Stress less Christmas #3: stopping the shoulds

How to stop the shoulds this ChristmasAs we hurtle through the last week of November, I thought it might be a good chance to put the brakes on before we hit December and ask … how are you feeling right now? As you sit contemplating the full social calendar, the shopping and planning that needs to be done, alongside all the day to day responsibilities like work, end of school functions and household upkeep … how are you feeling?

If you have time, sit with your feelings for a little while. What’s nagging you? What are you excited about? What would you love to do if only you had the time? Jot a few notes to get those nagging worries out of your head and to establish a few things you could do for yourself to help you get through the next month as calmly as possible.

After my last post on Christmas gift giving, I was starting to freak out that I wasn’t following my own advice and filling out my Christmas Gift Giving printable and getting a wriggle on with my Christmas shopping. Silly, hey? The stress less Christmas advice giver wasn’t taking her own advice! I caught myself getting caught up in these thoughts and instead of letting the inadequacy fester, I decided to print out the damn printable and get the list out of my head and onto paper. I instantly felt better about it and more in control of the situation.

I find that at this time of year, the ‘shoulds’ can sometimes get louder and louder – like you ‘should’ buy all the stuff on the ‘santa’ list, that you ‘should’ accept every end of year function invitation and that you ‘should’ stress yourself silly over making it a magical time of year for your kids, complete with complicated Christmas craft. If you genuinely love and can afford to do these things, then that’s great. However, if you hear yourself saying ‘should’ a lot, it’s time to take a step back and reassess those Christmas values.

I caught myself ‘shoulding’ today when I was out shopping. I had bought a couple of carefully chosen gifts for some loved ones and I was worried, despite spending up to my budget, that they would be considered too ‘small’ a gift. ‘I should get them something else as well’ I said to myself. I caught my thought as it ticked through my head and I realised that I was only considering buying more gifts as the gift itself looked small, even though it wasn’t cheap, and I risked going over my budget just to make the present ‘look’ more expensive or generous. It’s so easy at this time of year to fall into people pleasing habits and doing things just for show.

I was so happy I caught myself and I looked at the gift in my hand and knew that though it looked little, that I’d chosen that gift especially for that person and that hopefully it would bring them happiness. I let go of that should and left it behind in the shop and walked on feeling lighter, budget intact.

It’s a trap I find myself falling into with the kids, especially. Buying ‘just one more thing’ so that the stocking is adequately stuffed, ensuring the right level of wide-eyed wonder come Christmas Day, but at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. Stuff you don’t have room for when the boxes are cleared and the novelty wears off.

Do you suffer from an attack of the ‘shoulds’ at this time of year? I’d love to hear how you combat them! 

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