Blink and it is already December. How did that happen?
For many people, 2016 has been a year of ups and downs – something I can personally attest to. So as we begin to welcome in these warmer months; months filled with Christmas parties, family get-togethers and a general tendency to ‘over-indulge’ in the finer things in life, I thought this might be a pertinent time to reflect on exactly how to get through the silly season and see yourself sailing blissfully in to the new year.
1. Set boundaries
Hey you! Yes you, the people pleaser, I’m talking to you! It’s time to start setting some boundaries with the people in your life, and quickly - before you find yourself frustrated, burnout and resentful of everyone and everything. December can be a month where the invites are flooding in and the ‘to-do’ list just keeps getting bigger and bigger. So it’s important to know that it’s okay to not overload yourself. You are allowed to say no, and guess what – you don’t even have to justify your answer! It’s called assertiveness. Saying no to an invitation or a request to help out may seem like a foreign concept to some people. However, it’s an important skill to develop.
But what if people get upset with me, I hear you say. It’s okay. Let them be upset. Defining your boundaries is an important part of self-care and nurturing your self-esteem in healthy ways. In the long run it will gain you more respect than being a martyr to the cause every time.
So by all means, if you are the person who is running around helping everyone else out and you have the time, energy, and will to do so - then please keep on doing it. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t all do our best to pitch in and lend a hand and use this time to catch up with loved ones. However if you find yourself exhausted, resentful and wishing that the year was over, you might find that you are overburdening yourself and that it is time to re-check where your boundaries lie.
2. Set your limits before an event when it comes to over-indulging
We’ve all been there. It’s the end of Christmas lunch or dinner and you’re sitting there - uncomfortably full, perhaps even feeling a little sick and definitely remorseful of the amount of food and/or alcohol that you’ve just consumed.
So let’s make 2016 the year that you don’t feel this way. We are lucky in Australia that around Christmas time, the weather is generally warm and the need to tuck in to starchy comfort foods is decreased – so take advantage of it. If you are hosting Christmas lunch or dinner, how about including some light salads and meats to fill up on, rather than the heavy carbs? Or if you are attending someone else’s dinner, offer to bring something that you know will leave you and everyone else feeling good after eating it.
And set yourself limits. It’s easy to get carried away with so much yummy food around, so plan what you are going to eat in advance; have a good think about it, even the day beforehand. Having multiple meals to attend versus just one will factor in to how you plan your day. Will one plate of food be enough, or will you go back for seconds? Will trying three or four different desserts make you feel good, or will one or two actually be entirely sufficient?
Make a plan and stick to it. Then you can pat yourself on the back at the end of the day when you know that you stuck to your plan and you’re left feeling all the better for it.
3. Choose a spirit of generosity and kindness
The holiday and Christmas period can be a trying time for those who have difficult or complicated relationships with the people they are obliged to see – most commonly family, but it could be anyone. Underlying tensions and high expectations cause undue stress, often leading to the very thing that you were anxious about to begin with – a big blow up on Christmas day.
So this year, what I suggest is that you try something that might be a bit different. Approach these difficult situations with a spirit of generosity and kindness. Sometimes it might seem impossible to understand how or why people act the way that they do. However the truth is that no matter what the situation is, there are always two sides to the story. You may be 110% convinced that you are in the right, and you could very well be, but it doesn’t matter. Choosing to forgive and to bring to the table a sense of love and compassion is a gift that you first give yourself; then others.
So whilst there may be people in your life that you don’t see eye to eye with and who you dread having to spend time with this holiday season, do your best to act with kindness and generosity towards them. Until we’ve walked in another person’s shoes, we can never truly know how we would act or what we would do. Keep this in mind in order to keep frustration and tension at bay.
4. Decide on your financial limits
Let’s face it; December can be an expensive time of year. A recent article from the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that Australian shoppers will spend $48.1 billion dollars in retail stores over the Christmas trading period. $8.8 billion of that will be on presents; half of that on credit. That’s a lot of money and it’s a figure that too often leaves many families repaying debts for months afterwards.
Rather than financially crippling yourself this year, ask yourself, is there a better way that this could be done? Consider some of the following:
An oldie but a goodie – the ‘kris kringle’. Rather than having to think of a present for every single member of the family, why not do a kris kringle with a set spending limit? This takes away the financial burden and means that you can put more thought in to just one present rather than worrying about what to get for everyone.
Better yet, get creative! Making presents for one another could be a good way to save money, AND have a family fun day together.
Start your food and alcohol shopping weeks in advance. Keep an eye out for specials and bulk buys which could save you significantly, rather than waiting until the last minute.
Consider using public spaces such as parks and gardens for get-togethers, rather than forking out endless amounts of cash on restaurants, bars and private hire venues over the silly season.
So that’s it for 2016. Thank you to all of my family and friends and who have supported me this year, personally and professionally. To all of my wonderful clients who have come to see me, have referred friends and family, left reviews and given me such positive feedback. It is seeing all of your progress and transformations which make me know that I have the best job in the world.
Heading in to 2017, keep an eye out for my first blog post which will include some pretty juicy specials to welcome in the New Year! Merry Christmas everyone and a happy New Year!