It’s that time of the year again: a time of joy, happiness and togetherness for many, but also potentially a time of stress due to clashing events, Christmas shopping, and the rush to make everything perfect for that Christmas lunch. I’ve put together a list of things that you can do to remain calm and relax yourself, so that you can enjoy this holiday season to the full.
• Take a bath and bring your favourite book •
I always find this super relaxing, especially if I have a cute bath bomb to add into the water. Pretty colours and bubbles always make me feel happier, even if I’m not having the best day. When you’re in the bath, you are able to finally have that time to just relax. It’s also great because you pretty much can’t use your technology – you are taking some time out from the whole world – and you are free to just relax in your own thoughts or read your book. It brings a true sense of peace and enjoyment.
• Turn on a Christmas movie and take enjoyment in wrapping gifts •
When you have a spare evening or afternoon, and have bought several (or all) of the gifts on your list, sit down with a great Christmas movie and get wrapping! Maybe include a hot chocolate (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere) or a cold milo (if you’re down under in Aus), and just slowly go through your gifts. Make sure you have the wrapping paper, sticky tape, scissors, ribbons, and Christmas stickers to write the names on beforehand so you’re all prepared.
This really makes gift wrapping so much more relaxing. I recommend Love Actually; it’s such a fun film and if you’ve already seen it 1000 times (like me), you don’t have to fully focus on it, but it always makes it feel like Christmastime. This way, you can make a fun evening of wrapping your gifts.
A snow globe I made and the beautiful Christmas tree at Galerie Lafayette
• Take a walk outside in nature •
This can be really helpful for clearing your head. It’s even better if you can drive a little way outside the city to the countryside and take in all of the flora and fauna. I really love going on hikes of around 3-4 hours because I can take the time to fully wind down and rest my brain while exercising to make my body feel better too.
I also like to go with Mr Czech because he loves hiking too (I mean, he is Czech after all), and it gives us some time to have some fun chats in a peaceful environment. I think humans are supposed to be in more direct contact with the natural environment than they are in this day and age, and I believe that this may be the reason why many of us are calmed by being around nature. So, even if it’s just one day or even a walk in the park, I really recommend this!
• Be fully engaged in whatever moment you’re in right now •
Whatever you’re doing right now, fully focus on that. If you think too much about a million other things, it’ll take away any joy you may be able to experience in that moment. If you have a lot of concerns or too many things to do, it may help to write them down or make a list. Then, you know that you have your list written down and you can easily focus on one thing at a time. This may be easier said than done, but it is really good for your efficiency as well.
Being focused on what you’re doing at any given time allows you to be less likely to forget things or make silly mistakes, which can be vital at Christmas when you only have a certain amount of time to get things done.
Christmas in the Czech Republic – Veselé Vánoce!
• Don’t take what others say personally – they’re probably stressed too •
At this time of year, everyone can tend to be feeling a little stressed. They may be finishing or just finished exams, preparing for a plethora of Christmas events and parties, and generally gearing up for the busiest time of the year. Try to understand why people may react to things the way that they do, and feel compassion for them. You will feel better, and they will likely feel better too. Finding a sense of peace and joy and sharing it with others will help make everyone’s Christmas even brighter.
• Light some Christmas-scented candles and play some carols •
If there’s one thing I enjoy doing at Christmas, it is staring at the beautiful Christmas tree. Add candles and Christmas carols to the mix, and I’m feeling pretty content and incredibly peaceful. My friends call me a bower bird, and there is good reason for this: I really am attracted to shiny things, which can be a weakness at times. It doesn’t mean that I need to buy the sparkly, shiny things that I see, its just that viewing their aesthetic beauty makes me feel happy inside! So, if you’re anything like me, and you want some peaceful time to yourself, sit back in comfort with a sweet snack, your laptop or a book, listen to those Christmas tunes and appreciate the beauty of your Christmas tree.
A Christmas bauble I made and my Christmas tree from last year
• Have a few drinks with your best friends •
Now, the goal here isn’t to get completely and entirely drunk, but rather to spend some enjoyable time with your friends and just forget everything on your to-do list for a little while. After all, Christmas is meant to be enjoyed, and a good laugh will always leave you feeling calm and relaxed. Going to a nice pub or restaurant is lots of fun and also gives you a chance to try new things or have your favourite meal – without having to cook it!
• Do some Christmas cooking •
Now, I’m not actually the biggest cooking fan out there. However, baking Christmas cookies and sweet treats for Christmas is so much fun. You can be creative and design all sorts of patterns and shapes, and share them with your friends and family. Even if you don’t do the greatest job, it should hopefully still taste good, and the fun is mostly in the process anyway (and the eating, of course!).
• Have a plan – early •
Make plans for everything that you need to buy for gifts, for food, and for cards for the big day. Include anything that you’ll need for what you’re going to wear, and exactly what you need to buy to ensure that you will have everything ready to be wrapped or cooked on the day it is needed. It’s important to have your list working with your calendar as well, as different events will be on different days in the lead up to Christmas. Therefore, it’s good to schedule in when you’re actually going to do the shopping to make sure you’ll have everything ready for when it is needed.
• Make a donation or donate your time to a good cause •
We all know that the spirit of Christmas is the spirit of giving, and seeing a smile on the faces of others because of something you’ve done is one of the most heart warming things you can do in the world. Bringing benefit to those less fortunate than us, or even doing random acts of kindness, may help to change someones day, week, or even their life. It is important to do this at any time of the year, but it is especially lovely at Christmas. Help to brighten others’ Christmases by donating food to a charity so that someone out there can have a delicious Christmas lunch, or making a child feel special through donating a gift under store wishing trees.
• Be grateful for each thing you have, big or small •
Making a list (even a mental one) of three things you’re grateful for each day has been shown to change your outlook within 21 days, and I know this because my Mum went to a positive psychology workshop and told me about it! I also know this because every time I choose to be grateful about things, I always feel better about my life. Our human minds are wired to seek out the negative in situations, and it is so much easier for us to find things that aren’t right or that aren’t going well, and those things can influence our mood so much more. Therefore, it is a good idea that for every negative thing you find about something, try to look for five positive things. Changing your outlook can really change your whole life. Even such little things as a customer smiling at you or thanking you after their purchase, or having that deliciously hot tea at the end of the day can really make you happy. And if you’re happier, you exude happiness and make everyone else around you feel it too. Spread your love and joy, and you will also reap the benefits.