The Stresstive Season

I know, I know, but I just couldn’t resist it.

For me, the Festive Season is about being with family and friends – happy faces, twinkly lights, special food, connection.

What does it mean for you? Close your eyes and imagine your perfect Christmas. Now be aware of the feelings that image evokes, and what Christmas often turns into for you.

I love being with people I care about and making loved-ones happy with gifts they’ll enjoy. I love the special atmosphere that Christmas decorations create. And sharing good food with family and friends is one of life’s great pleasures. But that’s as far as it goes. I’m not too concerned about doing it perfectly, because I know the cost of attaining that perfection can be very high and striving for it can become more important than the reasons for doing the things in the first place.

Yet many of us do strive for perfection at any cost, and then Christmas = Stress. Preoccupation with how we, our homes and the food looks to our guests can often take the pleasure out of actually being with them.

Here’s the thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting our home and table to be looking great when our guests arrive, nor with going to all the trouble of making the decorations and food ourselves from scratch, if that gives us joy. But if going to such lengths creates feelings of stress and resentment instead, and we can’t wait for it all to be over, maybe it’s time to check out why we’re doing it.

We spend increasing sums of money and time looking for the perfect gifts in order to give happiness, but how long will that happiness last? Studies show that even lottery winners return to their former levels of happiness, sometimes in as little as a month. So if winning the lottery won’t cut it, what chance do our presents stand? The trouble with material gifts is that after the novelty wears off, they become ‘ordinary’. Researchers have found that people enjoy greater wellbeing and value from life experiences than from material things. Their memory lives on.

The perfect Christmas doesn’t exist. Mine does, for me. And yours can for you, if you think it through. If putting on a feast for 20 with all the trimmings gives you joy, go for it. If you’d like to escape to a desert island but your extended family wants to visit, maybe you could negotiate dates to allow for some alone-time, shared responsibilities for food and decorations, and a cap on gift values.

This year my perfect Christmas will be spent celebrating the birth of another special baby, my son’s first child.

Merry Christmas!


PS – Are you too worried about what others think? Drop me a line below to find out how I can help.

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