Lyndsay Drury has recently given a talk about Surviving Christmas so I have invited her to share her thoughts in this blog.
Hi, I am a Mentor, Supervisor and Trainer, helping promote positive mental health and wellbeing amongst teenagers and adults in my local community. I am not an expert who has gained immunity from stress, but I am a battle warrior who is in pursuit of helping myself not to get in my own way!
We all have different triggers for stress and what stresses me might instil a different reaction in you, and vice versa! But Christmas is well known for being a time when many get stressed.
So how can you cope?
I have a couple of strategies to share with you and I hope they will help bring peace and even joy to you and yours.
When it comes to coping with anything, there will be things you do that will hinder you and things you do that will help. So here are some mindsets that can trip you up….
Stewing without doing
Think of a hamster wheel. There is loads of activity and energy expenditure but no progress. Does that sound familiar?
Your brain is a wonderful problem solving machine so it will always be on the hunt for a problem to solve! This can so easily lead to rumination/overthinking, catastrophizing, all-or-nothing thinking, mind reading and classic brain fog. Do you relate to any of that?
Believing you are invincible
There may be so much to do you assume you can run on adrenaline and stress chemicals, with little time for rest and recharging. You may be surviving on caffeine and heavily processed food as fuel and then use alcohol or nicotine to cope.
Is it little wonder your body bites back and you develop symptoms of stress and fatigue?
Would your car, computer or phone run well if you treated them in a similar way?
Striving for perfection
This is a serious form of self-abuse. You have a relentless internal critic that makes you feel that nothing is good enough until it is perfect.
Is that you?
Misplacing your values
Have you lost sight of why you do what you do?
Are you on a treadmill of valuing the wrong things, trying to please everyone all of the time? Be aware that people-pleasing denies and erodes your own worth.
Also, there’s consumerism that creates
an insatiable appetite,
is unsustainable for the planet,
and is a great danger to the modern world.
The pressures from consumerism are keenly felt at Christmas.
Have a think about any of this that resonates with you.
These are some of the things that hinder your enjoyment of Christmas so to counteract that depressing reflection turn to think about some strategies you can adopt.
Take an overwhelming situation and follow a simple 4 step plan:
Break it down into smaller chunks
Choose one chunk
Make a plan for that chunk
This approach reduces the sense of being overwhelmed and the temptation to withdraw. It builds motivation and momentum. It turns climbing a mountain of a task into a series of individual steps.
Try one of the 4 D’s
Set your mind to take direct action rather than waste energy in overthinking.
Fly in the face of procrastination and cash in on that relief!
Does it all have to be done today? Really? Who’s the slave driver?
Does it all have to be done by you? Really?
Good communication with others can be releasing and key.
Watch out for your ego and pride with this one!
Is it really necessary?
Is it driven by relentless perfectionism or out of date or someone else’s principles/rules?
Has its importance or relevance to you changed?
Did you notice there are 5 tick boxes on the image?
Consider a 5th D
Ask God to help.
God is in everything, everywhere, at all times. That means he is with you where you are right now. But do you notice?
What about this Christmas could be truly divine – in the fullest sense of the word?
Hopefully, not just the food, drink, company or events.
The good news is that God is good and that he came in Jesus that we might have a rich and meaningful life through knowing Him. We just need to ask him to help us.
He is in and behind all good things!
What a gift!
We have been given senses to help us FULLY appreciate everything around us. We can switch ourselves away from living numbly on autopilot by using our nose, eyes, ears, mouth and hands to appreciate something that’s right in front of us.
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it ‘The Present.’ Take hold of it and use it.
That can lead you to be thankful.
Thankfulness displaces, anger, worry, tension and fear.
These negative stresses struggle to co-exist in your mind when you are being intentionally thankful.
Of course this approach doesn’t remove your to-do-list but it gives a very refreshing head-holiday from the strains of a 24/7 modern life.
So name what you are thankful for and experience a renewed heart that is filled with wonder and joy.
Keep the main thing the main thing.
Simplify and be happier and in control.
Have kind expectations.
Love people and use things….not the other way around!
These strategies are for life, not just for Christmas!
Don’t get caught in the consumer trap.
Lean into what matters most.
Be realistic and kind to yourself and others.
This adds a richness and meaning to life.
And have a Happy Christmas!
Any comments or questions? Click on the title of this post to reveal the comment box.