**THIS IS YOUR TWO-WEEK WARNING**
Christmas is here. There’s no getting away from it. The shops are jam-packed, you can’t get a parking space in a municipal car park for love nor money, every radio station is playing more Christmas songs than is reasonably acceptable and the middle-aged, middle management clones at work are wearing hilarious Christmas ties and socks, because they’re ‘fun guys’.*
*They’re not. You’ll find that out at the Christmas party.
But what about you? You must be exhausted. Making sure you’ve packed a full month’s work into two-and-a-half weeks is stressful, and that includes a couple of days for client parties and your own drunken bash. You’ve battled the crowds and stressed out over what to buy your nearest and dearest, you’ve spent a small fortune on a frankly ridiculous amount of food you only ever buy at this time of year and its dark, cold and gloomy.
It’s enough for one year.
When work ends for the year (for most, on the 21st), it’s time to sit back, relax and recharge your internal batteries ready for a full-on assault on 2019, but how?
Recharging Is Easy, Isn’t It?
Yes and no. Some people thrive on the insanity. They make their own ornaments for the table and tree, they stay up till 2am baking cookies and cakes and all sorts, they nailed the present list in November and they even found time to go through the TV Times to make sure every programme they want to watch has been recorded, even if it means juggling the +1 channels to fit everything in.
But for most, by the time the metaphorical bell rings for the end of term we’re wrecks. Shadows of our former selves.
So what can you do to make sure you don’t tread water through Christmas and ensure your family remember you were actually there…and you actually loved it, every mince pie-filled minute?
Hearing Noddy Holder scream ‘It’s Christmas’ from your speakers has most of us wishing we could reach back into 1973 and shut him up permanently so it’s worth noting that you are allowed to listen to something other than Christmas songs. Whatever gets your groove on, it will relax you.
There’s a Christmas special of virtually every show ever made and with three billion channels to choose from, you’ll definitely find the 1978 Morecambe & Wise Christmas Special. It’s hilarious and gave birth to the phrase ‘they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.’
You will never be stuck for things to do as a family over Christmas. See a panto. Go ice skating. Have a day out in London seeing the lights and the windows. Go to Midnight Mass. Have a junk food and movie night with a Christmas classic like Home Alone, Elf, It’s A Wonderful Life or Die Hard (yes, it IS a Christmas film).
It’s a cliché but most clichés are true – Christmas is all about the giving so how about lending a hand? We focus on ourselves 99% of the year so what about giving up a few hours in a soup kitchen or making a wheelbarrow full of sandwiches and wandering about town giving them out to the homeless? You’ll feel great and you’ll be able to appreciate how lucky you actually are.
There’s a big wide world out there. It might be cold but there’s nothing better than wrapping everyone up warm and going for a long hike in the countryside, punctuated with regular hot chocolate stops and a hearty lunch in a country pub with a roaring fire. Just make sure everyone has two pairs of socks on.
…is closed. You’re off duty. It’s time for you to forget about work for a little while. Don’t look at your phone every five seconds. Whatever it is can wait. Checking email and trying to multitask work and family has the ability to tip you into a ‘fight or flight’ state and if your nervous system establishes it as your default position, it can lead to increases in anxiety and stress.
Resist the urge. It’s a time for family, not colleagues.
Have a good week.