Article by Anna Letitia Cook
‘Tis the season to be jolly – Fa la la la la, la la la la…’ Or is it?
Personally, I love Christmas, it is fabulous, fantastic, brilliant, great and my favourite time of year. However, even I admit the stress levels tend to go up as the big day approaches.
What are the main reasons that can cause us stress over Christmas and the New Year and how can we better manage them?
Priorities – Learn to say no, don’t overcommit yourself.
Don’t feel obliged to do everything your other half’s, great uncle’s, divorced cousin, twice removed, did perfectly about a zillion years ago. That was their Christmas, it isn’t yours. You are not them. You don’t become the monster from hell just because you haven’t baked homemade cakes for the whole county for boxing day afternoon tea…
Christmas is meant to be the spirit of gratitude and giving, it is meant to be fun, happy and pleasurable for you as well as giving pleasure. It is NOT a competition to see who can do the most, more expensively or impressively than others.
Do what you want, create the traditions that you appreciate, sit down and think about your priorities over this coming period. This will help you say no, more easily, to all the rest
Money – Don’t take out a second mortgage just because it’s Christmas
Yes, we all want to give our nearest and dearest the best, most expensive gift in the shop but have you actually considered what is most important to them. Would they really prefer the latest designer whatever, bought off the shelf in an expensive boutique? Or, would they prefer to receive something that shows the time and thought you have put into finding it, creating it or preparing it especially for them? Remember material items are not normally what are appreciated the most. Something that shows your ‘love’ and ‘caring’ for the person is what really warms their heart.
Family – Fun or fight!
What is that expression? You can choose your friends but not your family… Christmas is when our rose-tinted glasses change to shocking pink about our great love for every single, most distant, member of our family! Unfortunately, being in close proximity to everyone for endless hours of food, talk and alcohol doesn’t always produce the best outcome. If you are the one who is doing all the work, you will be overtired on top of the rest. Think objectively and plan realistically. Sometimes we have a particular family member who grates on our nerves. Options are, don’t invite them or if you really can’t avoid them, accept they will probably be a pain in the neck. Knock it into your head with a sledgehammer that you aren’t bothered by their comments/behaviour. Rise above the smallness of their actions and just be sorry for them that they have the problems they have… Read the book by Byron Katie – Loving What Is – before Christmas and focus on the things you like, the good, the fun, the nice, let the rest wash over you. Appreciate all that you love, don’t fuss over the small stuff.
Some of the problems we have and stress we feel is actually caused by our body struggling to manage the enormous quantities of overly rich food and drink we guzzle at this time of year. We don’t have to eat giant quantities of every single thing to prove we are enjoying it; we can just savour one mouthful. Think about going minimalist on the food and drinks, and try to substitute healthier, and as tasty, options rather than overload. Be the first person to jump up and help with all clearing up, preparing tea/coffee and any other chores… far better doing that than being tempted by another helping of Christmas pudding!
Focus on getting as much exercise as possible during this period. Go out for a long family walk before and after each meal. Take children/grandchildren to play in the snow, in the park or in the garden. Play silly games like Twister to move your body inside the house and give everyone a laugh.
Every bit of activity helps your body cope with excess and helps you keep energy levels up, which in turn reduces stress and keeps happiness and fun levels up!
So be prepared, relax, have fun and enjoy!
Anna Letitia Cook is particularly passionate about mentoring women executives, and the 50+ sector, in finding clarity in their career choices. She created and became CEO of her first company in the entertainment industry at age 32. Midlife approaching, hungry for a dynamic change, she refocused her experience, founding WomenUP Ltd, focusing on helping women shape their own future. Creator of the process SCOPE for career, fulfilment and success, she is currently working on her first book ‘Liberate Your Career: The Women’s Guide to Freedom and Fulfilment’, with plans for a second, ‘Glass Ceiling Grans’, early next year. On the personal front, Anna lives in the beautiful French countryside, she has 2 grown children and looks forward to becoming a granny (hopefully sooner rather than later)! She is a committed dog lover and accomplished horsewoman, passionately interested in ballet, and a devotee of adventurous hiking and trekking.