What is the overriding feeling you hope to have this Christmas? I’m guessing jolly isn’t really up there. But what is?
Fun? Happy? Peaceful? Content? Satisfied that you’ve “done” Christmas well?
Or do you have a sneaking suspicion that you might feel something else?
Overwhelmed? Debt ridden? Hungover? In conflict with family? Gluttonous?
Let’s face it, its not the season to be jolly for lots of us. So what can you do to prepare yourself for the season ahead?
Plan and make conscious decisions, not spur of the moment decisions made on the basis of “Feck it, it’s Christmas!”. As well as planning your shopping, your wardrobe and your Christmas menu, decide now, at the beginning of the month what you want for you over Christmas. What is important to you at Christmas?
How many social occasions do you want to attend? What people do you want to meet? Ask yourself, if you haven’t seen that person over the last year do you really need to meet them over Christmas? Set yourself some boundaries. If you say that you’re not going to a certain event, think about what you will say if someone tries to persuade you. Have your lines ready. A firm “No thank you” is usually accepted.
If you go on a night out or a Christmas party, how do you want to feel the next day? How do you want to behave in front of friends or work colleagues? Be aware if there is something or someone who could trigger you into doing something you don’t want to – be it a round of shots, nightclubbing to 3 am or someone who you might feel inclined to say a few home truths to if some drink is taken. Do you really want that? If not, devise a strategy to avoid those triggers or stay away from those people.
Holidays can be difficult as many of us visit family, some of whom we might not see that often either. Adult children can revert to childlike behaviour when back in their childhood home with their parents. Sibling rivalry can re-appear too. And all that before we even get to the in-laws, or a houseful of children all high on selection boxes and ice cream! Again, have a strategy. If you don’t like the vibes or the dynamic, or sense something is brewing, take a break – go for a walk, read a book, wash the dishes, play with the kids. Be clear on how long you’re staying if you’re in someone else’s home, or how long your people are staying with you if you have guests.
Is your health important to you? Did you have health, fitness or weight goals for 2018? How did they go? Are you thinking you will start over again in January so you will eat and drink to your heart’s content throughout the Christmas season?
Let’s just think for a few minutes.
Does this sound familiar? Do you make the same resolutions every January and behave the same way every December? What does that tell you?
Quick reminder: the average (British) person eats 6000 calories on Christmas Day! It’s true. Read this. And that’s only one day. Count up all the other days and the evening social events with drinks and nibbles. Even if you’re not a big drinker it can add up. There’s 126 calories in a Baileys and over 500 in a bottle of red wine. Then there’s the extras that are easy to forget: the coffee and cookie, gingerbread, boxes of chocolates. Maybe you have a fry-up a few mornings or a take-away on a few evenings.
Suddenly your “Ah sure it’s Christmas!” attitude has added a few inches to your waistline. So, be mindful about what you are eating and drinking and how often you’re indulging. Think about it before you go out or go visiting, or before you pile on a second helping of roast potatoes! Also be mindful about plying other people with food and drink, hospitable though it may be! Be aware if you are the feeder not to put pressure on people.
Are you a big spender at Christmas? On what and on whom? Why? Are you spending outside your means? Is this causing you distress in the aftermath of Christmas? Are you paying large sums of interest on credit cards or short-term loans? Is your spending rational, or do you tend to run away with yourself?
Like Santa, you should make a list.
What do you NEED to buy? Budget and plan in advance. A good idea when shopping is to take cash with you. Psychologically handing over cash makes you more conscious of your spending, whereas cards are a bit like “not real money”. Think about leaving the a card or cards at home. Agree a budget with some family or friends, or club together with others to get a “decent” present rather than buying more smellies and chocolates.
If you are buying for children that are not your own, check with the parents. Remember that if you are splashing out on big pressies for your nearest and dearest, that they may feel like they have to reciprocate, and they may not have the means to do this. Your generosity could in fact be putting others under financial strain and I’m sure none of us want to do that.
Now I know I sound like this guy
And I don’t meant to. By all means eat, drink and be merry. Relish the joy of spending time with family and old friends. But don’t forget about yourself in all the fun and madness. What kind of Christmas do you want to have?