The lead up to Christmas can be a crazy time.
There are parties to attend, presents to buy, shopfuls of people to wade through, and pressure to get it all done to a deadline – December 25.
It’s one of those periods of intense activity that can often lead to overwhelm and even burnout (hands up how many of you are hanging for Boxing Day so you can lay like a lizard on the lounge!)
Christmas isn’t the only manic time of year. Moving, weddings, babies, new jobs, busy business periods, milestone birthdays – all of these can be hectic times. But whatever is going on, we tend to cope (or not) with these pressure cooker periods in the same way.
How do you manage? Do you have a support system in place that keeps you on an even keel despite the mayhem, or do you charge through like a solider, doing, doing, doing, with the plan to collapse on the couch at the end and spend a week recovering?
Overwhelm warning signs
I’d love to say I am the even keel kinda girl. In everyday life I am, but when life gets chaotic, like at Christmas, I can revert to the solider on style and keep going, and going, and going! But I have learnt to see the signs, so now I can tell when I’m reaching my “doing” threshold and heading into overwhelm territory – and stop myself going over the edge.
But what bothers me most about these times though, is that I often lose the ability to enjoy the moment; to take joy from the small things.
I get so in my head about about what needs to be done and the logistics to get it all done that I’m never fully present and always thinking about the next thing on the list. Not cool.
So, I’ve created a plan for these times. It’s counterintuitive to my brain’s mission to power through, but it works.
Take non-negotiable, non-moveable ‘me time’.
In the past, when I haven’t adhered to this rule, I’ve inevitably ended up in an upset, tear-streaked, worn-out mess lying foetal position on my bed.
But who wants that kind of meltdown? And if I’ve had one, you can guarantee I’m not having any fun. Or feeling the joy.
And that’s the whole point. Christmas is a special, magical time of year. I want to feel all that love and good will, not just go through the motions.
I want to marvel at the Christmas lights on London’s Regent Street; savour the taste of mulled wine; enjoy giving a gift to a cherished friend; appreciate the precious time spent with family who live far away.
Me time not only keeps me calm and sane, it helps me stay connected to the wonders of the here and now.
Even now, having practised this for a few years, I still often feel like I can’t afford the time. Like I should really be prioritising my to-do list over this “indulgent” me time. But then I remember that by putting me time first, I am actually prioritising calm, peace and joy – the most important stuff of all.
So the next time the festive season or one of life’s chaotic storms is upon you, here’s a few ideas to help you implement some me time so you can stay connected to yourself and the magic of the moment.
- Make me time non-negotiable.
Put things in the diary that sustain and refuel you. For me it is my morning meditation and yoga once or twice a week. It can also be taking myself out for breakfast and journalling in my diary. Think about what activities nourish you and give you a sense of peace and wellbeing.
- Schedule rest time.
If you’re a natural Energiser bunny you may not need this, but I certainly do. Knowing that I have a night or a morning to look forward to where I don’t have to be somewhere or do something just for a couple of hours, helps me stay calm and feel like I am taking care of myself.
- Cut out unnecessary activity.
When you feel like you’re going to drown under the sea of to-dos, actually ask yourself if there is something you can put off until after your busy period is over. There usually is. Move a social event; get a deadline extended; or delegate something.
- Keep perspective.
When it gets too much, ask yourself what will happen if something on your list doesn’t get done. And be real. Is it really that important? Also make sure you don’t get caught in the perfection trap. (Particularly with presents!) Think progress not perfection!
- Touch the magic.
No matter how busy you are, there often is something energising about the circumstances you find yourself in. Christmas for me, for instance, even though manic, really is magical. So I make sure I pause, often, and appreciate what is around me. Christmas lights; a welcoming fire; decorations that make me smile; lovely evenings spent with precious friends. But I don’t just think about these things as being great, I search for the corresponding feeling inside me and connect with it. That’s when you really touch the magic.
Over to you
How do you stay connected with the magic of the moment when all around you is mayhem? If you’ve got some different techniques to the above please share in the comments below.
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Have a fantastic festive season.