If you’re like me you’ve read that title and practically spat out your tea/coffee/wine/hard liquor. Of course Christmas isn’t easy, it’s stressful and hard work and expensive! But can’t it feel like things should just be easier? The adverts on the telly show a Christmas that’s glowing, soft, warm, indoors, full of the right stuff. Our newsfeeds are either full of other people’s amazing Christmas decorations and/or celebrations or people screaming at us for not caring enough about the latest tragic event in another part of the world*.
Isn’t it all a bit too much? Doesn’t it make you want to hide yourself away?
This morning I found myself responding to a friend’s ‘How are you?’ with this:
I’m drowning in christmas carol services and grumpy/sleepy children (not dwarves!!)… And governor related stuff, and party organising and planning our Christmas service on Sunday and hosting life group tonight… So, procrastinating by being on Facebook…!! Hoping that next week will be less crazy but I seem to have been saying that for the last few weeks now… Oh dear, over-committing strikes again!!
And I realised I need to do something about this. I know I’m chronically bad at over-committing, and it’s something I’ve been working on for the past 5 years, give or take, after an all-consuming meltdown that resulted in me taking medication for 6 months. Why do I over-commit? I think it’s to do with wanting to be helpful and taking on too much because to say No is not being helpful… On Monday I had a phone call from the physio’s office asking if I was able to change my appointment time and despite the sensible part of my brain shouting NO IT WON’T WORK at me (because of a commitment to walking yr 5&6 children from school to the church for their carol service rehearsal) I still said Yes that’s fine, because I wanted to be the one who helped them out!
I’m getting better at it, but this has really underlined to me that it takes a LONG time to break a conditioned habit, and that when I’m tired I’m more likely to fall back into the old ‘Yes’ ways. This is the worst possible time to do this because I’m already tired which means I’m already doing too much *sigh*.
Back to the drawing board, as the saying goes! What can I ditch in order to stop myself from drowning? What needs to be done today and what can wait for tomorrow? Writing things down so that I keep track of what I’m doing and can prioritise tasks more efficiently. Making sure I get some fresh air in my day; that my children get to school and home again; and that I don’t push myself too hard are all key in my management of myself.
Have you got any tips for managing stress at Christmas time? Rachael Newham and the team at Think Twice have got a good list here.
And remember Christmas isn’t easy, it isn’t special and sparkly and lovely and cosy although hopefully there will be moments of this along the way, but let’s be honest with ourselves: There is stress involved for every single one of us, whether that’s keeping to a budget, having to see awkward/obnoxious family, not having family, having to go to parties, not having any parties to go to, and so on. If at any point you feel that you aren’t managing well and need someone to talk to, The Samaritans are always there. You can call them on 116 123 (UK)
*As I write this the people of Aleppo need our prayers, our lobbying, our financial aid, our knowing of the atrocities being perpetrated by the forces of darkness and destruction in which the western world has, in the most distressing way, played its part. May God have mercy on this world.