Slowly Does It

If the fes­tive sea­son leaves you feel­ing fraz­zled, it’s time to lighten your load, writes Paula Goodyer.

Australian House & Garden - - News -

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.”

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