• Manon Raath

How to slow down this festive season... (and actually enjoy it)

I hear it more frequently:

"The festive season is too overwhelming", "I cannot wait for Christmas to be over so I can relax", or even worse "I hate Christmas".

I think it comes from this idea that we have to have everything perfect for Christmas. Throw in the exhaustion from a very busy year, bucket loads of cash for decorations and presents, kids with too much energy and just the general frenzy that comes with Christmas shopping. To top it all off, for some reason we feel like we need to 'finish' all our home projects by the end of the year, squeeze in the last few socials with friends and tick off the rest of our never-ending to-do list. Deadlines are approaching, people are more rushed and you are feeling more frantic.

Don't get me wrong, I get it. The holiday season can be overwhelming, exhausting, stressful and sometimes even horrible, but it really doesn't have to be.

The holiday/festive season should be a time of slowing down, relaxing, and taking a breather. It should be a time you can savour with loved ones and come out of feeling refreshed and restored.

Here are a few things to consider in order to slow down this festive season and actually enjoy it.

  • Counteract the frenzy

It's easy to get sucked in with all the chaos from marketing campaigns and advertisements that are shouting at you that the 'holidays are almost here!'. It's all around us and it's easy to internalise these feelings of chaos and being rushed.

Counteract the frenzy by slowing down and spending some 'alone' time. Draw yourself a bath, light a candle or two, put on a face mask and just soak in the calm. Or go for a walk outside, read a book, bake a cake. Do whatever makes you feel calm and allows you to breathe. Unsubscribe from all those email lists that constantly tell you to hurry up and buy more.

  • You don't have to do it all

With the end of the year comes the end of deadlines too. For some reason we feel the need to 'finish' whatever project it is we're working on. Maybe because we want to start fresh in the new year? But remember, you don't have to do it all now. Especially not if it's only causing you more stress. Prioritise what you need to have done by the end of the year, and leave the rest for later. Sometimes when you start to prioritise certain tasks, you realise which things aren't important at all.

My parents are renovating their kitchen and initially wanted the whole kitchen done by Christmas. My dad loves woodwork and is doing all the cabinets and counters himself. He soon found that he wasn't enjoying it anymore because he was rushing to get everything done on time. Luckily they realised that they don't have to have it all done by Christmas. They are now doing it section-by-section and are actually enjoying the process, which is why they wanted to do it themselves in the first place.

  • Social less

The festive season can be exhausting, especially because of one's social calendar. From work Christmas parties to club end-of-year dinners, catching up with friends 'one last time before the holidays' and family reunions... constant socialising can be draining, especially if you are more of an introvert.

It's ok to say 'no'. You don't have to catch up with everyone now. You can see them in the new year (which is only a month away). Decide on some boundaries and stick with them. Unplug your devices for a day or two and just be present with your nearest and dearest.

  • Make a to-do list, but make it fun.

You will undoubtedly have a to-do list, but make it fun.

I saw a really nice idea from Kelsey from @mysimplysimple. She put up an advent calendar, but incorporated some of her to-do list items into the calendar.

For example, she had a day of making handmade Christmas decorations, a day of putting up lights, a day for baking cookies (which you can gift to others). Find ways to make your to-do list a fun activity.

Another way I get through my to-do list is to reward myself when I get through it faster. It sounds silly, but it works. I will reward myself with a fun activity (like painting or going to the beach) if I get through my to-do list faster.

  • Create new traditions (that encourage slowing down)

Traditions doesn't have to be big, grand things. It can be something simple, like eating dinner by candlelight during the advent season.

Create traditions that encourages slowing down. Have a card-making evening. End Christmas day with sundowners at the beach (if you are in Australia). Go Christmas light hunting. See who can wear the most ghastly Christmas shirt/jumper... do what works for your lifestyle, as long as it helps you to be present and enjoy the moment.

Christmas is a special time with a lot of meaning. Be mindful of how you spend your time around it. Cultivate a sacred space for you and your family to be restored during this time.

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