The 'C' Word!

Dare I even say the word ... yes, Christmas is calling. For many it is the happiest time of the year, with the hustle and bustle of a busy social schedule making them feel more energized than ever! But for others, the sheer thought of the month of December causes anxiety! So ... today I thought I would share a few ways you can help manage the Christmas chaos if you are normally one to feel stressed and exhausted by all that it brings.

Even mentioning the word Christmas can cause a negative response from people ... but why? Why is it that what is meant to be the happiest and most joyful time of year can lead to exhaustion and leave us feeling flat and tired! Is it because we try to do too much, spend too much and be too much? Probably.

So ... with the silly season ahead and with no where to hide, how can we make this time of year more relaxing, and enjoyable, rather than exhausting and stressful? The answer is simple, we need to change our approach. Here's a few ways you can take the stress out of Christmas this year:

1. Review your Gift List ~ This one is highly important! If you have a long list of people that you buy for every year ... consider reviewing this list and making some changes. Christmas time shouldn't put you into financial hardship, nor should it cause unbearable stress. Creating a Gift List for people that are closest to you, that you can shop for mindfully and intentionally, is the best approach to buying gifts. It will not only lighten the load, but it will also ensure that you are keeping within budgets and not going into debt.

Let's remember that there are no rules, unless you make them. Just because you have always bought for someone doesn't mean you have to always buy for them. As years go by, things change, priories change and families change. Editing this list, will mean you are not just continually adding names .. but also removing some too. A simple conversation with a friend or family member will save any awkward gift exchange moments! For example, if you and your friend have always bought for each others' children, perhaps make the suggestion that instead of gifts at Christmas time, you will have a day out together in the school holidays. Or that you will just buy birthday gifts during the year, but not Christmas gifts. Keep in mind, that everyone is in a similar situation ... they will probably be relived that you have mentioned the change and be happy to support it!

2. Shop Early ~ A lot of the stress of buying gifts is the craziness of the shops and car parks during the lead up to Christmas. So avoid all that unnecessary pressure, by simply starting your Christmas shopping early! I know I'm going to be going against the grain here when I say ... avoid putting on huge lay-buy!! The reason I say this is because people tend to overspend and over consume when lay-buying ... not to mention forgetting what they actually bought and accidentally buying way too much! My suggestion is to instead focus on one gift a week; purchase, wrap, tuck it away and tick it right off the list! Then you are free to move onto the next person on the list, and really shop with intention. Lay-buy's are great for those more expensive items, but just make sure you have a list of what you need when you go shopping and stick to it!

3. Ditch the Standards ~ If it's your turn to host Christmas Lunch or other celebratory get together, be sure to do things your way. Just because your mother, or brother or cousin does 5 meats, 8 sides and a home cooked pudding, doesn't mean you have to! You have to be realistic in not only your own cooking and entertaining skills, but also your time, kitchen / oven space and your own family situation. Plan a meal that you can execute without too much stress or anxiety, and don't forget to share the load by asking for help! When planning the meal, think about what other people can bring along to contribute. No one likes to arrive empty handed so be sure to take people up on the offer to bring something along!

4. Say NO ~ Yep, this is a tricky and controversial one! But, when December hits, it's a storm of Office parties, School Graduations, Community Fundraisers, Dinner with Friends, Dance Concerts and the Kinder Christmas Party! Usually all on the one weekend ... haha. But seriously ... the calendar starts screaming things at you, and instead of enjoying each of these individually lovely things, they all become just something you have to 'get through'. So, what is the solution to an overflowing schedule ... the power of NO. It's the hardest word to say ... (unless someone asks for my last bit of chocolate) ... !! Saying no to people when you are a serial people-pleaser can be so hard. Not to mention 'FOMO' - the 'Fear of Missing out'!  But sometimes you have to say No to be able to say Yes to something else. Like being fully present at your daughters Ballet Concert instead of running through the groceries list in your head for the salad you have to make for tomorrows dinner party, after the lunchtime end of year break at work. There will be things that you absolutely need to go to, like the Ballet Concert, and there will be things that can wait, or be rescheduled until a quieter time of year. Being open and honest with your family and friends about not over scheduling this time of year is so important. If you explain why you are saying no, they will surely understand and be supportive of that decision.

5. Challenge Tradition ~ There are many Traditions that come along with Christmas, many that make a lot of sense and some that make none. It's up to you and your family to decide what ones to embrace and which ones to let slide. And much like the gift list ... just because you have always done something, doesn't mean you have to do it again this year! Things like Stockings and Advent Calendars for the kids are lovely, but they can also add to a long list of things to organize and buy. Think about alternating years ... perhaps one year you do the Advent Calendar and the next you do the Stockings. Or maybe you decide not to do either, but to instead put that effort and money into a more special present under the Christmas tree. Whatever traditions you decide to do this year, be sure to do each with intention and purpose ... and it will make for a beautiful and memorable Christmas.

Thanks for reading,

Bianca x

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