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Quite possibly the work social function will already be organised. Invites for social functions will be turning up and children will be counting down the weeks until exams/school finishes. If you haven’t thought about any of it yet, then it’s time to start thinking about the gifts, trees to decorate and where you are going to spend Christmas Day. The food needs to be planned and if you have holidays as well, then you better start getting them organised! Accommodation, food, activities, travel plans, pet care ... and all this on top of already, often, very busy lives. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!
The theory goes that the festive season is meant to be jolly and fun, but every year I see people and their credit cards getting stretched and stressed. Advertising has sold us the "perfect" Christmas: lavish gifts, happy relationships, stunning food. However, the expectations around Christmas often don’t match the reality.
For many, Christmas and New Year have lost their fun. What has the potential to be a simple, relaxing and fun time is anything but.
Time, then, to re-evaluate. Dr Alice Boyes, has some great ideas on how to put some fun back into the holiday season. Here’s my take on them:
RE-JIG YOUR TRADITIONS
Many people have traditions associated with Christmas and New Year, and while they can be an important and comforting part of the holiday season, they can become tired or boring. Sometimes we continue things that aren’t all that fun. Maybe it’s time to make an inventory of your traditions and discard those that don’t fit who you are or your values. Perhaps you might change something you do on Christmas Day, a particular gift you give someone every year or where you spend your holiday. Clean out a tradition that has become stale to make room for a new one.
IT’S NOT JUST FOR CHILDREN
Often Christmas and holidays are geared towards children. The job of the adults is to do the organising and get stuck with the bills. If you’re in this pattern then think about what would make the holidays fun for you. This is a time for everyone to have some fun. It might be a movie you want to watch with your significant other. Maybe you’d like to create a signature Christmas cocktail! Recognise that the great part of the holidays for adults is that you can decide what you want to do with your time off.
CREATE A TRADITION THAT RECONNECTS YOU WITH YOUR INNER CHILD
Children do seem to have fun at Christmas. Think about creating a tradition that reconnects you to the fun feelings you had as a child. This could be something like making pancakes in the shape of your initials on Christmas morning, decorating gingerbread biscuits, making Christmas decorations, dressing up, or whatever reminds you of why you found Christmas fun as a child.
GIVE YOURSELF A GIFT THAT WILL REDUCE YOUR FUTURE STRESS
Think about what gifts would reduce your future stress. It could be things like: buying and installing a backup solution for your computermake an extra contribution to your Kiwisaver or savings accountfix something around your home that is broken and driving you nuts
The above might sound boring, but if you focus on something that reduces stress on an ongoing basis, it might start to seem more exciting.
PLAN YOUR ACTIVITIES AND GIVE YOURSELF TIME
Realistically plan what you need to do each day, especially in the lead-up to Christmas Day. This will help to avoid the panic-inducing "Uh oh ... I forgot the ..." scenario. We tend to underestimate how long things take, so allow yourself 15%-20% more time than you think you will need for a task. This will allow you to be more relaxed and have more fun with whatever it is you’re doing. If you find you have spare time, do something else or sit down and relax rather than rushing about.
DISMISS THE PERFECTION MONSTER, IT’LL SABOTAGE YOUR FUN
People who put a lot of effort into Christmas often want it to go perfectly. When it doesn’t, feelings of disappointment, frustration and anger can surface. Travel delays, grumpy relatives, failed baking, or a gift not being well received are all things beyond your control. There are always things in life that don’t go perfectly and the same is true for Christmas. Take control of what you can and understand not everyone might be as passionate about the celebrations as you are.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Sometimes, the simplest things are the most memorable. Long after the toys have broken and been consigned to the pile in the corner, it’s the conversations, the laughs, and the experiences shared that remain with us. Develop traditions that fit you and your values and remember to have some fun.
Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.
For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.