier to reach them, and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable chunks alleviates a lot of the stress that can be associated with longer-term goals that can otherwise feel unattainable.
We have put together the 7 Days of Christmas to use during the lead up to the big day to get you thinking about thriving not only at this time of year, but starting a new year with the same, positive intentions.
How are YOU planning to thrive over the holidays?