As we hurtle towards Christmas, we are still in a place of great uncertainty. Will we be able to see loved ones? Will we be allowed to travel? How will we manage financially? What will it be like if we can’t do what we’ve always done?

For me, this seems like a prime opportunity to have a closer look at what Christmas has become for us and what we’d really like it to be?

How many people find the run up to (and sometimes the day itself) hugely stressful? Why is that? What is it that makes it so stressful? What things do you do that put all that additional pressure on yourself or is it that others add to your stress levels?

What if I could wave a magic wand and help you manage some of that stress better?

So, here’s the thing…….more often than not, our Christmas’s have become habitual like so many things in our lives. Perhaps we are following family traditions, behaviours we have learnt from our parents? Perhaps we decided that we wanted to develop our own traditions or had expectations of what Christmas “should” look like? Whatever the habits are doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to continue them and here could be your opportunity to change.

Firstly I suggest that you write a list of the main “stresses of Christmas”. Some of mine would be something like –

  • finding gifts for children of friends who I might not know particularly well
  • deciding whether to send Christmas cards and if I do to whom?
  • Budgeting
  • Christmas food shopping
  • My husband’s Christmas present & what he might buy me!
  • Over committing to social events (not something I’ll need to worry about this year)

To some these won’t look stressful at all and I’m sure you’ll have your own list but the fact of the matter is, when I look at my list, I know that they are things I get anxious about every year. This year as many other things will be different, I choose to change it up a bit.

So the next bit, is asking yourself, “what does Christmas actually mean to me?” Even more to the point, “for me to feel I have had a good/nice/lovely Christmas, what needs to have happened?” For me it’s spending time, quality time with those I love or at least connecting with them via phone or video call. Actually, I prefer simple now – I loved a very sociable Christmas in the past but tucking up with nice food & drink in the warm with all the sparkly lights around me sounds pretty idyllic to me.

That’s the thing. It’s identifying what it is you need & want right now. Not based on the past necessarily but what is important to you and before you say “it’s all about the children and I have to make sure they have a great time” – yes, to a certain extent you do but what about you? I think you know from experience that if you’re having a good time, if you’re not anxious & stressed, those around you will only benefit.

Once you’ve identified what you’d like Christmas to be like, you can then decide which of the things on your “Christmas stress list” you can actually do something about, therefore changing the way you do Christmas for now and potentially the future.

Covid has provided me with the opportunity to discuss with friends and family how to manage the event financially. We have decided amongst us who it is important that we buy presents for (not the teens I don’t know very well) and how much we feel comfortable/can afford to spend. If we are allowed to see each other, we are going to be very careful about keeping numbers small to protect the more vulnerable and with some people have postponed our get together until the Spring. This means that I won’t be buying nearly so much food and drink for entertaining, we’re keeping it simple but delicious.

My hubby & I have agreed a small budget for our Christmas presents and instead of trying to second guess what the other needs or wants, we are just going to take the allocated money & buy it ourselves. No surprises BUT we will get things we really want, the only condition being that we have to buy treats for ourselves.

I’m going to send a few Christmas cards, I’m not going to make them this year, I haven’t got the energy to be honest and I’m not going to worry if I “miss someone out” it’s not life changing.

My life is very different to how it was, losing my Mum was a game changer  and particularly at Christmas as she absolutely bloomin’ loved it and made it the most magical experience ever. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy Christmas it just means it’s different and that’s ok.

I am using this very different Christmas to push the reset button and change how we do things so that moving forward, some of the previous stresses will be less so and we enjoy a Christmas that is right for us right now.

Obviously as with all these things, it won’t be the same for everyone and I understand that, we all have challenges, different things that make us anxious but I’d like you to just take a minute, sit down with a cuppa and look at what you could do that would make Christmas more relevant and authentic to you right now. I bet there are things that you will want to change, that you can change with a bit of open communication with your friends and family. Try pushing the reset button, reboot, recharge and experience the joy in Christmas again.