I’m pretty sure I speak for most of us when I say I just can’t believe how fast another year has gone by! It really is THAT time of the year already. We’re speeding towards Christmas, trying desperately to find time for all the social gatherings, catch ups, present buying, preparations, things that need to be done before we finally get to rest and relax.
Christmas is meant to be such a happy time of the year with the warm weather (here in Australia anyway), family get-togethers and time-off work… But in reality Christmas can be the busiest, most stressful time of the year with all the expectations weighing heavy on our shoulders.
I’ve sketched a few thoughts that help me get to my happy-place when things start to get too hectic. You may have heard all of it before, but perhaps a little recap won’t hurt.
1. ME TIME
“When you think you have no time for relaxation, it is when you need it the most.” (Matt Haig)
Even when, and especially when, you think you have no time for anything but rushing from one place to another, take the outrageously radical approach and schedule time for YOU! Take an hour off, take half a day off and walk in the park, lay on beach, do something that is the opposite of what you think being productive looks like. It will not make your world collapse. Instead it’ll give your brain a chance to reboot, your body to rest, your soul to reconnect. You will find that this break in your day will increase your productivity, focus and happiness more than hustling ever would.
2. LOWER THE BAR
“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” (Unknown)
Most of our stresses, in my experience, are caused by our expectations. The way we think things should be. Christmas of all times brings on the pressure of family traditions, hosting, entertaining, gift giving, making sure everyone is happy. And boy, it’s hard work.
In my family we’ve been lowering the bar (and the stress levels) by doing “a Secret Santa” for quite a few years now. This is where you draw a name out of a hat and only buy a present for this person. Everyone gets to open a present on Christmas Day but there’s no stress of you having to find the perfect gift for everyone in the family. Also, this year instead of a big Christmas lunch, we are doing a potluck-type picnic in the park (in November as some of us will be away on Christmas day). So it’s really what we make it, right?
3. GIFT TIME, NOT STUFF
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” (Maya Angelou)
Nothing makes us happier and more loved than the feeling of someone giving us their full attention. The gift of time is worth so much more than materia.
We remember moments. The special time when we connected with other people, with ourselves, with nature. Moments become the memories that we will cherish for years to come.
So instead of rushing like crazy to buy more stuff, think of ways of how to make people feel special. What about visiting someone or writing a heartfelt letter?
4. BE GRATEFUL
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough” (Melody Beatte)
I know I whine about being too busy, having too much on, not having enough time / money / holidays / etc. I think we all do. But the truth is, we are extremely lucky to be able to complain about these things! The fact that we have work to complain about, family to complain about, money to spend on “extra” things such as holidays, presents and delicacies makes us luckier than majority of the population of the world.
Instead of talking about what we’re lacking, let’s focus on the abundance that is here already. Gratitude will give you an instant mood lift and a burst of energy! Looking around you, what things can you be grateful for right now? The house you live in, the people in your life, your health, your ability to walk, dance, laugh, love… The list is endless when you really start to think about it.
Actually, if you are looking for a meaningful present for yourself or for someone else, gift them a gratitude journal! Every night before bed pause to write down 3 things you are grateful for today– try it! (But be warned: you may experience a sudden rush of euphoria and increased appreciation for the miracle that is Life!)
I HOPE YOU HAVE A LOVELY, RELAXED CHRISTMAS AND A WONDER-FULL NEW YEAR 2017!