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How to have a Stress Free Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be a lovely holiday – friends and family celebrating, joy to the world, peace and harmony – so why do so many people end up feeling incredibly stressed?

Did you know that the suicide rate increases dramatically at this time of year? Also the divorce rate soars in early January. How sad that this season creates so much unhappiness.

I think most of the problems are caused by expectations. You want it to be perfect. You want to feel loved and love in return. You want everyone to get along.

So my first tip is…

Manage your expectations. If you have a group of people coming together, don’t expect the all to get on. There will be friction (especially if there is alcohol involved) so expect it and have a plan to deal with it. That plan could be just to let it go, not to worry about it. It could be to plan an activity or game that will keep people occupied. It could be about mediating and finding common ground – whatever it is , have a plan, but also accept that your plan may not work out how you want it to.

If you are going to be alone you still need to manage your expectations. At a time of year when everyone is talking about how important family is, how great it is to be in a relationship etc etc you need to own your singleness. I’ve been alone at Christmas a few times – sometimes it’s been utterly depressing, sometimes it’s been awesome. That tells me that my happiness doesn’t depend on whether I’m with people or not, but it does depend on how I feel about it. Don’t dwell on what you think it should be, accept what it is and make the absolute most of it. Plan something wonderful for yourself. If you have the money, go away, book a trip, do something you’ve always wanted to do. If you’re broke, get your favourite snacks in, plan a personal pamper day, grab the cosy blankets and a good book/film and enjoy it (all the while thanking your lucky stars that you’re not spending the day running yourself ragged trying to please a load of unappreciative family who will just have a fight and ruin your day anyway)

Which brings me to tip 2

Plan and Prepare. Try not to give yourself too much work to do on the day. It might seem a little over the top, but a little planning goes a long way. Write yourself a list of things that you need to do for YOUR Christmas. I can’t give you a list as everyone’s Christmas is their own, but think about furniture that you need, food that you want, games that you want to play, decorations you want to have, gifts you want to give, how you want to wrap them, people you want to see, cards you want to send. Do as much as you can as early as you can. Leave NOTHING to the last minute. Last minute = stress. Avoid it where possible. Cards can be written, addressed and stamped now. Some food can be prepared and frozen. Online shopping lists can be created. Get on it now – not only will it reduce your stress, but you’ll also feel amazingly smug and well organised when you hear about other people stressing.

Despite what I’ve just said, you also need to remember tip 3

Keep it simple. Your job is not to put on the most elaborate Christmas celebration that has ever existed. You don’t have to handmake soaps in the shape of wrapped Christmas presents, you don’t have to cook like a gourmet chef, you don’t need to buy everyone a uniquely thoughtful gift that speaks to their soul. Sometimes a scented candle or some bed socks are OK. Pre prepared food still tastes great and most people will be happy with the slightly dodgy Christmas TV and a nap after dinner.

Which brings me back to expectations and tip 4 is

It’s also OK to manage other people’s expectations. As a business owner I know how important it is to manage other peoples expectations. If I tell you I’m going to do something, I need to be able to deliver that. If I don’t deliver, I disappoint. If I do what I said I was going to do, then my clients are OK with that. If I exceed what I said I was going to do, everyone is happy. So, underplay what you are going to do and over deliver.

My final tip for today is

Don’t try to do everything yourself. This is a double edged sword. Firstly, by delegating tasks you avoid the stress of having to do everything. That’s a win. The weight of Christmas is not ALL on your shoulders. The other side is that your guest may actually really enjoy contributing to Christmas. It makes them feel involved and gives them a chance to show that they can make something wonderful too. If people offer to help, don’t get defensive. They are not trying to tell you that they don’t think you can do this. They just want to help and to be involved. Let them. Christmas does not belong just to you.


All of these things will help to keep things a bit calmer, more relaxed, under control. However some people will still struggle with stress at this time of year. Please, however you feel, don’t let seasonal stress get to you. If you can manage it yourself- fantastic. If you can’t please get help. There are lots of professionals around who can help you to feel the way you want to feel, to live the life you want to live. As a hypnotherapist I help people all year round, but stress, anxiety and loneliness are more prevalent at this time of year ( and weight loss is more prevalent in January!)

Here’s to your stress free Christmas

 

 

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How to write an effective To Do list (and a Not to do list)

I bet you have a ‘to do list’ – maybe it’s written down, maybe it’s just in your head, but I bet you have a list of things that you want to do.

It could be a list for the day

It could be a list for the week

It could be a list of things to do before you’re 50

It could be a bucket list

We all do it, and it’s not a bad thing. It helps us to be focussed on what we want to achieve and how we will do it. Which is great – up to a point. That point is when the ‘to do list’ becomes a burden. It becomes another thing that’s stressing us out.

So what can we do about it?

Well one of the first things you can do is to prioritise it.

Split your list down into sections.

Start with 3 things that HAVE to be done today.

This achieves a couple of things. Firstly it does that focussing thing again. You will be much more likely to achieve a small list of things that are important, than a great big list of things that you can postpone. Secondly, you will feel better when you start to tick things off that list. That in itself can give you motivation to keep at it. Now I know some of you will be saying that your ‘Have to be done lists’ are much longer than 3 items long, and I’m sure that’s true, but if you really had to put just 3 things down what would they be?

Secondly go with 3 things that you would like to do today.

These are not desperately important things, but things that you would like to get done. If you make it to these things – fantastic, Well done you – you probably deserve a treat of some sort – has someone put the kettle on for a nice cup of tea? By achieving anything on this list you are doing well. You may even be ticking off things that would be on tomorrows must do list – that’s great! You are such a winner!

Thirdly have a Not to do list.

This list is just as important. Maybe the things on it are time wasters – hobby jobs that you do even though you don’t have to. Maybe they are completely unproductive like playing Candy Crush or watching rubbish daytime TV. What ever they are, they are not helping you to tick off the important things on your list. Get rid of them until your to do list is done.

Finally have a Done list.

Don’t forget what you’ve achieved. Celebrate the fact that you have completed tasks that were important to you. If you don’t do this you can sometimes feel that you’ve worked all day for absolutely nothing. If that is how you feel, why would you want to do it all over again the next day? By recognising what you have achieved and the impact that has on your goals you can feel rightly proud of yourself.

So you’ve done it – you have your list. What are you waiting for? Get on with it already!

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How to Say Sorry

im-sorryAs Elton John once sang – sorry seems to be the hardest word.

But it shouldn’t be.

If you’ve done something wrong or have just upset someone – say sorry – it’s often the quickest and easiest way to get past it.

So, bite the bullet, look the person in the eye and say I’m sorry.

Just that – I’m Sorry.

Not I’m sorry that I’m not perfect (that’s passive aggressive and puts the blame on the other person for expecting too much from you)

Not I’m sorry, but ……(that basically means you’re not sorry)

Not I’m sorry that you got upset by what I said (that means you’re sorry for them getting upset where as you should be sorry for what you said)

Not I’m sorry that you found out… (that means you’re not sorry you did it, only that you got caught)

Not I’m sorry, why do you have to keep going on about it (that implies you should be let off just because you have said that you’re sorry)

Not I’m sorry but you were to blame too (blame is not part of an apology – be sorry for your part in it)

Not I’m sorry to have to tell you,,,,,(because it’s just the telling part you’re sorry about)

Say you’re sorry. Say you won’t do it again. Say you’ll try to make it up to them.

Lastly accept when sorry isn’t enough.

Sometimes people just can’t forgive you for whatever it is that you’ve done. When this happens we can feel terrible and the guilt can be devastating. Apologies, when accepted, can make us feel better about ourselves. When they are not accepted you need to find a different way of moving on and letting that feeling go. Self Hypnosis techniques can be really useful with these feelings. If you have feelings you would like to let go of, try one on the self hypnosis techniques I’ve blogged about  (Eye FixationThe Betty Erickson technique, the switch, magnetic palms) and visualise putting something that represents your unwanted feeling in a bubble. When you can see it clearly in the bubble, gently push it away with your mind. Follow it in your minds eye until it disappears from view. You may have to do this several times before you start to feel better, but it’s worth being persistent with.

Hope I haven’t gone on to long…If I did – I’m Sorry

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