Was anyone else surprised when they saw Christmas decorations at the start of November? Don’t get me wrong, I love the festive season and put my tree up before many others. But with holiday celebrations beginning earlier –and- earlier, it feels like there’s more pressure to get everything perfect this time of year.
By mid-November, we have begun considering the logistics of the holidays. When will we find time to decorate? How will we afford presents? What family will we see? How many extra-hours do I need to work to prepare for the seasonal break?
Making it through the holidays can be exhausting. But by emotionally preparing for the month, you give yourself the best chance of staying healthy — and you may even some fun.
Here are the five steps you can follow to emotionally prepare for the festive season.
- Stop procrastinating
The holidays will be here before you know it. Sure, it is easy to try and avoid plans by throwing ourselves into the busyness of life, but soon enough we receive event invitations. Family start to ask questions. You are told to bring a meal. And then there’s the last minute Kris Kringle….
Save yourself the stress of being unprepared, and start planning now. Take out a diary and write in the events you have already booked in, and observe how busy you are over the month. This will show you how flexible you can be with your time.
- Make a list
You know what is expected of you this month, but what do you actually want to experience? Make a list of the things you value. You might list down family time, rest, a good meal, or catching up with friends. Use this list to identify what your non-negotiables are over December.
For instance, you may value family time over giving expensive presents. So instead of spending your cash on individual gifts for mum, cousin Janice and Grandma Martha, suggest the family do a Secret Santa. Or, if you receive two invitations for the same day and one is with a group of people you don’t regularly see, you may prioritise this over the work Christmas party.
- Set your boundaries
It’s so hard to say, “no,” when everyone expects you to be superhuman over the festive season — so it helps to set your boundaries early. This means that you decide how much time, energy and money you want to delegate to different activities over the season. You’ve listed your priorities, so this will show you what events or moments are actually worth your time, and which demand less.
Once you’ve figure this out, don’t be afraid to clarify these parameters with others. If you are unsure what is expected of you at a party (dress code, gifts, food, emotionally counselling Aunty Doris), ask the host or your colleagues. If you can’t do it say so, or suggest an alternative E.g. “I have a family event that day, so I will drop in to the party between 7 and 8,” or “We’ve decided limit our store-brought gifts this year to better the environment and cut down on waste, so I’m limited in what I can offer.”
- Stand your ground
The festive season is stressful, and people will often come to you and ‘ask’ for help. The good news is that you DO NOT HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING. Look at your priorities and see what you committed to. If a request doesn’t fit in this, or you don’t have the capacity to fulfil a commitment, be assertive and say so. This doesn’t have to be awkward or aggressive. Just state that you are unable to do so-and-so this year due to previous commitments.
Depending how close you are with the person, you may even be able to say that you can’t do something due to finances, health or stress. On the chance the person pushes back, remember — you do not have to carry guilt over this season. Let them take responsibility for their own emotions, and you own yours.
- Let yourself have fun
It’s not your responsibility to suffer so everyone else has a perfect Christmas. Make time for activities or events that you will enjoy over the season. Schedule in moments of rest where you can go for a walk or nap, and remember that your wellbeing does not have to be put on the backburner this season.
If you stop and breathe, the world will keep spinning. People will still enjoy the party. The family will survive. And you won’t fail at being a friend, parent or colleague. So ask for help when you need too, and don’t be afraid to say “no”. Because who wants holiday burnout?
Do you want to learn how to set boundaries? Would you like support as you prioritise your emotional wellbeing? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245, Duncan on 0434 331 243 or Rachel on 0442 177 193 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online.