‘I am totally overwhelmed, I don’t know whether I am coming or going’ Karen confided to me. Her business had taken off in the run up to Christmas yet, at the same time as meeting these demands, she was organising and attending Christmas social events; factoring in her children’s extra Christmas activities; planning for her family’s festivities; sourcing and buying presents AND running her household. A furious, frenetic juggling act.
Phew! Sound familiar? If you are like most working mums I know (me included!) at this time of year it’s not uncommon to get so caught up with all the ‘Doing’ that we end up, come January, feeling exhausted, spent, and, at times questioning the meaning behind all of this activity.
Holiday stress is now a recognised part of modern day life. So how can we minimise our stressors over the festive season and gain some much needed control back over this situation?
The following ideas may help:
1. Reassess your expectations.
Create a list of everything you do for the holidays and notice which activities make you queasy even thinking about them. In each case, ask, “Who am I doing this for?” It could be your husband? Your children? Your mother? If you’re going through the motions only to meet your own expectations, perhaps you could cross off that activity this year. If you’re doing it for others, suggest something different. Instead of cooking up a huge family Christmas dinner, for example, propose making reservations at a local restaurant or spread the load and have everyone help make the meal.
2. Leave perfectionism behind.
Are you trying to be all things to all people, the perfect mother, wife and friend and to tick every box in the limited time available? Are you comparing your baking and tree-decorating efforts with those of someone who doesn’t have a full-time job—or with the way your stay-at-home mother handled the festivities? Are you envisioning your Christmas party right out of a film? Often we put so much of this pressure on ourselves; we need to recognise when this is the case and replace the word ‘perfect’ with ‘good enough’.
3. Put yourself on the receiving end.
Come up with gifts that will benefit you as well as the other person. Instead of getting your friend a £50 jumper, use the money to take both of you for a manicure/pedicure. Buy two tickets to a play or concert. Or make vouchers for friends and family entitling them to a film, dinner or other treat with you whenever they fancy. Make memories instead of giving just another unwanted gift.
This really helps cut down on those holiday arguments! The more you take five minutes to breathe and bring your awareness to each moment, the less you get caught up in the mind and all the things that make the holidays stressful. There will be long queues, bad traffic, full car parks, but that’s all part of the territory at this time of year. Practice taking slow deep breaths when you feel yourself getting anxious and gently observe all the sights, sounds and smells around you and you’ll quickly notice your attitude change. Apps such as Headspace can really help make mindfulness a daily healthy habit.
5. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude
When you take some time to scan towards the positive, thinking about what you are grateful for in life, it takes you away from negative thought patterns. If the holiday stress is getting too much, think about something that has made you smile that day, or something that made you feel good, even if it was just a little thing. Taking this one step further; make a habit of writing down three things that you are grateful for every day during the holidays. This starts a ‘virtuous’ circle in your mind and puts things in perspective and helps to build and maintain a positive mindset.
Over to You
What works for you in managing the stress of the Christmas build up and beyond? What other ideas do you have? I’d love to hear from you.
Give Yourself the Gift of Self Confidence This Christmas!
If you have lost sight of yourself, your sense of purpose and direction, in all your frenzied activity why not consider having some coaching sessions to reconnect to who you are and how you make a difference. Contact me here to arrange a free, no obligation consultation to explore how coaching can best help you.