I love this time of year in Aus. the warmer weather, beach, friends, colleagues and family coming together, but… in reality the lead up to the big day or holidays is outright tiring and stressFULL.
It doesn’t need to be, we have a choice. I hope these 3 tips help ease the busyness and stress for a more relaxed, joyful and a touch more magical festive season.
One: Lower expectations
As much as you want to… It is physically impossible to do all you normally do in a day and week as well as prepare for a lovely, organised, calm and healthy Christmas.
Something gives. Usually our sense of humour and joy.
THE key for a relaxed Christmas is to reduce your expectations of yourself.
Especially as women, we are really good at taking it all on, but then place unnecessary pressure on ourselves (and our families) to achieve it all.
Being AWARE we have another choice, that it can be done differently or in a better way, is the first step. Awareness. Question the choices we’re making.
Decide on the basic tasks you absolutely need to complete for each day and perhaps one more bonus item.
For eg. Your list could look like this:
• Complete a load of washing
• Have healthy meals organised for you and your family
• Make sure everyone has made their beds and put dirty clothes in the laundry basket
• Any special requirements for school and/ or work are ready eg, permission slips signed, fundraiser dish prepared etc
Keep it simple. You’ll probably achieve more, fantastic or maybe you won’t, fantastic. But lower your expectations in the first place. It will work magic. Eradicate thoughts of ‘it’s giving in’ or ‘you’re a failure’. It’s keeping it real, keeping stress low, your precious energy high, your immunity strong, your hormones humming along happily and so much more.
Then the most important step, congratulate yourself for achieving these important tasks! And…if you can squeeze in one more task such as ordering some Christmas Gifts online or ordering your Christmas ham, writing 5 Christmas cards, shopping for two gifts etc – you are well on your way to achieving all you need to before Christmas but without the stress.
When we decrease the expectations we have of ourselves it actually frees us to achieve many other tasks, just by lightening the load on our minds, removing our often self imposed pressures (overwhelm) and allowing for a much more festive season.
It’s also wonderful to realise that the world (miraculously) keeps spinning even when we aren’t Superwomen!
Just the basics and one more thing, that’s all we need to do.
Two: Simplify and delegate.
This ties in with number 1 and deserves special mention. How often have you said to yourself, ‘I ate waayyy too much! We all know how easy it is to over indulge at Christmas and it can be quite stressful in the lead up, shopping, preparing and all that cooking! Cooking for family and friends is one of the most rewarding, festive and loving things I think we can do but not if it creates stress, or we feel terrible after over indulging or leaving all that delicious food – uneaten, wasted.
As you’re preparing your menu, question how much food you need and if it’s reeaally necessary? Cooking and preparing meals for family is an incredibly rewarding and loving act. However there can be a tendency to prepare way too much and then over indulge in way too much food and regret it later.
Take the stress away by keeping food simple or even sharing the preparation and planning amongst other family members. Most of the time there is no need for lots of food or to do it all yourself.
Stock up the pantry with loads of good things so you’ve always got something good on hand.
Batch cook a few favourite, healthy snacks and meals and pop them in the pantry, fridge or freezer for another time so you always have good food to go. Choose the quick and easy recipes that only take a few minutes and save loads of time later. Like this persian love bar or this chocolate slice. These egg pies or these delicious savoury breakfast muffins. So easy, so good.
… and of course, get family members to take care of some aspects – they actually want to be involved.
Three: Breathe, the ultimate gift.
A simple deep breathe has the power to reset our minds and bodies for an instant holiday. A conscious deep breathe stimulates our rest and digest response (the parasympathetic nervous system), brings us back into the present moment and de-clutters our busy minds.
When we are busy, rushing from one thing to the next we instinctively breathe from our chest, this action automatically stimulates the stress response or the fight and flight response. Ancestrally this was our bodies clever way of preserving basic functions, however the stress response also depletes our energy, hampers digestion and oxygenation, disrupts sleep and so much more.
If we don’t take a moment here and there to de-stress we quickly arrive at Christmas tired, exhausted and irritable. We have a choice.
Try this super simple 30 second exercise – now.
1. Breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, mouth closed, and all the way into your diaphragm on a count of 4.
2. Fill up your diaphragm completely with air until you can’t take anymore in.
3. Relax your body and hold for 7 seconds.
4. Let it all out, through your mouth for a count of 8 seconds.
Repeat the above 2 or 3 times. How do you feel?
It can be easily done anywhere and anytime and give an instant reset.
‘When we breathe we feel. When we feel we heal’.
Christmas is such a special time for bringing family and friends together. It can also bring emotions bubbling to the surface. I hope you can celebrate the incredible gift that this time of year brings, that you can savour the heart warming magic of giving, receiving and connecting rather than falling into a mind trap of emotional depletion and physical heaviness and a smorgasboard of way too much food. And that you’ll need a health coach to help get you back on track with ; ) What choice will you make?
Now I’d love to hear from you and any other tips that work for you?
A big thank you to my co author Kylie McKinnon-Smith, Mother, Administration Consultant.