My three top tips for Christmas joy
Dreading the Christmas stressing and wish it would turn out more of a blessing instead? Read on for three top tips to access your Christmas joy this year ...
Last year was a strange Christmas for my family:
There we were, three generations all congregated at our mum's home for our yearly Christmas celebrations of several days. Then one by one, we all dropped like flies with a horrendous flu. We felt so ill that all we wanted to do was stay in bed and rest. There was no way that any of us could muster the energy to prepare more than the bare essentials of food and drink and we didn't have the appetite to eat much anyway!
You might say "What a terrible Christmas!", and in some ways it was. But in other ways, it was also enormously freeing.
Weakened by the flu, ill and in pain, we felt we were allowed to drop all pretenses, and all running-like-crazy to create the perfect family celebration. The bare minimum, just to keep us going, suddenly was absolutely good enough. We took it in turns - depending on who felt well enough - to prepare our light meals and saying "I'm sorry I really need to go and lie down now" became ok to say (and do!) for everyone.
We accepted the situation as it was, made the best of it and didn't push ourselves beyond what was possible: In that sense, the flu completely took away the 'Perfect Christmas' stress for us!
So, whilst I DON'T mean at all to recommend a flu-ridden Christmas as a stress-relieving measure, I CAN say that I learnt a thing or three from the experience that can be applied to Christmas without the flu, too ...
Therefore, here come my three top tips for Christmas joy:
1. Let go of high expectations
What would you do if Christmas didn't need to be perfect, but just good enough? What if there was nothing to prove to anyone? Noticing and dropping any (too) high expectations for a perfect Christmas will help you focus more on your loved-ones, and on the spirit of the celebrations.
Does the preparation and cooking feel overwhelming? Ask for help of family and friends. Book a caterer. Or break with the tradition of Christmas at your home, and allow yourself to be invited to someone else's.
Stressed out by all the presents you need to get? Agree on a "Strictly-One-Present-Per-Person" Christmas - or even try a 'No-Presents' one!
You get the gist. Find your own ways of simplifying your celebrations and see what happens!
2. Relax, spend slow time, celebrate, enjoy
What if you were easily able to consciously disconnect and come down from the busyness of it all?
Look for your moments of slow time, of sleeping in, of breathing out, of just being, of savouring your special meals and treats, of lazy conversations over a glass of wine (or over a relaxed joint washing-up!), of singing and celebrating together, of winter-wonderland walks, of feeling grateful for friends and loved-ones, for gifts and togetherness (or aloneness!) ...
Set yourself a time to stop and stick to it. Allow yourself a few minutes of deep breathing on your own - perhaps even lie down for it. Look for opportunities to sit down with others, with the only purpose of being with them.
Whichever way you do it: Slowing down reconnects us to our hearts and souls, and to the joy of being and celebrating - with ourselves, and with other people. Enjoy!
3. When it gets too much: Take mini-retreats!
Christmas sometimes means too many people stuck together in too small a space for too long a time without anything structured to do! Sometimes, there's just no other way than having it that way... No wonder it can get a bit too much, despite our best efforts to keep things simple and to relax!
If that's likely to be the case for you and you know you might well get to a point where you just can't bear it any longer, consider taking little time-outs.
Take your dessert or glass of wine, wrap up warm, and quietly sneak out to have it on your own - on the balcony, or on the garden patio. Gently announce you will go for a walk, and then do it. Offer to do the dishes - on your own - for the host or hostess. Tune out of the conversations for a little while, or just listen and don't speak, and concentrate on breathing deeply. Even extending your visit to the bathroom a little longer than necessary, to just sit quietly for a bit, can help you get a bit of respite ...
Have a little think: What might work for you? :-)
Have a truly joyful Christmas!
If you have your own top tips for making it so, I'd love it if you wanted to share those here - thank you!
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About Monica Castenetto
Monica Castenetto is a Life Coach, workshop leader, speaker and writer on all aspects of Living a Life You Love. An Italian grown up in Switzerland, she has lived in London for the past 16 years.