First up, I won’t apologise for writing this blog in early November. Proper planning prevents
p…oor performance, and all that.
By the time you read this it is likely you will have crossed the annual point of no return: someone, or – most likely – something – something shaped like an advert or a sandwich in a red packet – will have tried to influence you that it is time to care about Christmas.
It’s like coming into contact with someone with a cold. You may not be sneezing tomorrow, or the day after, but those germs are in the air and at some point before the year is out you will be there blowing your nose with the best of them.
At what point you let yourself succumb is partially down to your control. In the case of the common cold, you can eat more satsumas. In the case of Christmas, you can avert your eyes every time you see a clementine, stick your fingers in your ears and sing “Just let me have November” to the tune of the Dam Busters March.
An NPW Self Curious Christmas will see you get to the big day feeling present (best self-improvement-festive-special pun EVER), and not burnt out, and having made good choices that have not just delivered to you a sorted day on 25 December, but a day you’ve got the best out of on every one of the forty seven days between now and then.
So, here is the Christmas golden rule: hone your bullsh*t buzzer, and use it.
Advertising can be really helpful. It can give you ideas and let you know about delicious lunchtime solutions for damp and drab Tuesdays. My favourite thing about winter is retreating into my various cocoons, whether that’s a big scarf on a cold train (why is it always trains?!), a mug of hot tea, a run with friends on a frosty Saturday morning and – oh yes – a pigs in blankets hot sandwich. All these things can happen in November.
But here’s the thing: a pigs in blankets hot sandwich is not Hygge / comforting / November self care-chic because it’s Christmassy. It’s because it’s hot and salty and warm. And that’s what we all need in winter. Things that feel good, because let’s face it, it is a darn sight harder to get up and out of the door to our daily grind when it’s blowing a Hooley and we have to de-ice the car.
When people tell you you “have” to do something “because Christmas”, get your big red buzzer of BS out, and hit it real good. Call them out. You don’t have to do anything, and neither do they.
People will tell you a variety of things in the coming weeks:
“I have to get the kids’ teachers’ handmade presents sorted”: nice, but not if it means staying up til 2am on a school night while the kids are asleep upstairs. Unless you’re in training for next year’s Bake Off.
“I can’t believe they’re doing gingerbread mocha chai brulee lattes already!” then, two days later, “I just have to have my gingerbread mocha chai brulee latte – only forty five days left and then they’ll be gone!”: *BUZZ* Listen to your taste-buds after the first one – it’s a sugary mess and best saved for the morning after the office Christmas party when your hangover and your karaoke alter ego deserves it.
“I haven’t done the Christmas cake yet so I’ll have to do that this Sunday before I start on the mincemeat and hand-sewn tree favours”: If you want to spend your Sunday doing this, go right ahead – enjoy it, put the Spotify Festive Shindig playlist on – rock around the Christmas tree. If it isn’t fun, or you’re already exhausted… *BUZZ*
Hopefully you’re getting the hang of it.
The great thing about the BS buzzer is that you can use it in your head while saying something nice and supportive to your frazzled friends, family and colleagues:
Loved one: Auntie Betty says she’s coming on the 21st, which I suppose we could just about manage if I sleep in the bath…
(in head): *BUZZZZZZZZ*
Out loud: It’s great that Auntie Bee is coming – she’s my favourite. Does she know you’d be sleeping in the bath? Maybe she could stay four doors down… at her own house?
So: give yourself permission to do all the wonderful things that are available to you at this time of year. Eat red-boxed sandwiches, knock back those gingerbread mocha chai brulee lattes, and make beautiful hand-shaped cookies in the likeness of your cat for your third cousin twice removed.
But do it for you. Do it for the feels. Do it because you love your fellow woman and man, and want to share some of your awesomeness with them.
Claire Eadington geeks out on workflow management, performance and wellbeing. Claire’s TEDx talk about barriers to performance for exceptional women kicked off the 2017 TEDxWhitehallWomen event in London.
Claire writes a weekly blog, Self Curious, on NPW’s website.
Read more blogs here.