Create your Happy Space this Christmas
Getting drawn into the frantic Christmas rush is easy as the wintery chill freshens the air, shop aisles get decked with bows of holly and tinsel; and the weeks between now and Christmas Day fly past. We had eased out of lockdown by this time last year only to find ourselves right back in it on the weekend before Christmas Day. Fingers crossed; this year Christmas will be as it was prior to 2020. There’s just so much on offer in terms of events, shows, markets and shopping, it would probably be a good idea to try and pack in as much as feasible sooner, rather than later.
One way or the other, you can build your happy space this Christmas by doing these five things to enrich your and your family’s experience of the season, find added joy, peace and build your resilience. And by the way, your happy space is not just for Christmas. You can take the theme into the new year and continue to build on it throughout 2022.
Working on family relationships is so important to your happy space
We’re prone to believing we know everything we need to know about our kids and spouse, but the reality is that we don’t. I was well into adulthood when my dad shared an experience he had when he was 16 that I didn’t know about – it blew me away and piqued my interest in learning more about his childhood. Spend some time cosying up to your spouse and with each of your kids just to talk. Talk with them, about them. Pair up with fresh eyes, a curious attitude and a desire to discover something new about them. It’s an opportunity to also share something about yourself that they don’t know.
You might also want to reach out and reconnect with relatives with whom you’ve lost touch - including those where relations have become strained.
Avoid spending too much
This is a big one for many people and definitely takes the ‘happy’ out of happy space. Over extending financially is a sure way to lose your peace, usher in worry, anxiety and low mood once the festive season grinds to a halt and the new year soberingly gets going. You want to still be savouring the after taste of all the positive feelings, happy discoveries and good memories of Christmas well into 2022. The last thing you’ll want is to be financially worse off than you might have been in 2021. The only way to pre-empt that is to protect your financial resilience by not overspending or getting further into debt this Christmas.
There are a number of ways to keep within budget during Christmas. Here’s an interesting one. I have friends who don’t buy Christmas presents for each other or their children. This was a new idea for me but I’ve come to understand, even respect, their way of thinking. Their children are very well cared for, they receive gifts throughout the year as rewards, for birthdays or sometimes even just because. Plus, a lot of money is spent on extracurricular activities year-round, such as: swimming, ballet, violin, piano and karate lessons. Christmas is the opportunity to reflect and appreciate all that mom, dad, aunties, uncles, grandma and grandpa do for them, as opposed to getting more ‘stuff’. Radical idea, but it seems to work for them.
Make sure that with all the festivities going on, you also get plenty of rest and deep sleep. The more rested you are, the better you will enjoy the season. It is one of the key aspects of good self-care and has many benefits for you not just your body, but also your mental health and wellbeing.
Embrace authentic simplicity
Don’t concern yourself with what the Joneses are getting up to. Social media (as well as some of those glossy magazines) is notorious for projecting unrealistic images, which make so many people feel badly about themselves. Images of picture-perfect scenes of gleaming white teeth beaming from the ecstatic smiles of families, set in enchantingly dressed up living rooms or dinning at sumptuous, candelabra graced dinner tables, are the order of the day this time of year. Somewhere deep down inside, as grown-ups, we know it’s a mistake to compare ourselves, our family or where we actually live with any of these; and yet on some level, we do. It impacts on mental health, is a major source of discontent, and dissatisfaction with life, among a host of other unhelpful feelings.
The antidote is to find contentment in the life that you do have. Enjoyment and satisfaction can be found in things that aren’t material. Yes, the new phone, gadget, toy or jumper are all good fun. But the simple things such as laughter, chatting, watching TV together or just lounging quietly in each other’s company are really where it’s at when it comes to creating (and sustaining) your happy space.
Reflect on the positives
Be mindful and present in every moment, but also reflect on the good things about the past year. Take turns with the family listing the positive experiences you’ve each had as well as those things you appreciate most about each other. This is a great way to bring everyone together and make the festive season cheerful.
Michelle Johnson is a writer, mindset and resilience coach and author of Bouncing Back: Your Mental and Emotional Resilience in the New Normal and Beyond, published in July 2021 by Conscious Dreams Publishing. Available in paperback and kindle on Amazon, The Book Depository eBook, and other good bookshops. Follow Michelle @mshmjohnson on Twitter /Instagram– DM for signed copies.