The sense of nostalgia does something peculiar with our brains around Christmas. Usually we are a far cry from achieving any semblance of a calm Christmas. There is a notion that we must create the most perfect experience for everyone all around us, no matter the cost. The financial cost is the obvious one, where many of us stretch ourselves up to, and beyond, our limits. But the toll on our health and wellbeing, thanks to not being able to say “no” to anyone or anything, can leave us burnt out come the jolly holidays.
How can we avoid this and still enjoy the festive season? Especially when we’ve just experienced an extremely busy year on the back of the tumultuous time of the peak of the pandemic. Well there are a few ways we can have ourselves a calm Christmas full of joy….
1. SOCIAL BOUNDARIES
FOMO (Fear of missing out) is such a real thing. It doesn’t always serve us well to do everything and be everywhere that’s asked of us. It’s not selfish to approach social engagements on your terms. You might even get a better sense of calm and balance by making sure your choices are in line with how you feel at that given time.
Connecting with friends and family is an essential part of our wellbeing. However, the intense nature of festive gatherings can be a bit too much for some people. Whether we drink/don’t drink, stay late/leave early, pop-in for a bit/don’t go at all – do what works for you. Acknowledge the bigger impact of your actions and decide what is the best choice for you. And you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone else either.
While it’s so important to observe your own boundaries, we should also respect when others adhere to their boundaries. We shouldn’t take their actions personally, but acknowledge that they are simply looking after their own wellbeing in the best way that works for them.
2. FINANCIAL BOUNDARIES
This is a tricky one. We want to indulge our loved ones, but setting reasonable budgets for ourselves is so important. We are all familiar with stories of kids playing with the box that the toy came in more than playing with the toy itself. While this isn’t always the case, sometimes we need to manage ours, and others expectations but still have fun while we do that. There are also so many ‘experience’ gifts we can give that are either free, or low-cost that can create the best and most lasting memories for children. They are usually more sustainable too.
Being present for yourself and your loved ones can be challenging when you’re stressed or anxious. In reality though, that’s what our loved ones are looking for, much more than the glittery, expensive gift that has made you stressed. The knock-on effect of stress is that you are not living in the moment nor experiencing the joy that you could.
Savouring the moment, and doing simple things in a mindful way helps to reduce stress and keep you in the moment. Creating a ritual of having a calm cup of tea (or equivalent) and relaxing while enjoying it is within reach for many of us. It can take just a few minutes but has a big impact on our wellbeing.
Journaling is a really effective way to check in with yourself and stay grounded, present and self-aware. It also helps you stay in tune with yourself and allows you to spot what might be causing stress, or derailing your usually healthy habits. It can help you to tweak your behaviour to better serve yourself too.
Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga and walking in nature are other ways great to relax and take care of your body and mind, particularly in busy and stressful times. These could be done with some of your loved ones instead of a larger social outing that might feel stressful.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Whatever your approach to the holiday season, you should be enjoying it and not simply facilitating others to have a fabulous time. Be kind to yourself. Take a little time to ask yourself where you could increase your joy so that you enjoy the festive cheer to your max, and very importantly, enjoy it with authenticity.