Stay sane in the silly season!

Some of us thrive in the end of year chaos that descends at this time. But for others this silly season can be crazy, especially given the personal meaning of Christmas’s fading for many. If you’ve been feeling that one more end of year assembly/awards night/concert or Christmas party might just kill you, here’s 15 ways you could adjust things and stay sane. Er. Saner….

Parties

Set preemptive limits on food and drink. Excess is a fair description of what’s laid on at this time of year, but there’s no need for you to drown in it. Most of us over imbibe mindlessly – we eat or drink because it’s right there in front of us. Decide in advance what limits you’d like to apply – two drinks, one high carb something…? Enter your party mindfully and you’ll likely leave feeling much better (even if you do have some momentary lapses in the middle)!

Drink lots of water. Ha. One of the amused observations I’ve made is that the older you get, the more you appreciate this advice. Drinking water alongside whatever else you’re having keeps you hydrated, therefore feeling better and with more energy. It also fills your tummy so you’ll eat less, and contributes to a lower BAC (blood alcohol content). Bonus!

Don’t stay too late. Well, if you’re not having fun, that is. Give yourself permission to go home after a set time if you’re overwhelmed, bored, too tired or whatever. But in the meantime, make sure you add something positive to the gathering. No clock watching for the entire time you’re there!

Get yourself some sleep. Lack of sleep raises your stress levels, clouds your thinking and decision making and puts you in a bad mood. In fact, one NSW study found that after you’ve been awake 17-19 hours, you function as if you’re at .05 BAC. And that’s without the alcohol! So shut those peepers. It might just get you through the next few weeks.

Presents

Don’t read the catalogues. Especially if you’re low on cash, this will only make you feel worse and want more. Exception: if you’re using them to find something from the next hint.

Write lists. I know, it’s boring. But if you write down the name of every person you want (must) buy a gift for, what your budget is and three things they like now, you’ll save yourself endless hours wandering round shopping centres like a zombie, being bombarded by terrible music and tempted by overloaded racks of expensive but mostly useless stuff!

Limit your shopping exposure – avoid the shops. I guess some people love the crowds, the tacky decorations and the ever skinnier Santas, but if you don’t, combine this idea with the one above. Set yourself a goal or a time limit then get in and get out. This is helpful for both shopping centres and online experiences.

A gift of meaning? Give to those who need it. If you (like me) are horrified by the amount of money spent at this time of year to give even more to people who already have a mountain load, why not donate to an organisation helping those in need? There are so many out there – pick one with personal meaning to you. It won’t compensate for everything else, but it will help both you and others.

People

Catch up with people who mean something to you. There’ll probably be some ‘awkward relationship’ gatherings you cant avoid this silly season, but don’t limit yourself to them. Make a point to schedule time with those who brighten your day, too. After all, we each have our own family – it’s just not always biological. (Next week, I’m doing a post on dealing with those tricky relationships, so watch out for it!)

Initiate. If you’re one of those peeps who feels less loved at this time of year because it seems everyone else is out partying, invite someone(s) out yourself. There’s more of us hanging round doing nothing than you’d think! (And if you’re a kind-hearted soul, consider doing this for the fringe dwellers you know. Just make it simple so as to limit your own stress.)

Positivity

Find or do something beautiful or spiritual. In amongst the crazy you’ll find plenty of opportunities for reflection and quiet. Make use of them. Go look at the council Christmas tree, sit in the back of a candlelit service or take a yoga class. I used to take my kids to Road to Bethlehem – an outdoor, walk through reenactment of the Christmas story. It’s now in 10 cities round Australia, happening soon and good for primary aged families especially.

Start a healthy or helping tradition. Traditions are merely something we do over and over. You don’t have to feed Santa milk and cookies, any more than we still send Christmas cards! Choose something to adopt as your tradition and make it a good one. Or something which helps others. Why not visit your elderly aunts, or the folks in a retirement home? Drop a food hamper to a single mum? Or eat vegetarian from Monday to Friday the week before the big day? You can think of something.

STOP. One reason we feel the crazy and call this a silly season is that the end of year gets so busy. Schedule yourself a stop day between now and Christmas. I don’t mean to do the shopping, get your nails done and buy take away. I mean to sit still, sans people and sans electronic help, preferably outdoors, and let your spiritual side breathe. Radical? Maybe, but very good for you…

Laugh. If the above idea’s a bit threatening, try laughing. It’s also very good for you, and one of the reasons researchers speculate young children may be less prone to depression than adults. Laughing has the same benefits as sex and dark chocolate – it makes you feel good. Most laughing happens in the company of others, so take note.

Simplify. Some of us complicate things way too much. If you’re feeling the overload of expectations or busyness this silly season, look for ways to make things easier. Eat the same meals, drop some of the activities – heck, even give the same presents (hint, money often works!). It’s supposed to be a season of goodwill, so extend some to yourself. The world will keep spinning, I promise.

There you have 15 ways to stay calmer in this sometimes silly season. One for every day between now and the big event. Or, one good ‘stay sane’ idea to adopt this season so every Christmas from now on’s a bit healthier. What do you think?