Although I don’t celebrate Christmas, there is something special about this time of year with all the colourful, bright lights glowing at night over houses, towns and cities in the month of December leading up to Christmas, and combined with Chanukah aswell, the Jewish festival of lights, which is the festival I celebrated earlier this month, it makes quite a special atmosphere in and around London at this time of year.
However, in the lead up to all the festivities, it can be very overwhelming as our to-do lists get bigger and bigger with all the things we need to get done before the big day, all the food and presents we need to buy, all the chores and tasks we need to get done before the week long break in between Xmas and New Year, so that we can relax and recharge!!!
As a mum, over the past 8 years, especially after having my second child 19 months apart and then my third child 4 years later, I have had to perfect the art of multi-tasking, and although, I have gotten used to it all, it can be very stressful especially when all the kids want my attention at once.
Being pulled in so many directions is hard, I can’t possibly give all my kids all the attention they want all the time, but I can only do my best, and juggle things in the best way I can…. Having so many tasks to do at once does mean that sometimes, especially if I don’t write it down, some things get forgotten and fall off the list whilst the list keeps growing. So it is a real challenge for me (and I’m sure many other mums too) to get those opportunities to declutter the mind, those moments to breathe, as much as I need to, and just being conscious and mindful of when I need to do it to make life easier for myself and to make me a happier, more relaxed person to be around, but I do try and squeeze these moments in when I can. It’s not always easy but I try my best.
Over time, I am becoming more and more conscious of the fact that if I overwhelm myself too much, my mind does get very cluttered and it does affect my mood, so I do have to force this time during my day to breathe (to stay sane!) and to make healthy choices throughout the day where I can to help fuel my energy so I don’t get weak and pass out, which is not a good idea when I know my kids need looking after, and I need to be in a fit state to look after them. Self care has been a huge part of my journey and nourishing myself in the right way so I feel good in myself brings out the best in me so I can function as best as I can during the day.
There is no point in overdoing it then being so run down you can’t enjoy the festive break, so I have compiled a list of key things that will help reduce the overwhelm, and help prepare you for the new year, to help you refocus on what really matters:
– Declutter your mind – breathe and meditate as often as you can!
– Get all your feelings and thoughts out of your head and onto paper eg. a notepad or journal. Expressing yourself without judgement is really therapeutic and helps to clear your head and helps prioritise what’s important.
– Create some kind of routine day (or two even) when you plan and prioritise tasks ahead of time.
– Learn to say “no” to the things you don’t want to do – it’s just not possible to do it all. You will enjoy life more if you do less – less is more!! It can be a headache otherwise squeezing too much in!
– Try and manage people’s expectations on your time and plan some quiet time in your day to reduce the rushing around and stress.
– Choose carefully how many commitments you take on board. It’s so hard when you are faced with lots of new opportunities and you feel you have to take them all up, and along with all of the usual chores and family life admin, it just gets too much, and then it becomes hard to focus.
– Try and think about the things that bring you joy, purpose and fulfilment, and more importantly, make you feel good inside. Doing one thing at a time is a much more calm, valuable and pleasurable experience rather than trying to do a million things at once – when you do lots at once, it is hard to focus on each thing you are trying to do, and you don’t necessarily do all the tasks well though you have done the best you can do.
– Think about all the things you can do to make your life more calm and pleasurable, any colour or light you can add to your life.
During Chanukah, when we light the candles, we make sure we leave the candles lit in a place where it can be seen outside in the street. The idea behind this is that it is not enough just to light up our home, we must also spread light and warmth to the outside world too as well, our neighbours and as far as we can influence and reach.
There is in fact quite a lot of spiritual meaning behind the Chanukah lights, more than just a reminder of the ancient miracle of the oil lasting for 8 days in the temple…. This festival is there to remind all of us to look to the light in our everyday lives, to the miracles that surround us.
The Christmas lights are also there also to act as a reminder to us all to look towards the light, to the good in this world and provide light to one another.
Personally, I think that this shouldn’t just be something we do just for a short period though, that this is something we should really incorporate into and be mindful of in our everyday lives, to find the light, the sunshine in our hearts, that can brighten up our lives and make us feel more joy and contentment, and not get lost in the stress and noise inside our heads, overwhelm ourselves in our everyday lives and miss out on miracles!