Welcome to this week’s ‘Guest What’. This feature gives writers of other blogs the chance to submit a post and put it up on my site. It may be that they write here about something they wouldn’t normally say or put up on their own site, or may be they would like my readers to know more about them…whatever your reason you are very welcome here 🙂
My blog is called ‘Stay Calm and Content’. I am a relationship counsellor, British Army wife, writer, and mother of two children aged 7 and 4. I blog about and answer relationship dilemmas.
I am so grateful to Victoria for this chance to spread the word about my blog and, as it is so close to Christmas, this post is about the stress the festive season can sometimes bring, and how to handle it calmly and contentedly!
What if we are dreading Christmas? Or perhaps we are just a little anxious about the thought of so much time with our family members?
What is the ‘secret’to staying calm throughout the festive season, and enjoying it, no matter what it brings?
The secret of a calm and happy Christmas is self-esteem.
We feel ‘stressed’ when we perceive the demands being placed on us as exceeding our ability to cope with them.
Christmas bring stress because of how much we expect from ourselves. We might be aiming to find perfect presents for everyone, to wrap them perfectly, write cards on time, prepare perfect food, find perfect decorations, get on well with everyone all the time, the list goes on…
When we feel happy and ‘at our best’ is when our self-esteem is good. We usually feel confident in our ability to cope with life even under unpredictable or challenging circumstances.
Those who find Christmas the most enjoyable are those who accept it might be challenging, and so don’t expect perfection.
He or she doesn’t ‘beat themselves up’ if they forget something, or if something goes wrong. They focus instead on what they can control, they maintain their self-belief, and they focus on building themselves and others up.
What controls self-esteem?
If we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances then we are being emotionally ‘threatened’ and our physiological fight or flight instinct kicks in. This causes physical changes such as an increased heart rate, and we might feel hot, nauseous, or agitated.
We will describe these physical experiences as negative emotions such as frustration, anger, fear or anxiety.
If we are unaware what generates our negative emotions, then we will also be unaware that our subsequent actions are attempts to protect or repair our self-esteem.
We instinctively do what makes ourselves feel more in control and ‘better’ at the time, maybe become angry or defensive more quickly, or argue with our spouse or children, or do something to ‘take our mind off it’ such as drinking or eating too much.
If we are behaving in a negative way to ourselves or others then it is a clear sign that the pressure of Christmas is affecting our self-esteem.
What can we do to stop feeling stressed?
– First of all, take responsibility. You are the only one responsible for how you feel about yourself at any moment. Take responsibility for maintaining and building your own self-worth and self-confidence so that you can praise yourself and ‘be at your best’.
– When you start feeling stressed, or start ‘getting at’ yourself or other people, find somewhere to be alone, even for a couple of minutes. Take slow deep breaths and imagine you are breathing in a warm, bright light and breathing out self-doubt and self-criticism. Say to yourself, out loud if possible, – “I am okay, I can only do my best, I can cope with this, I believe in myself”. Smile and stretch your arms to relieve your tension.
Top Tips for a stress-free Christmas.
Get prepared. It’s not too late to use a diary. Write everything in the same place, appointments, timings, card list, gift ideas. Tick things off and you will see how well you are doing to manage it all.
Make a present plan and set a budget – if you have left it to the last minute could all your relatives get vouchers, books, music or hampers this year?
Ring the changes – perhaps a new tradition might bring new pleasures, ask everyone to bring a dish to share rather than shouldering the whole burden yourself.
Ask for help – Fully appreciating an occasion means playing a part in it. Give others a chance to help, whether it’s with present buying, wrapping, or food preparation. If your ‘standards’ slip, then so be it, don’t be a martyr.
Prioritise pleasure for yourself – If you love a walk, a quiet bath, or a night out with just your partner then don’t forget these things during the festive period, they are important to you and you are important, find time for them and don’t feel guilty about it.
Don’t expect perfection, it isn’t necessary for a happy festive period over all. There will be ups and downs, so expect them.
What really matters?
Let go of expectations and traditions if they are not really important to you. Focus your efforts on whatever really matters to you and those closest to you.
Dealing with the family!
Those we care most about have the most powerful influence over our self-esteem. Emotions run high at Christmas. Remember; you, not them, decide how you feel about yourself.
If someone is unpleasant to you then he or she will be feeling low about themselves for some reason and are attacking or criticising you to try to feel better. Don’t take it personally, their behaviour is about themselves not you, try to understand rather than criticise them in return.
Encourage and praise your partner, your family, friends and children during this festive season. Giving praise and recognition shows healthy self-esteem and is the most likely way we will receive the same in return.
“Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how”
Focus on being kind, supportive and welcoming, no matter how others are behaving, and you will ensure a happy Christmas for yourself and those around you. Good luck!
Here are the details about the book, it’s not too late to order a Christmas copy?!
‘Stay Calm and Content No Matter What Life Throws At You’ covers more than 25 different topics and is a short and jargon-free look at how to live a happier life. Only 9.95 on Amazon, multiple 5 star reviews and professional starred reviews.
50% of the profits from Stay Calm and Content are going to UK counselling charities.
Thank you for reading! I welcome comments below.