Slowly Does It
If the festive season leaves you feeling frazzled, it’s time to lighten your load, writes Paula Goodyer.
Pace yourself: don’t let the festivities leave you frazzled.
Have a love-hate relationship with Christmas? You’re not alone. You might like the chance to connect with your nearest and dearest, but not all the stress of shopping, planning a menu, house-trimming and giftwrapping, especially if you’re also busy working at your day job right up until Christmas Eve. But organising it isn’t the only tough part about the festive season; for some people, navigating prickly family relationships at that time adds to the pressure.
One way to lighten the load is to make things easier for yourself, say psychologist Frederika Davies of Relationships Australia WA, and Brooke McAlary, author of
Slow (Allen & Unwin, $32.99), a realistic guide to living a simpler life at a slower pace.
You don’t have to get together before Christmas.
“It’s a nice idea, but in reality, all that socialising can make us feel pressured and we become too stressed to really enjoy it,” says McAlary. Reschedule engagements for after Christmas, when the pressure is off.
Make difficult decisions early.
Leave plenty of time for potentially tricky negotiations, such as who’s hosting Christmas lunch or where the children will have Christmas
‘Be open to doing things differently as your family’s needs change.’ Frederika Davies, Relationships Australia WA
dinner in separated families. “It’s awaytoavoidlast-minutetension,” says Davies. “Be flexible and open to doing things differently as your family’s needs change.”
Share the load. Write prioritised to-do lists and delegate tasks to family members .“People can’ t read your mind,” says Davies. “Ask for help if you need it.” Simplify the shopping. Online shopping for gifts and food can be a blessing for the time-poor, says Davies. “Don’t feel you have to give people things,” adds McAlary. Consider giving a voucher for an experience (a movie or hotel stay, for example), or donate to a charity on their behalf. Think creatively when decking
the halls. We have all seen the discarded decorations tossed onto council clean-up piles when December’s tinsel turns into trash. This year, look to re-use or even create your own personalised decorations. “We would actually buy ourselves more hours if we didn’t spend so much time buying stuff that we then have to dispose of,” says McAlary.
“Most of my decorations came from my parents’ house and are 30 years old,” she adds, “but they are special because they only come out once a year.”