How to Survive Christmas with your Sanity Intact! – Part 1

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for any length of time, you may know
I share a series of articles at this time of year, written especially to help you navigate and survive Christmas with your sanity intact!

I always receive such positive feedback on this series that it’s now become an annual staple for my readers! If you’re newer here, I hope you enjoy and also find them helpful.

And if you’d like the rest of the series direct to your Inbox, enter your details in the box below (you’ll also receive the 5 Steps Mini Guide.)

So, without further ado…

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

So says the song.


And the lead up to it…

That time of year when things start to get madly busy and crazy-making, especially for us ladies. In addition to our usual myriad of responsibilities we get the added bonus job title:

Chief Christmas Planning Officer.

There’s the Christmas shopping to organise.

Figuring out what to buy for whom.

The Christmas day lunch menu to sort.

The extended family get together the day after Christmas.

School activities and concerts.

Parties and celebrations.

And the list goes on. And on. And on..!

All this in addition to keeping ‘normal life’ on track – whether that’s running our businesses or staying on top of career responsibilities. And of course keeping up with the kids, the home, the parents, friends, etc.

As for our husbands.. ships passing in the night?!

It’s no wonder that when the day itself actually arrives, we often feel exhausted and burned out, not to mention resentful.

Our shoulders physically ache from the added burden we’ve been lugging around like an over-sized Santa sack for weeks!

All we want to do is curl up in a corner somewhere and have a nice, long rest til New Year!!

Quality Time..?

The festive season is when we get to spend extended quality time with our families and loved ones.

In reality it can be a time spent in close quarters with people who’s company we may not particularly enjoy; acting as peacemaker in the face of family conflict, squabbling siblings, etc.

It’s no coincidence, and no surprise then, that the beginning of January is the busiest time of year for divorce lawyers.

The good news is, there is much you can do to feel in control and have the kind of Christmas you want – regardless of how anyone else is behaving!
Here are my Top Five Tips to help keep you sane this Christmas – and come the New Year!

(1) Don’t make your Christmas happiness dependent on other people’s behaviour

Remember this one truth:

You can’t change other people’s behaviour. And it’s not your job to try.

So stop stressing yourself out because you’re worried your husband or your mother-in-law isn’t going to behave according to the ‘Rule Book’ you’ve created for them.

Wanting anyone to be different than they are is just arguing with reality – and reality always wins!

Give them permission, even if it’s just for one day, to be who they are. Consciously decide you’re going to accept them exactly as is – no modifications required. Notice how this makes you feel.

(2) Have ‘Go To’ thoughts up your sleeve

Once you’ve committed to Tip 1, it’s essential to have some ‘Go To’ thoughts at the ready for when your loved ones start to exhibit the kind of behaviours guaranteed to drive you bananas!

Without immediate access to some new thoughts, your mind will automatically revert to default thinking patterns. These in turn will lead to default behaviour patterns that may not give you the results you want!

‘Go To’ thoughts for your husband or your mother-in-law or your eccentric aunt might include:

  • That’s just <name> being <name> – their behaviour isn’t personal
  • Isn’t it interesting that he/she behaves that way, I wonder what’s driving that?
  • This behaviour isn’t about me, it’s about them. What am I making it mean about me and why?
  • I can choose how I want to feel today, regardless of other people – I got the power!
  • I am choosing to feel calm and peaceful FOR ME
  • It’s not their behaviour that’s pissing me off, it’s MY THOUGHTS about their behaviour. What can I choose to think instead that feels better – and is just as true?

(3) Don’t play the Martyr role

One of the reasons we end up feeling resentful at this time of year is because we have taken on the role of making sure everyone in our family has a wonderful Christmas. We may pull it off, if we don’t keel over from exhaustion first! And then we feel resentment when they don’t show appreciation for our gargantuan efforts.

Here’s a secret: When we do stuff for other people, it’s not really for them, it’s for us! Huh?

The only reason we do anything is because of how we think is going to make us feel. The reason you do things for your husband, your kids or anyone else is so that you can feel _______ happy/contented/ nurturing/like a good hostess/a good mum, etc. Insert your own reason.

When you understand this you don’t need other people to be grateful for your efforts. You know you are choosing to do something for somebody else because it makes you feel good.

If you don’t feel good about doing something, don’t do it!

And if you feeling good is dependent on other people being grateful – again, don’t do it – because other people’s gratitude is out of your control!

(4) Ask for what you need

Related to Tip 3 above, us women have a habit of taking on too much and then complaining that we don’t get any help or support.

Ladies – it’s time to lay down our Wonderwoman Capes!

Ask for help when you need it. Make requests. Explain what you need help with and why it’s important to you. When we do this in a calm and rational way, we are much more likely to get a positive response.

When we scream at our husbands: “Well you can do the bloody shopping and cook the turkey, I’ve had it!” he may not be so keen to roll up his sleeves!

Know your limits. Know what you are prepared to do and what you aren’t. Make a conscious choice that you’re going to enjoy Christmas with your sanity and your stress levels intact.

Purposefully decide how you want to feel this Christmas – and align your thinking accordingly.

If the help you request isn’t forthcoming, you have two choices:

You can do it yourself because it is going to make YOU feel good. Or you can choose not to do it.

Either way, don’t hang your Christmas happiness on other people’s behaviour or co-operation.

(5) Be Present

If you’ve followed Steps 1-4, number 5 will be much easier to achieve.

Be fully present and enjoy making those special Christmas memories with your family.

Over to You!

Do you have any tips of your own that help you survive Christmas with your sanity intact? If so, please share them in the comments below.

Note: This blog post is one in a series of five about How to Survive Christmas with your Sanity Intact!
Check back next week for Part 2.


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  1. Wise words as ever Julie. I need to especially watch out for No 3 and the whole Martyr scenario. Because we spend so much time and energy thinking of “the very thing” for our kids and families, it is easy to get brassed off when you ask someone to pass the remote and they can’t be arsed. You want to scream “I just spent £180 on bloody Rhianna tickets you ungrateful little sod” (who IS Rhianna anyway?!)

    As you say, they didn’t ask you to, and the only reason you did is that you know it is going to absolutely blow them away on Christmas morning and you just can’t wait to see her face. Remembering the love with which it was done in the first place, and not the resentment you feel when they have no idea you’ve done it!

    (Haven’t even opened the first door on the Advent Calendar yet, so will be keeping my eye out for the next part of the series!) x

    • Thanks for your comments Lisa, I’m sure most of us can relate!
      Part 2 is in progress now, so I will keep the timely reminders coming! x

  2. Can I share #3 with my Mum or is that not in the Christmas spirit?
    Anyway I’m Mum now, so looking forward to putting these tips into action – my go to thought is Wham’s “last Christmas”!

    • Thanks for your comment Helen. Am I sensing a bit of learned behaviour going on in your family?! ;o)

      Glad you found the tips helpful and yes, some great Christmas tunes are also a must!

  3. Re-reading this a year on has made me realise how helpful this post is. We all have our traditions (or eccentricities?) and remembering to be present in the moment (and not champing at the bit to get to the next part) has helped me slow down and enjoy it. Besides, Mr N does the cooking around here, and he is bloody good at it too! x

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