The Christmas countdown has begun.
Spending time with family, having fun at festive celebrations, and celebrating special moments. Right? Wrong!
For many, Christmas is a time of great stress, anxiety, chaos, tension, and extreme pressure to achieve perfectionism.
Frustrations arise when, once again, Christmas is at your house because no one else has offered to organise it. Then there’s the family member who turns up like a guest and doesn’t help. And the family member who criticises and finds a fault in everything.
The family argument that’s been brewing all year will surface due to the copious amounts of wine. And there’s always that one person who plays that board game as if it were an Olympic sport for which they will be receiving a gold medal. Or the family member who, during the present opening stage, starts immediately cleaning up and vacuuming not only the floor but the fun out of everything, too.
Finally, let’s not forget that grateful family member who will ask, “Do you still have the receipt?” before they have even fully finished unwrapping their gift.
It can all be so overwhelming, leaving us feeling unappreciated, undervalued, and irritated. But there are things we can do.
Here are five tips that can help you change your mindset to deal more effectively with the Christmas chaos:
Family dynamics can bring upon strong emotions, making us sensitive, defensive, reactive, and irrational. During stressful situations, it is important to rationalise our thinking by focusing on facts, evidence, and proof. If a family member makes a comment that leaves us feeling upset, criticised, unhappy, or not good enough, reflect on:
>> Where is the evidence to prove what they are saying is true?
>> Where is the evidence to prove what they are saying is not true?
>> What would I say to someone if I was watching all this happen?
Rational thinking gives us clarity, certainty, and control within a situation, therefore making us proactive rather than reactive.
Set Realistic Expectations
The pursuit of creating a perfect Christmas can lead to the setting of expectations which can never be fulfilled, not because we aren’t good enough, but because the expectation is unrealistic. It is important to ask ourselves:
>> Am I putting more pressure on myself and setting up expectations of myself that are almost impossible?
>> How realistic are my expectations?
>> What would be more realistic?
Being realistic helps us set expectations and outcomes that are achievable. In doing so, we stop setting ourselves up to fail.
Stop Being Critical
Being critical and questioning whether everything is “good enough” makes us overwork, overcompensate, and people-please. We can be kind and compassionate to ourselves by:
>> Thinking of someone dear to us.
>> Visualise them running around and doing everything you are doing.
>> What would you say to them if they were in your situation?
>> What advice would you give them?
>> What can you do to be kinder and less critical toward yourself?
Don’t make one set of rules for others and a completely different set for yourself. Be fair!
Be Mindful by Staying in the Present
Thinking about future scenarios, playing conversations in our head, and having visions of what we think is going to go wrong can be so overwhelming. We can bring ourselves to the present moment by questioning:
>> What is the worst case possible scenario that could happen?
>> On a scale of 1-10, what is the likelihood of that scenario taking place?
>> In the unlikely event that does happen, how will I deal with it?
Preparing by creating a plan makes us feel reassured and in control, enabling us to let go of the thought that bothers us and stop us from living in the future.
We have to stop trying to change and control those around us. If we know that particular family members are going to behave in a certain way, then why is their behaviour such a surprise when it happens? If they have always behaved a certain way, then why would they all of a sudden change how they are for the sake of one day?
Instead of focusing on their behaviours, focus on what we can change. Ask yourself, how can I react or respond differently to this situation?
There are a lot of things that aren’t in our control. We can however take control of how we react. We can decide how we respond to the behaviour of others. We can question ourselves on whether it is really fair to expect someone to change who they are just so that we can be happy. We can chose to be kind to ourselves and accept that we can only do our best—and our best is good enough.
Finally, by following these five tips, we can change our mindset and choose whether we want to perceive the month of December and the Christmas season as a hit or a miss!