BEAT THAT OVERWHELMED FEELING
Tips for coping with this very busy time
There’s no denying that one of the most exciting times for families, can often be their busiest. Christmas , the end of the calendar year and the start of summer holidays combined mean there is lots to achieve in a short time. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it feels like our diary entries have quadrupled overnight. We spoke to three experts; an author and blogger, a time management professional, and a nutrition expert to get their tips on coping with – and enjoying – this extra busy time.
Don't send Christmas Cards - send 'Happy New Year' cards
Instead of getting to the first week of December and freaking out because 'oh my goodness we need to take a family photo ... and then get it printed on some cards ... and then I need to write those cards AND get them into the post within a week else they won't get there before Christmas' ... how about - don't! Why not take a huge load of pressure off by waiting till (late) January and send 'Happy New Year' cards instead?
Make sure you move your body every day
This has two major benefits. The first is mental - if you're feeling a little frazzled, simply getting out of the house and going for a 10 minute walk is guaranteed to bring your arousal level down several notches. It will also make the difficult people and stressful circumstances that are part and parcel of this time of year a bit easier to deal with. The second is that we tend to overindulge at this time of year and at least a little of that overindulgence can be offset simply by making sure we move our bodies for 30 minutes each day.
Ditch the guilt - just be mindful when you eat
Speaking of overindulging, gosh that brings a lot of guilt with it doesn't it? So how do we avoid this guilt? Just exert some selfcontrol right? Develop some willpower?
No. This is such a bad time of year to try and call on our finite sources of willpower. Try this instead: eat the damn cake. Cut yourself a slice, place it on a plate, and then, giving that lovely piece of cake your full attention, eat it. Simply being mindful while we're eating at this time of year, and giving what we're eating our
full attention, is a really easy way to stop with the overindulging. Try it. You'll be surprised what a difference it makes.
Don't think, just do
A chief cause of overwhelm at any time of year is options - things like 'should I empty the dishwasher now, or later?', 'should I get the clothes off the line now, or later?'
Too many options equals too many decisions and too many decisions make us tired and frazzled. A super-fast way to remove decisions from our lives is to tell ourselves that if something is going to take less than 1 minute, do it now. So wash your coffee cup and put it away. Empty the bin. Go get that glass of water. Don't think, just do!
Don't try and fit in too many things - make life as simple as you can.
If you’re finding the family is getting tired – parents and children – could you possibly be trying to fit too much in? Other external hobbies, sports and interests can be picked up in years to come. We don’t have to do everything, and our kids won’t be disadvantaged if they don’t do as many sports and after-school activities as some of their mates. Children need time to chill, even do nothing. It’s unhealthy for them to be always organised within an inch of their lives.
Don’t be a perfectionist.
One day I found myself saying to a wise friend, ‘Sorry the windows are so dirty. I had the grandchildren over yesterday.’ ‘They’re not dirty windows, Robyn,’ she said. ‘They’re love marks.’ What really matters in your life? Would you rather have a sticky, messy house, with the love and joy of these children and the rich and busy life you lead, or a clean but empty house? There are plenty of years to tidy up, once they've left home. Work out what is non-negotiable, get some family agreements, and let go of unrealistic expectations.
Start a 24 hour box.
Follow the example of Catherine, a mother of five, a dairy farmer, a part-time teacher and also much involved with community activities.
‘I got sick of tidying up after my children so decided to start a 24-hour box. The deal is, if I find anything lying around it goes in the box. After 24 hours, if no-one has claimed it and put it away, the ‘abandoned’ property goes in the rubbish.’ Once the system was fully in place only a few precious items had to be thrown out before the lesson stuck. Now everyone takes responsibility for their ‘stuff’ and the house keeps pretty tidy.
It’s ok to say no.
Don’t feel guilty for saying no to a few parties or gatherings. It is not uncommon in the weeks leading up to Christmas to have two events on one night, and you spend your time rushing between the two and not enjoying either. People will understand that you can’t make it to every BBQ or event, sometimes it is just nice to say no, and get a good night’s sleep.
Remember what you are grateful for.
It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the approach of Christmas. Instead of feeling stressed by all that needs to be done, try and see it from the other side. Remind yourself how blessed you are to have people to buy presents for, or food you need to prepare and the means to do so. It is hard to feel stressed when you feel gratitude. Being grateful is to be truly present in life, being in the now and realising what an incredible gift life is. There are a lot of lovely herbs that you can use to support these feelings. Seek a health professional’s advice about using Withania for some additional adrenal support. As busy as you may be, we cope so much better with challenges when we take some time for ourselves. Even just 15 minutes in a café (having a green tea of course) with your book of the moment or a magazine you love, can leave you feeling refreshed and re-energised. Taking time out for you will allow you to be more present and relaxed with your family.
This time of year can be a time where we tend to indulge in too much alcohol and ‘party food’. Maintaining a whole food diet and reducing your alcohol intake will do wonders for your stress levels and keep you glowing and looking great in the Christmas photos. Eating a nourishing dinner before heading to events is a great way to reduce the temptation to snack on too many canapés. Be sure to keep track of how much alcohol you are drinking. The World Health Organisation recommends not to drink any more than two standard drinks per day with at least two alcohol free days per week. However many cancer organisations around the world endorse the statement that if you have family history of cancer then there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. Try swapping your alcoholic drinks for sparkling water with lime or fresh raspberries. Serve it in a wine glass and enjoy knowing that you are doing something that serves your health and doesn’t take away your shine.
Remember it is what you do all the time, not what you do some times.
Food is such a big part of celebrations so it is ok to make a few exceptions during this time. In between celebrations make sure you amp up the plant content of your diet to support your body with the nutrients it needs to look after your body. A green drink in the morning is a great way to support your health and to provide your body with a big dose of antioxidants to help minimise the damage from alcohol and nutrient poor party foods. Try having a smoothie packed full of greens, nuts and seeds or a juice made from vegetables like kale, spinach, ginger, and beetroot. Kelly Exeter is a writer and reformed over-committer – she blogs about this at A Life Less Frantic. www.kellyexeter.com.au. She is the author of the book Your Best Year Yet, where she looks at the life lessons she’s learned the hard way, sharing 7 simple ways to shift your thinking for the better. Robyn Pearce reckons she’s had the best possible background for running a time management business; “I really do understand how it feels to be out of control!” First she was a librarian, then a farmer’s wife and mother of six (including an intellectually handicapped foster son until he was 16), then ended up a solo mother on a benefit. After a few long years she decided to fight her way out of the poverty trap and became a very successful real estate agent. Now she shares the skills she has learned along the way. Find out more at www.gettingagrip.com
Dr Libby Weaver is one of Australasia's leading nutrition and wellness experts. She is an international speaker and best-selling author of Accidentally Overweight and Rushing Woman's Syndrome. Her latest book The Calorie Fallacy: Stop Dieting and Start Nourishing is designed to help you stop dieting and start living. Rather than getting bogged down continually counting calories, Dr Libby encourages us to understand our bodies, how they work and what they need. She takes a truly holistic approach to health and well-being.