Is the run-up to Christmas proving a festive nightmare?
Tina Hodges, founder of Transformation Is For All, helping people to overcome painful times in their lives, has some ideas to help.
Tina, from Sheffield, who is married and is the mother of two daughters and a foster daughter, is an international speaker, writer and coach and is also an ordained minister.
Here are her tips to help keep you sane:
Christmas, a time of year for catching up with family, celebrations with food and drink and giving gifts to those special to you. Right?
For those of us who put in as much work as Santa during this special season, Christmas isn’t all about merriment and goodwill. But fret ye not, for I bear good news!
Here are some simple ways to de-stress those tense situations and maybe even squeeze in a little Christmas spirit.
Seeing family a pressure, not pleasure?
Remember you are not the only one under pressure. Listen to everyone’s potential stresses and strains and find creative solutions to ensure harmony.
Make sure you take time out if you feel yourself getting into eye-twitching mode.
Many problems happen because one person decides on what they think should happen and everyone else has to come along for the ride.
Avoid this by planning beforehand – listening and talking to all involved.
Hosting family stresses the Christmas stockings off you? Irritations can be overcome with creative strategy.
Noisy eaters dining can be accompanied by music to lighten the mood. A secret family rota can assign people to half-hour slots chatting with hard-of-hearing Grandma, sharing photos, school certificates/reports or favourite toys, pictures or DVDs.
Having one-to-one conversations can help those hard of hearing.
See beyond the pressure to Christmases past, where older family may have made positive contributions for you over the years.
Older people may not hear clearly but they love to be useful, so helping in the kitchen or being included in other ways might make them feel valued.
Affording presents tempting you to mortgage the kids? Learn to give what you can.
Draw the line where you can’t afford things and seek a cheaper alternative.
The best gifts are free (or almost): winter walks, roasting chestnuts or marshmallows, Christmas celebrations and music, seeing or speaking to loved ones, trips down memory lane – with or without photos or videos, Christmas TV, homemade food or gifts, Christmas trees and stockings filled, favourite foods or mulled wine.
Make it easier for family or friends when they ask what you want by saying “what you can afford”.
A picture, scarf or toiletry set you don’t need or use is a good way to make use of unnecessary items whilst shortening your shopping list (just don’t give it to whoever gave it to you!). One year we recorded CDs of my daughters’ piano pieces; another, we all sang favourite songs.
For the ladies: lip balm to avoid chapped lips. For the kids (and youthful adults): waterproof gloves stop hands getting wet in snowball fights.
Busy roads and shops making you want to emigrate? Car share when driving, or choose times when traffic is lightest.
Late-night opening can be a blessing but it can also be a curse if it steals away your only unwind time, so prioritise well.
Internet shopping can be a Godsend to save your stress, and have things delivered directly to your loved one if it saves you postage.
Headphones in your iPod can create a world apart from the hustle and bustle.
If you can get yourself to bed early, then the early bird catches the worm.
Watching the weight or balancing the scales leaving a bad taste in the mouth?
Know how much you can eat/drink without it making you heavier, sluggish or unwell.
Hearty soups with lots of veg can keep you slimmer and healthier.
Festive food can be healthy, such as baked apples.
Just because something is staring you in the face doesn’t mean it has to go into the mouth.
Kids bouncing off walls? Develop a ‘Help! I’m Bored’ list and put on it all the things they can do, e.g. make a card, play a game, write a letter, have a friend over, etc.
The internet is full of Christmassy craft ideas for kids, such as making snowflakes from paper or crackers from toilet roll holders.
Enlist kids in the things to do around Christmas, from wrapping presents, addressing cards and chopping veg or baking (if it’s not a stress!).
Facing last-minute prep which causes sleepless nights? Make a list of all that needs to be done, however long.
Underline those things that only you can do.
Enlist help with the others, or make choices that take away extra work.
A shared meal is better than a stressed meal you do on your own.
Gift bags, rather than wrapping paper, make life easier and some shops sell these cheaply.
When it comes to posting gifts, consider vouchers. Not only can you get one to suit almost anyone, they’re light to post and can be spent in the January sales.
Have the confidence to do things differently, but don’t plan anything that may result in more last-minute work when you need it the least.
Remember what you and your loved ones most enjoy about Christmas and plan to make these happen well.
Ending up doing everything? Learn to say “no” where you need to and “Yes, if I can get help with…”
If you are a family, enlist the whole family tohelp. If you are single, find friends who share your values and do things together.
Remember the reason for the season – love being given as a gift to the whole world through Jesus.
Let’s celebrate Christmas love by not taking on more than the spirit of peace and goodwill would want us to take.