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How To Have A Chilled Out Holiday Season

How To Have A Chilled Out Holiday Season

snowman

    Feeling snowed under in the run up to the Christmas?

    As kids we look forward to this time of year. There’s the advent calendar, lights, tree, decorations, school vacations, stocking, a visit from Father Christmas and, of course, the long anticipated presents.

    But sadly, once you’ve grown up, with all the responsibilities and obligations being an adult entails, your Christmas spirit can get snuffed out. Even thinking about the planning, preparation and costs involved can fill you with dread.

    Christmas Stresses

    There’s a lot of pressure involved in the festive season for us grown ups. Typical concerns might be:

    • The expense of travel and gifts.
    • Decisions about where to spend the holidays and who with.
    • Difficulties of spending time with people you don’t see often.
    • Worry about what to wear and who to talk to at parties.
    • Insecurity about what gifts to give and what you’re given compared to other people.

    Ridiculous isn’t it? Christmas should be joyful, not stressful. So it’s time to pare it back to the essentials, make sure there’s time for you and make your Yule cool again. Here are some ideas on how to keep your  Christmas season simple.

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    1. Gifts

    Make a list of everyone you have to give gifts to and come up with practical ways to deal with it. Make a decision to spend sensibly and only buy what you can afford. It’s true that it’s the thought that counts so it’s absolutely fine to give a home-made gift or something you got in a second hand shop.

    For friends or family who live overseas send an online gift voucher. Or do a long distance swap. My brother lives in the UK, I’m in Australia and we each have three children. Years ago, we agreed to buy low value presents for our own kids and wrap them up with tags from their aunt, uncle and cousins. That way we can easily pick things we know our kids will like and haven’t already got plus avoid crazy postage costs. We haven’t bought gifts for each other for years, but I’m looking forward to a phone call or free Skype video call with him.

    For adults

    Think about having a gift free year. Or give a home-made voucher for babysitting, a massage, garden weeding or a special meal you’ll cook them. Because it’s fun to have gifts wrapped under the tree for everyone I tend to get gifts for my husband that he needs anyway like a new shirt, some hot chili sauce or a camping chair. My husband doesn’t want any gifts but the kids like to have something to give him so that keeps everyone happy.

    For children

    Cash is always easy and always popular plus it keeps you out of the shops where you might end up overspending. Small denomination notes of two or four $5 notes with a total value of $10 or $20 will make most kids happy. Or if you want to give them a gift get something cheaper or on sale and don’t fall into the trap of spending twice as much as you need to.

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    For bigger family get togethers

    Suggest organizing the big day so each person only gets one gift up to a certain low value. Then everyone is allocated someone to buy for and can get creative by seeing the best present idea they can come up with for $10. We did this one year and I had to buy a gift for a male friend and came up with the idea of a miniature bottle of rum and a can of coke to mix it with. He was pretty happy.

    2. Family Matters

    Accept that there may be friction at some family reunions or events and decide in advance not to get involved. Avoid other people’s dramas and don’t create your own.

    To achieve this limit contact with people who annoy you and be the person who takes the high road. Vow to set aside your differences for the day or the week. Try pretending you’re the Dalai Lama or Desmond Tutu — then, no matter how other people behave, conduct yourself with grace and equanimity. Challenge yourself to keep it up for as long as necessary and have fun with the new peace-maker you. See if you can surprise your family and yourself with your chilled out behavior.

    Finally, remember, that just because you have to spend a long weekend with your family doesn’t mean you have to pass every minute in their company. Take time out for yourself. Go for a walk or nip off to your room to read a book for an hour. It’s your holiday too.

    3. Food and Drink

    If you’re in charge of food preparation make it simple. Design a basic menu or outline of meal ideas and tell people what you’d like them to bring. Think about who can supply the meat, fish, salad, nibbles and desert and don’t be afraid to ask for help on the day.

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    Or break from tradition with a barbecue or a pot luck meal instead.

    4. Parties

    There’s no need to buy new clothes, especially for a party. Wear your best and newest clothes or the old outfit that never fails to get compliments. Unless you’re an A-list star there’s no shame in being seen in the same thing twice or more.

    Limit your drinks, smile and try to talk to people you don’t know. Have fun and socialize. That’s what parties are for.

    If you’re really not looking forward to a party make polite excuses and stay away so you don’t bring anyone else down. Relax, give yourself a break and save the parties for when you’re in the mood to enjoy them.

    5. Kids

    Manage their expectations. Explain to them that the holidays are for spending time with family and friends and Christmas gifts are a bonus but not necessary. Television is the enemy and if your kids watch TV they’ll have seen many toys they want to buy or be given.

    Look at toy catalogues and go through them with your kids. Mine seem to be satisfied if I acknowledge their wishes, make a note of the things they want by circling them in the catalogue or writing them in a notebook. But I explain that they will only get one or two things and that some things they like are too gimmicky, too expensive or not suited to our lifestyle.

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    For example, all my kids want a computer game you plug into the TV, but we just tell them they already have enough screen time and they’ll have to wait until they can afford to buy them themselves. They accept that and look forward to playing these types of games at their friend’s houses. Their friends are fed up with them already so I feel justified in my choice and am determined not to be swayed by peer pressure. I love my kids and I don’t have to show it by buying them expensive toys that will end up in a landfill.

    Hopefully reading this gave you a few ideas on how to make your Christmas a bit more chilled out. Stay away from the hype, advertising and shops as much as you can and your stress levels will reduce instantly. I realised that just the thought of going shopping was making me feel irritable so minimising shopping is crucial for me.

    There are five of us in our family and we’ll have an auntie and cousin on board for the big day. I’ve got a master list of who’s giving what to who and I’m keeping it simple. We’ll be staying at home in the morning, playing and relaxing, then heading to the beach in the afternoon.

    Whatever you’ve got planned I hope you’ll have a chilled out and fun festive season.

    What are you doing this Christmas and what tips have you got for surviving the silly season?

    More by this author

    Annabel Candy

    Annabel is the founder of Get In the Hot Spot, a blog that helps women in aged 40+ be more adventurous and feel fabulous.

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    Last Updated on October 20, 2020

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

    More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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