Whilst part of me can’t quite believe how 2014 has whizzed passed, another is hoping to savour its final month and all the joy December can bring.
I also know it’s a time poor month as we’re often pulled between work deadline, gift hunting, socialising with friends and family and our own wellbeing. So I’m jumping straight in with my top 10 things I’ll be doing this December – join me if you like!
1. Plan your work down
Nothing sucks more than having that nagging little voice in your head over the festive season that reminds you of some pressing piece of work or a deadline or something hanging on to your to-do list.
My tactic is to plan it down. “Do what Sarae?” I deliberate seek end points or at least a convenient pause in tasks and assignments or negotiate deadlines that mean I get real clear head space to focus on the fun stuff. Another tactic is to do a small work binge to get ahead of myself – I find this more satisfying if I’m honest.
2. Set a budget
Avoid that mid-January financial black hole when your bills and statements arrive, workout what cash you have saved or spare for December’s little additional spaces. Gifts, travel tickets or petrol, drinks and dinners all quickly add up.
Alternatively, host an event and ask people to bring something along – and not just a bottle – why not some nibbles, something sweet, a game, a playlist or a decoration.
3. Fit in some “me time”
A long bath, a good read or a bike ride. Whatever works for you to recharge your body and mind. These precious and important moments often get squeezed out and we start to feel it as short tempers, sore backs and overeating pile on.
Maybe try chunking it up – shorter higher impact hits of “me time”. Do 3 x 10 mins online fitness classes instead of the hour one down the gym ( I like these ones.) A pre bedtime pamper, rather than the full blow salon event. Time with a new album or an audio book on the move.
4. Treat your body with respect
With all those yummy season foods popping up at meetings, coffee catch-ups and pre dinner, it’s easy to find our stomachs and bodies affected. Waistbands a bit tighter, not sleeping properly and skin or hair bad days can all be the knock-on effect of too much chocolate, alcohol and processed foods.
Diarise healthy eating and drinking days or take a packed lunch or late afternoon snack to boost your body and brain. And don’t forget plenty of water! Dehydration slow your mind, decreases your energy level and zap your mood.
5. Get crafty
Make your own gifts or decorations with friends over a glass of Glühwein or mince pies with kid. I’m being inspired by Martha Stewart and Delicious magazine for foodie makes. For decorations and wrappings, I’m a big fan of Lia Griffiths’ downloads (ok so a bit of cheating helps those of us with two left thumbs.) I’m hunting down pine cones to make those cute owls!
6. Make the most of seasonal extras
Think about things that happen only at this time of year – a carol concert to sing yourself silly, a dance off or fairground. Since spending a winter living Munich, I’m easily persuaded to go to a Christmas Market and ice-skating rinks. (My favourite one in London is at Hampton Court, just so stunningly gorgeous).
And shout your heart out at a pantomime….. He’s behind you!!!!!
Decorate Declutter your home
A lot or a little, this is a chance to put away (or give to charity) any trinkets, art and books that you no longer really love and to do a spot of decluttering – think of it as making space for new ones 😉 And while you’re at it, maybe it’s time for those cupboards or the top of the wardrobe or under the stairs….you know the place.
Take unwanted, good condition clothes to a homeless shelter – you’ll make their work easier and someone else’s winter warmer.
Oh and get a tree – any size works. And a star. And tinsel. And some baubles. And twinkling lights. And…….
8. Give back to your favourite charity or community
An extra pair of hands can really help out a shelter, charity shop or church concert. Delivering a goodie bag or hamper to a local old dear can bring a smile to their day.
Adopt a granny or monkey scheme exist all over the world and for a few pounds or dollars a month, you can make a difference. Ethical charity gifts could also be the solution to those hard to buy for people. Most charities offer something – you might try this UK specialist site for one stop shopping – I’ve sent library books, randy rams and school places to family and friends before.
9. Be generous and wholehearted
The festive season can be hard going for many of us or our closest people. It could be the first Christmas and family gathering after a sad event. It could be an anniversary of an unpleasant event or bring back a bad memory from previous festivities. Equally, it could be something non related to the season – life dishing out a bit of the rubbish stuff.
Regardless of whether it’s ourselves or others that finding it hard going, it’s so easy to get hooked into frustration, blurt out something or step out of the situation all together.
Take a leaf out of Brené Brown‘s book – consider this an opportunity to offer wholehearted empathy and compassion. Don’t shy away from the fears, pain or vulnerability we’re sharing. Pause. Connect at a human level. Express your appreciation of the emotion. Ask or offer help – a daily chore, some time out, a thoughtful note or quote. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive nor fix the issue. Knowing you’re not alone, you’re loved and worthy of love is enough to help change how you feel.
10. Review your 2014 and look ahead to 2015
OK that’ a chunky one – too much for this b-mail 🙂 I’ll write more on this next week and provide some templates to get you moving. My one ask of you is that you start to reflect, reminisce and ponder how 2014 has been for you.
So, tell me what’s on your December to do list? Fun? Work? Friends? Share your top ones here so we can join in! Or perhaps you’re concerned about how the month will run – let me know, my compassion is yours.