This time of year is one of contradictions in many ways it’s a time full of chances for family time and making memories but it’s also one of hectic schedules, consumerism and high levels of stress!
In general December and Christmas is my favourite time of year, it’s my time to show my loved ones how much I care and make PERFECT special moments for them. They would much prefer that I take it easy and forget about the perfect!
As a teacher it was also my favourite time of year…the time we could ease off the pressure a little, spend afternoon’s crafting, listen to Christmas music and let the kids be kids. However it’s also the time of stressful nativity practice and worrying about children who no long find Christmas a joy but a time of anxiety as parents become overwhelmed with the demand for the PERFECT Christmas and getting all the toys on the list.
Christmas should be a time of joy and it’s so easy to loose this, so how can we change it? On my Instagram page over the next few weeks I’m going to post regular tips in managing Christmas stress and mindfulness. In the meantime here are some things to consider over the next few weeks:
- Boundaries are important both at home and at work. At home you don’t need to attend every social obligation or event; you don’t need to buy every present on the list. If something isn’t making you feel nourished and bringing value to your life then don’t do it! If you are tired and would rather spend the evening playing board games with some mulled wine then do that! At work does it really matter if you have a perfect nativity play as long as the children and parents enjoy it? Do you need to stay to 6pm every night to mark?
- Focus on experiences over gifts. There is a post doing the rounds on social media that says if the minimum wage is £8.91 and a person works 30 hours a week they’ll earn £267.30 a week. If they buy a gift for £26 that is 10% of their weekly wage spent on the recipient. Those numbers mean a lot. What if instead of causing ourselves financial stress we focused on experiences: meeting with friends for a cup of hot chocolate and a walk round the town Christmas lights. Taking the kids to a pantomime or buying vouchers for an activity centre while buying colouring books and crafts things from the pound shop or supermarket. Visiting Church carol services is another cheap way to enjoy Christmas.
- Loose stressful traditions. “Well you always come to our house on Christmas Eve”, “We’re going to the panto IT’S TRADITION” do any of these sound familiar? We can often feel under pressure to do things at this time of year because it’s expected by ourselves, by family, by society…but what if we don’t want to go to Aunt Sally’s on Christmas Eve this year because the kids want to see their friends and we want to curl up with a large glass of wine, home alone and some last-minute wrapping? What if the teen/tween-agers don’t want to go to the panto this year? It’s ok to drop stressful traditions if they’re not working for you or your family.
- Remember to have fun! This is supposed to be such a magical time of the year so enjoy it mindfully. Whether it’s putting up the decorations, making mince pies with the family or late-night Christmas shopping under the lights. Stop and take time to be present in that moment. Enjoy looking up at the lights, recognize the sights, smells and sensations, be mindful of every moment.