5 ways to survive the holiday season

‘Tis the season to be jolly fa la la … But how can you make the most of the festivities and still emerge in 2015 rested and relaxed?

There is a lot to do. Presents to buy, events to plan, parties to attend, food to bake, cards to write, projects to finish off, franchisees to visit, calls to make, end of year wrap ups, trees to decorate. It’s a long list, and it all has to be done by Christmas.

There is a lot going on…

Most people I know hurtle toward the 25th in a flurry of ‘musts’.  I must finish that project before Christmas, I must catch up with [insert a long list of people] before Christmas, I must get the carpets cleaned, sort out my office, get to the dentist, call my franchisees… it must be done by Christmas!

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Not just ticking off all the things on the list, but we also wanting everything to be perfect. It’s a month of late nights, looming deadlines, torturous shopping centre visits, all that added stress results in tired, frayed tempers. Is it any wonder that some of us land on Christmas Day an exhausted grumpy Grinch?

Thankfully, corporate Australia slides into a Christmas / New Year coma for six weeks, emerging sometimes in February. Most of us take the opportunity to join in and take a break.

How do you make the most of your time off? Recover from the chaos, have a proper rest and then hit the New Year firing?

Here are some tips:

1. ’Tis the season to get your ducks in a row

One of the main causes of stress is feeling like we aren’t in control. And nothing spins us out of control faster than a mile long to do list, looming deadlines and not enough time to get it all done. Carrying that stress into the Christmas holiday, almost defeats the point of having a break. We can get in a cycle of beating ourselves up, feeling guilty about it… rinse and repeat.

Get your work ducks in a row before you finish up. Be realistic about what you can do in the time you have. Prioritise your tasks and park any you can for the new year. Yes it would be nice to start 2015 with a blank to do list, but that’s very unlikely to happen. Instead opt for an organized to do list, a filed inbox or a tidy office.

2. ’Tis the season to get real

If you are a perfectionist, then Christmas can send that tendency into hyper drive! Even the non-perfectionists still carry some expectations on what the festive season should be like. We all want that perfect TV or story book Christmas. It doesn’t happen.

There is no such thing as a perfect holiday. So grab those expectations you have and lower them ….all the way down.

Most of our unhappiness comes from unfulfilled expectations. So cut out the middle man and let go of any expectations. That’s not easy. But one neat trick is to stay focused on what you want, and let go of how it happens. For example you want a delicious, fun family meal on Christmas day. Stay focused on that, and let go of the need for the roast potatoes to be perfectly brown, or the napkins folded precisely, or perfectly wrapped presents. No one remembers that stuff. They remember the belly laugh that made Uncle Tony shoot a pea out his nose.

The real joy is in the moments we let happen, rather than try and make happen.

3. ’Tis the season to practice acceptance

Spending time with family can be stressful. We revert to childhood behaviours and old patterns. Family brings out the very best of us and the very worst.

The key is to catch the triggers. It might be that your brother’s teasing that sets you off, Dad’s myopic view of franchising, Mum reorganising your shed or your nephew smearing who knows what on the walls. Take a deep breath and remember that the people who are driving you crazy, are the same ones who made you who you are.

4.   ’Tis the season to rest and feed your brain

Regardless if you are taking a break at home or travelling, try to take a good quality break.

Maybe try one of the following

  • Sleep in and turn the alarm off.
  • Have a Nanna Nap.
  • Read that book.
  • Go to a gallery.
  • Take a long walk by yourself.
  • Watch that documentary.
  • Play, make stuff, get messy

5. ’Tis the season to turn off

Turn off the technology. Sure, send a Yule Tide greeting on Facebook and check out your friends Christmas activity … but do it once and then put it away. Check those urgent emails … but do it and put it away.

We work hard during the year and we may not spend as much time as we want with friends and family. Turning the technology off screams a big ‘I am yours and you have my attention’.

Be the present your family wants … you, being present and in the moment.

How do you switch off for the break?