I find myself telling myself that I don’t like Christmas. Even though it feels like a true statement, it is not. The real truth is that I like the holiday, but I have grown to dislike due to a few stressful experiences.
Last few years I have experimented with different types of Christmas. I have tried completely avoiding Christmas, I have celebrated it with strangers, I have celebrated with friends, and I celebrated with other fellow minimalists. From this experimenting I have come to know that a stress-free Christmas is indeed possible, you just need to be mindful about it. Here is how you can an anxiety free Christmas.
What are your expectations about this holiday? Are you expecting a harmonious family dinner when it is the opposite year after year? If so, you need to recheck your expectations.
If you have it set that you have to have a big ham or a roast with tons of side dishes plus a fancy dessert and that you need to buy expensive presents for Christmas you are putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.
If your expectations make you feel stressed out and unable to enjoy yourself you should focus on readjusting it. Don’t cook too many things which are just going to end up uneaten, instead, focus on a few dishes. Don't get presents if you don't feel like it.
Make sure to set up a family meeting so everyone has an opportunity to talk about what they want their Christmas to be like. Good topics to talk about are food for the big day, what kind of presents people want or don’t want, and individual and family finances.
Be with people you want to be with
One of the reasons Christmas can be stressful is being forced to spend time with people that you don’t like and being expected to have fun. This Christmas think about how you can change this. Maybe you can start your own tradition with people that you do like. If you can’t escape certain family or work obligations plan something that you like before and after it. You can schedule for a Uber to come and pick you up a little early - you gotta do what you gotta do.
Look after yourself more
We put so much pressure on ourselves to perform everything perfectly (and sometimes that pressure is external) for Christmas, we can end up even more tired than usual. To avoid this happening again this year prioritise time to look after yourself. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, eating well, and have scheduled in relaxing activities in your calendar.
Avoid going to shopping centres
Shopping centres are not the place to be during Christmas, no matter what the advertisers would like you to think. Instead of spending your time indoors with bad lighting, tinny music looking for obligatory gifts do something better.
Declutter and clean
If your room has piles of clothes on the floor, stuff that don’t fit inside the drawers anymore, and things taking up space that are no longer any use to you it is going to affect your mood negatively. The holidays are a good time to clean up and start fresh. Instead of hitting the shops and getting more stuff go through what you already have and have a good decluttering session (link to how to declutter article).
P.S. As you got through the process think about why you have collected/hoarded all this stuff. Is there something important missing in your life? What would make you more content with your life?
Choose better presents
This year give gifts of experiences or consumables. People love experiences more than they like material gifts. Gifts of experiences can be shared experiences too, like going to dinner, or making a meal, taking group surfing lessons, a karaoke trip, or concert tickets.
Disconnect to connect
Limit your time on social media - it will make you feel better. Feelings of loneliness and exclusion can become even stronger when you other people’s happy posts. I want you to know that social media is kind of like a portfolio, people publish what they want others to see. And for some people, social media is a part of their job (think Beyonce), and it is a part of their marketing campaign like any other media channel. By spending less time on social media, you will avoid most of those holiday time happy photos people post and these are not good when you are having a terrible time with your family.
Offer a helping hand
If you have ever helped someone, you know that it feels amazing. When you help others, you kill two birds with one stone - you help someone else and you help yourself. It is one of the simplest ways to feel connected and be a part of a larger community of loving caring people, and this is a feeling we all yearn for, whether it is Christmas or not.
Practice healthy spending and saving
Figure how much you want to spend on food, gifts, and decorations, and then stick to it. Don’t cut into your savings just for Christmas. Being in debt or having no money till you get paid in January because of a few days in December is neither cool nor fun.
Make time for play
We get so hyper-focused and stressed about the food and the gifts we forget to plan fun things. Having fun is so important, even for adults so schedule and plan it some fun. When was the last time you played a game with your loved ones? You have so many options to choose from, from indoor games like Scrabble, Charades, and Pictionary to outdoor games (weather permitting) like soccer, bocce, football, cricket or even ultimate frisbee.
Plan it out
To make sure everything goes smoothly plan your days and write down things you want to do, things you have to do and events that are coming up. It is easy to forget when there is so much going on.
For example, I would write down what I am going to cook, when and where I am going to get the ingredients, upcoming events, schedule in my monthly budgeting time, when I am going to declutter, and what I am going to clean, when I am going to make my Christmas presents and when I am going to take time to look after myself so I don’t burn out.
Hope you have a safe and anxiety-free holiday. Make sure you make time for yourself during the chaos.
With love and simplicity,