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From the desk of Coach James

Five ways to increase the joy in your Christmas

That time of year is here, we all knew it was coming, and then suddenly twinkling lights and synthetic trees cluttering your living space, it’s all around you – assaults on the eardrum as Last Christmas and something about a bell on a sleigh-ride, disturb the tranquillity that never was – it’s Christmas time. The world seems to get even busier, more frenetic, the natural progression of the season seems to be lickety-split. This is the time of year when popping out to the shop for a pint of milk, requires military operations.

As a child, Christmas time was full of wonder and excitement, as an adult, maybe not so much? The jostling around the shops, knowing what to get for people becomes an overwhelming event. If you simply asked the person what they wanted for Christmas, it might make life a lot easier – but nobody has time for that, at least not in my household. The smell of freshly made mince pies and mulled wine [very sweet I might add] seems to go to the head, and nobody knows what day of the week it is any more, does it really matter? Even the TV is at it, telling you what you need to make it great this Christmas. “All our party food cooks at the same temperature,” blasts the Tesco commercial. Can you really afford to buy everything that the TV dictates you will require to make this year’s Christmas a magical one?

Did you remember to order a big enough turkey, large enough to feed your family of sixteen, on 25th December? Oh wait, Tim and his partner will come too, plus their four delightful spoilt children. It’s all very stressful, and this is just the planning stage. Lord help us; it’s your birthday, and I’m the one having a trauma, how does that work?

If any of the above sounds familiar, welcome to the modern age of materialism, the only time of year where it is acceptable to go bankrupt on plastic, with 365 days to pay it back before doing it again.

Christmas is a time for joy, yet so many of us find it stressful. The gift buying, the card writing, the noisy music… Mariah.

Here are five ways to increase the joy in your Christmas.

1. Relax. Everything will work out just fine. Easy for some to say, but take a deep breath and centre your thoughts for a moment, and begin again. I have written before that in a heightened state of anxiety/stress we make poor choices. It is better to be calm and collected before making any rash decisions.

2. Don’t send the Joneses a card. Keeping up with the Joneses can be exhausting, especially if it’s done pay cheque-to-pay cheque. Our society is obsessed with looking cool, having the latest iPhone gadget because everyone else does. Is it cool to be the same as everyone else? I think it’s cool to be different – but that’s just me. If your child wants a certain [expensive] gift simply because all the other kids have it, maybe teach your child that having the same stuff is not cool anymore. At the end of the day, does keeping up with the Joneses win you a prize? Nope. Being happy and contented with what you have, wins you peace of mind.

3. Escape to the country. Getting away from the situation always seems to help. If you live in the city like me, I’m surrounded by twinkling lights and swarms of indecisive shoppers, who don’t know where they’re going, and become part of an obstacle course every time I venture out the front door. Having recently come back from a week away at a country estate house, it was so restful to be in the quiet. Studies show that when we overload our senses [which Christmas sure does] that our brains tire quicker, and we go into fight or flight/stress mode. Spending time in the quiet, away from the hustle, helps our nervous system to reset, back to equilibrium, our normal state of being.

4. Say it with I love you. The media and TV adverts are pretty good at making us believe

we need to spend lots of money on gifts to show people how much we love them. We often feel that we didn’t buy a big enough gift, or so and so bought more gifts that I did for Mum, so it may look like I don’t love her as much. Can you buy love in a box, on Amazon – you probably can, but that’s not helping my cause. That is just the way we think and perceive it to be. Psychology says that if you tell someone you love and appreciate them, they’re likely to feel it more than the gift you got them, that they can’t wait to return after Christmas.

5. Let your hair down. I have studied people and psychology for many years. One of the biggest things I have learned is that if the model of the world in our head, does not match up to the exterior world, we get uppity/stressed. I don’t know that many people who live in their ideal world, I know a few. Make the best of the moment, live for today. It might not be going to plan, but love yourself enough to not get uppity, stressing yourself out. You only get one life, are you really going to ruin it because it does not marry up to the illusionary plan in your head?

I hope some of my points are of use to you, and help you to enjoy Christmas? However you are spending the holiday season, enjoy it. Happy Christmas.

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