Five Things to Stop Doing This Holiday Season

startup sessions the retreat the workroom tricia scott Nov 23, 2021

By Tricia Scott.

Those of you who know me know how much I love the Christmas Holidays. Twinkly lights, mulled wine, carefully wrapped presents, and an abundance of friends and family across the threshold make my heart happy all across December (and a little bit of November as I always manage to sneak up some early decorations). But over the years, to fully enjoy the season, I have had to learn to let go of some things to allow space for others. 

Holidays can be a time of immense joy, but, equally, if we're not careful, they can also be a time of heightened anxiety, stress and worry. So how do we let go of the stress and enjoy the season of goodwill? Here are my top five things to STOP doing this December to make space for the fun stuff... 

 

STOP carrying the weight of other peoples expectations 

Christmas can carry a lot of expectations. Women particularly feel the pressure to provide the perfect holiday for family and friends, doing all of the things to make everyone else comfortable. Suffering over a hot oven or in a 10,0000-mile supermarket queue for the tiramisu that no one ever eats anyway (that's if you even dared to buy it and didn't spend all afternoon crying over soggy bottomed cake. I mean, is it even Christmas if that didn't happen?) Let. It. Go. Seriously, stop trying to be superwoman and ask for help. I learned this lesson a few years ago when our oven blew a fuse four times while cooking Christmas lunch. About to have a nervous breakdown and making a beeline for the nearest bottle of red wine, the mothers stepped in. They took tasks each, my partner set-to with the fuses, someone produced a fat fryer and my partners brother started cooking roast potatoes in the garage (the hilarity), and all I could do was laugh. Here I was freaking out, and I had all of this help around me. All I had to do was ask. I realised, in this case, the expectation was one I had unnecessarily put upon myself; when I let it go, it became so much fun! Dinner was served (albeit late). We cooked together, laughed hard, and the food really was some of the best we've ever made - filled with laughter, wine and love. Where can you let go of expectation and let it be fun? 

 

STOP saying yes when your heart says no

Over the years of working with women, I've noticed that we have difficulty setting boundaries and saying no. This is especially true of the holidays with mounting pressure to spend money, host the family, attend parties, organise events and generally be all things to everyone. If this sounds familiar, I encourage you to look again at your overflowing list of obligations. What's literally sucking the joy out of the season for you? If you're feeling overwhelmed and need a night in watching the Hallmark channel, take it! If you know you can't afford to contribute to a collection fund, be honest. You are under NO obligation to anything or anyone, and protecting your mental health should be paramount (at all times, but especially if you find yourself facing extra pressure at Christmas). Communicating how you're feeling to those around you is often a relief for both parties. Many people feel the pressure, and by opening up, you may just be giving someone else the chance to do the same.

 

STOP comparing yourself with others 

Tis' not the season for comparing your life to that of others. Motivation does not come from comparing your life/ gifts/ home/ family (the list goes on forever) to someone else. In fact, it makes for a bit of a miserable time. My top tip is to take social media with a bucket full of salt. What you're watching is simply a highlight reel, not real life. Let's face it; you're much more likely to see happy smiling faces, cosy nights in with hot chocolate and loved ones and perfectly ironed PJ's (not in my house) than unfiltered pictures of burned sprouts, family fallouts and overly tired children taking tantrums on an un-swept kitchen floor. So remember that and know that it doesn't represent real life. Instead of hovering over a screen at the Christmas table and comparing someone else's fun to yours, look at what's wonderful about your own day and remember, if your festive season isn't looking like something from the Hallmark channel, you are NOT alone. Chances are, even the most perfectly curated Instagram snaps are set to a background of chaos and imperfection. Take care of your mental health and enjoy your day. 

 

STOP worrying and start enjoying 

As stressful as we can find the Holidays, there comes a time when we have to take stock and look at what's really important. Of course, this will be different for each person reading these words, but the critical thing here is what's important to you. Make a list and get rid of the rest. Delegate, ask for help or just plain cross it off the list if it doesn't make you happy. Christmas cheer isn't automatic; it's something we curate for ourselves depending on what matters to us most. So choose carefully. Ask someone else to cook the turkey this year and spend the time you would have spent in the supermarket queue drinking mulled wine with your girlfriends or indulging in Love Actually for the tenth time with hot chocolate and marshmallows in your Santa Pj's. Will things go awry at some point? Probably. Just know that even the most perfectly planned Christmas is open to tripped fuses and garage cooked potatoes, be easy on yourself and enjoy the things that make your heart happy.

 

STOP working and start living 

Ah yes, let's talk about the actual work we have to do ON TOP of the seemingly endless festive planning. You know, the stuff that pays for all of that and keeps the (festive) lights on. It's easy to become overwhelmed, and the answer I've found is the most counter-intuitive. Ready? Take more breaks. Yes, I did just say that. The answer is to step away from your desk more often during the day. This is especially important if you struggle with the nights cutting in early. Get outside during the day, even just as far as the garden or any outside space. I often stand in the garden wrapped in a coat and drink my coffee rather than sit at my desk nursing my mug. The result is always more productivity, clearer thinking and more creative energy. It has been proven time and time again that we humans can only concentrate for so long before our brains stop functioning to maximum effect, so take my advice and step away from the computer and if anyone questions you, exaggeratedly roll your eyes and tell them 'because, science'. You have my explicit permission. You're welcome.

 


 

 

 

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