With the holiday season on our doorsteps I have started to think about how stressful this time of the year can be for many of us.
It doesn’t always feel like the most wonderful time of the year! What with feeling the pressure to finish off as much as possible at work, buy everyone gifts in overcrowded shops, having extra events in our schedules, organising our own celebrations for Christmas and New Years as well as many people travelling, just the extra mental load is enough to cause a little bit of anxiety to creep up.
Ways to cope with stress
What I did in previous years..
I have had a few stressful festive seasons in the past. In my previous job, things didn’t just magically stop because of the holidays so we were still checking our laptops and blackberry to ensure everything was under control. On a couple of occasions not everything was in place prior to the holidays which meant I was forced to work.
For anyone who hasn’t been in a job like that it can be difficult to understand why you can’t just ignore your phone for a couple of days, so I used to feel the need to hide the fact that I was still working by hiding away in a room or spending some extra time in the bathroom with my phone.
I really am looking forward to not doing that this year, but even with running your own business the ex-workaholic in me can be tempted to keep an eye on certain things while I am off. I am therefore going to ensure I switch off as much as possible this year and I am trying to get everything that is needed to tick over set up in advance.
Our exciting plans for the festive season and how I plan to manage stress..
This year we will be going on our first overseas trip with our little one who will be just short of 9 months when we fly. We are excited for her to spend time with and meet all our family and friends in Switzerland and the UK. I will admit though, I am a little bit nervous for the travelling especially flying with a little one and then travelling around once we are there (we are now used to going around with a car so it will be interesting using public transport etc with a baby in tow).
I used to be a frequent flyer going all over Africa and lived in Switzerland and the UK so at least we won’t be complete rookies but I have completely slowed myself down this year so it will be interesting to see how much the work I have done helps with stress levels.
The following are the tips of what I am planning to use to manage stress this festive season:
- Simplifying – the festive season has become so commercialised that I find we have lost a lot of the true spirit of it. We can often feel the need to buy everyone gifts and go overboard with the celebrations in order to keep up. This year we decided to only give token gifts and instead give everyone our undivided time. We are looking forward to bonding with our little one and creating memories through time spent with our family and friends. People, including our kids, aren’t going to always remember what you got them last Christmas, but they will remember the quality time they spent with you.
- Changing perspective – everyone’s families will have their own dynamics and this time of the year can be quite triggering for many of us putting strain on our relationships. By practicing mindfulness, you can take back control of how any situation will affect you. One of the most liberating things I have learnt this year is that you have control over how you perceive what is going on around you, we are all playing out our own version of reality in our mind. You therefore have the power to change how you perceive any person or situation. I have completely changed my perspective this year and I am planning to be mindful over this period not to allow circumstances to affect or sway me.
- Declutter – decluttering is not just about getting rid of possessions that we no longer need but also taking time to let go of anything that is no longer serving you. This time of the year is a great time to take stock of what has been happening, what is working for you and what really isn’t working anymore. We are often not completely content with where we are in life, but we don’t take the time to step back to decide what it is that makes us happy and where we want to go next. I am planning to take some time for myself this holiday to set goals and for letting go.
- Setting intentions – something great I have also started to do this year is setting intentions for myself daily which has given me a lot more focus. I have managed to get a lot more done in smaller amounts of time by doing this. It can also work for travelling, you can set an intention that you will get to your end destination without any issues and focus on that during your journey which has already been working for me when getting through the traffic some mornings.
- Gratitude – the daily grind can often make us so caught up in the craziness of life that we don’t take the time to just be grateful for what we already have. You can’t always be pushing for more and not grateful for where you currently are as this stops us from being happy right now. Being grateful for where you are right at this moment and knowing this is exactly where you need to be at this point can take the stress out of any situation. By doing this it can also open you up for more to come into your life.
- Technology Detox – we spend so much time on our phones or computers these days that it is so hard to completely unwind. Having a detox from technology, including social media, is necessary these days to give yourself the time to just be present. As I mentioned, not everyone can completely turn off from technology depending on their occupation but at least take a day or two away from social media and switch off wherever possible.
If you are expecting this festive season may be stressful, why not try some or all of these to reduce your stress levels and enjoy this time with your loved ones. This time of the year is so good for reflection and setting yourself up for the year ahead, make sure to also take some time for yourself.
I would love to hear if you also have any other useful tips for managing stress during this time and if you have thoughts on what I have shared.
Wishing you a wonderful, stress free festive season and everything of the best for the year ahead.