The joy of giving... the cost of living and other stressors

Let the festivities begin! For many, this is a hectic time of year. You may be run off your feet as you respond to conflicting demands from work, friends, and family. If you’re self-employed or manage a business, you’ll want to think about how the past year has gone and what you hope for in 2023. You make lists as long as your arm to complete your work admin and home chores before the year's end, in the hope that you can start the new year with a clean slate.


However, for some, this is a particularly difficult season. For example, if money is tight or if you don’t have family and friends to spend time with or have recently lost someone close to you.

Work targets, shopping, cards (real and virtual), present buying and wrapping, office parties, and family obligations. How will you get it all done? Decisions – whom to see and not to see, how to decide and how to explain to those you can’t be with this year. There may be many expectations of you, so think about how you handle them as well as how to please yourself.

So, what can you do to tackle successfully the work and social demands, feel less pressured and have some time for yourself? Here are some suggestions for how to manage assertively.

1. Think ahead

Avoid procrastination; fence-sitting is a stressful experience for everyone involved. Accept or turn down invitations asap, aiming to respond to requests and make decisions ideally within 24 hours. It’s as if you’re giving your decision a shelf life.

If you’re uncertain how to reply to an invitation, you might say: "Thank you for inviting me. I will check and let you know by tomorrow morning." Be sure to let them know by the following morning. Planning and good decision-making will help you feel more in control of your time and life (and let others know where they stand) and reduce the element of frazzle for all.

2. Have the courage to say “No”

Advance planning will help you decide to accept or turn down invitations asap, so that you and others know where they stand, rather than waiting until the last minute. You may feel obliged to accept some invitations or work events, even if you’d rather not, whilst others you’ll be delighted to receive.

Be kind and polite when you do say no. Thank the person, and explain honestly, if you choose to, the demands of the moment and that you’d very much like to see them another time. 

3. Shopping online - saves time

It's far quicker to shop online provided you do it early enough for gifts and food to arrive. However, there will be times you prefer to shop for real and enjoy the buzz. 

If you’re happy to forego the surprise element, you could suggest everyone makes a wish list, including you, and send each other a link to purchases. This way everyone gets something they want without having to spend hours searching for what to buy.

4. Curtailing costs

If there’s a need to balance giving with the cost of living, there are different ways to approach it. You could agree with others that gifts won’t be as extravagant as usual, or tell them in advance you must pull your budgetary belt in this year. Maybe agree a maximum value per person? If you’re struggling financially more than the people you exchange presents with, try not to feel obligated to match others’ gifts and let it be known that you want others to feel comfortable about their expenditure.

I’ve noticed that some people are going back to paying in cash as a means of controlling their spending, taking with them a limited sum to spend in the shops.

5. Sharing platters

If you’re usually the cook, is it time to share the shopping, the preparation, the clearing away, or all three? Perhaps you want to suggest a BYO (bring your own) festive buffet, which doesn’t mean you eat only what you bring, but rather contribute to the table for everyone to share. Agree who will bring what so you don’t have six bowls of brussels sprouts! It shares the time, cost, and responsibility for enjoying the day leaving you with some spare energy.

6. Thinking about the holiday when you’re on your own

Since there is so much emphasis on family and get-togethers at this time of year, it can feel particularly difficult if you’re on your own. Perhaps you’ve lost someone close to you, or friends and family have moved away. It can be helpful to plan these times instead of simply letting them happen!

If you plan to stay at home, make a schedule filled with things you enjoy, whether music, walking, TV programmes or a film you’ve been meaning to watch on one of the many drama channels. Or travel from the comfort of your own home, with Heygo, a site where you can go on tours with expert guides in real-time.

Are there people you’d like to speak to? Pre-arrange a phone call or a Zoom chat. Perhaps you can even have a meal together over Zoom! Prepare a meal for the season or other favourite foods.

If you want to get out and about with other people, you can take a trip away with a solo company like Just You or do something more energetic, such as Solo Walking Holidays. Or if you want to help others and spread kindness, contact an organisation like Crisis at Christmas.

6. You-time

It can be helpful to plan two types of time for yourself. The first is to take some time for yourself this side of the New Year, simply to be, to relax, or do something you enjoy, for a morning, afternoon, or evening. Make the appointment with yourself in your calendar.

The second is to take a couple of hours to think about and tie up loose ends. This clears the clutter from your mind and frees up thinking space to bring in new ideas for the year ahead.

Looking ahead

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah or another festival or simply enjoy having a break, you may find these tips useful for now and adaptable for the future. With all good wishes for 2023.

If some of this resonates with you and you’d like to become more proactive and more assertive in the New Year, get in touch to arrange a 20-minute introductory conversation for only £15.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, NW11
Written by Lucy Seifert, Life Coach London
London, NW11

Our personal challenges can affect us at home, work and in our relationships. My 25 years of coaching and training experience help you build confidence and design strategies to make positive changes. You’ll find that I have a warm coaching style, with integrity and professionalism. Also, I’ve authored five books about coaching and assertiveness.

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