Have a Sane Christmas This Year

Dr. John Townsend

December 20, 2019

Christmas is a wonderful holiday, with family, friends, faith and great times all rolled up together. But it’s more likely than not that you are feeling pressured to get it all done, whatever you have determined “it all” is.  You may also remember last Christmas, when afterwards, you felt a bit burnt out and in need of recovery.  

This Christmas doesn’t need to be that way! Here are some tips to help you have a Christmas this year where sanity rules.

Get away from it all for a few minutes, every day. The Christmas season is double duty: on top of family and job responsibilities, there are presents to buy and wrap, plus lots of  events to attend. It’s literally a second full time job. So you must find at least 20 minutes in a row every day to stop, put the phone on silent, go into another room, or take a walk, but somehow give your brain a break and simply do some deep breathing, relaxing and reflecting on something positive: gratitude for something good that is happening, a relationship that means something to you, a good job you accomplished at work. Otherwise you’ll end your day feeling frazzled. That 20 minutes will make a huge difference.

Prune back 20%. We never never never get our entire “to do” list done for Christmas. Then we feel stressed. The problem is, the stress doesn’t come from not getting it all done. The stress comes from expecting too much of ourselves. So write out and prioritize what is truly important and what is just sort of urgent but in the end, not all that important. Then knock off 20% of what you planned to do. It will not be easy, but I promise you, freedom is on the other end of that pruning and you will start to feel lighter with a little time and money margin during the season. 

Go for experiences more than things. Most of us have a lot of stuff. It’s rare that a tangible Christmas present will really transform your year. So give, and ask for, experiences: nights out, shows to see, hikes, mini-vacays, etc.  One of my favorite experiences was another couple taking my wife and me to a store where they showed us how to make coffee mugs by hand. I have remembered that for years, while I’ve forgotten the great majority of tangibles I’ve received. 

Pick who and how you spend your time with. At your gatherings and parties, don’t let crazy Uncle Bill dominate the event by controlling the conversation and making it about himself, or by just being rude. Don’t walk off in a huff from Uncle Bill, but be polite, spend about 2 minutes with him, then excuse yourself and walk over to where someone who is warm and interesting is.  Plant yourself there. Have 2-3 conversations with people like that. It will really help. And Bill probably won’t even notice you weren’t around. 

There is still time for sanity this year!!!! And Merry Christmas to you and yours.

John

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