We’ve dived head first into the December whirlwind - between the Christmas parties, the nativity costumes, the Santa lists and naughty elves, it's easy to lose your mind. Here are three ways to keep the overwhelm at bay and focus on the joyful moments.
Look after yourself
Tis the time to be merry, have it large in the food and drink department - because there is always January to be deprived of all the joy... these days I prefer a more balanced approach - with age and little people banging at the door at dawn, more measure makes more sense! Be realistic with how many jollies you partake in. Make big provisions of sleep. Drink (water) like a fish, schedule in regular movement even if only for a few minutes. I like these simple tips from Madeleine Shaw to be merry and keep glowing.
Master the art of imperfection
Have you heard of wabi-sabi? This is another concept from the Japanese culture that can help letting go of unnecessary stress.
In a nutshell, wabi-sabi is the acceptance of things being imperfect and impermanent. There are lessons to draw from its principles at festive times, when expectations are high:
Impermanence: nothing lasts forever. This can help us reflect on how special and unique each Christmas is, involving different people at different stages of life.
Imperfection: nothing is perfect and there is beauty in imperfection. Embrace the wonky xmas tree, the messy house, the handmade gifts and wobbly writing on cards. Find beauty and joy in the chaos!
Simplicity: Christmas in the West is often a time for over-consumption, tonnes of presents and elaborate meals. Why not swap one of the festive meals for a ready-made dinner or takeaway to stop losing your mind in the kitchen. Or keep it minimal on the decoration front and draw inspiration from Japanese homes and gardens.
Authenticity: to help us identify what really matters at festive times, to focus on connecting with experiences rather than the over-the-top gifts.
Appreciating the present moment: spending quality time with loved ones, finding beauty in the mundane. Go outside and marvel at the trees, cherish laughter and connections. This year I'm looking forward to slowing down instead of driving all across France and spending time with our precious 'London family'.
Another idea that made me reflect comes from the speaker Mel Robbins - you might be familiar with her concepts of ‘five second rule’ and ‘high five'. Recently I heard her talk about the ‘Let them’ idea, which is about focusing on what you do, what you can control, and letting go of trying to control what others are up to. Within reason and whilst ensuring everyone stays safe of course! I usually have very clear ideas of roles for party prep, it's not served me particularly well, adding stress to what should be a joyful occasion. I now try to catch myself before it happens and I've been pleasantly surprised! It's liberating and saves valuable mental bandwidth. According to Mel it’s also a contributor to increased happiness by letting go of the worry of what and who you can’t control.
What are your stress busters in the approach of the festive season? I would love to hear about them.