Tag Archives: Christmas countdown

Debt at Christmas

The financial squeeze on your purse.

Audio duration 05:40   Reading duration 7:00 average.

Before we launch into debt at Christmas time. Yesterday we took a look at Christmas overindulgence and keeping a handle on your choices and portions of food and alcohol, without living to regret it.

I also mentioned the benefits of ensuring you get an adequate amount of restful sleep on the lead up to the Christmas festivities.In my final blog, I’m taking a look at one of the biggest causes of stress over this period, financial obligations – and yesterday I left you to mull over a few questions.

I wondered what you would consider doing differently this year if your personal experience of Christmas debt had left you wishing that you’d planned better financially for this holiday period. Or just to do things differently by starting those conversations now with those you share gifts with, and setting some financial parameters.

What happens if you splash the cash?

Debt at Christmas

Financial panic creates significant stress!

You may say that Fear of Debt at Christmas time is not an easy feeling to tackle. Especially if the ‘cash-cow has already bolted!’

If it’s not too late, then some considerations right now would be putting on the sensible hat and creating a budget. It may also mean having those conversations where you can discuss what is reasonable with a partner, friends or family members.

And that can include the children’s presents too!

Ideas!

Now keeping in mind that I’m not a financial advisor, and just like you could, I’ve been reading sources that give advice and overall it seems that,

Common sense dictates that we would:

  • Set a budget, and decide not to follow the trends or those sneaky advertising campaigns.  Work out who you need to buy for and stick to that list.
  • Have an agreed spending budget with your partner, so neither of you ends up with debt as a result of ‘showing your love.’
  • Avoid impulse buying by planning your visit to the shopping centre during quieter periods. There’s a positive psychological bias to shopping during quiet periods.
  • If you’re using a credit card keep all purchases on the one card, don’t spread out the charges. That way you can keep tabs on what you’re actually spending.
  • Don’t go wild on toy purchases, stick to one or two that you know will retain the children’s interest once the emotion of Christmas Day has passed. Usually an hour or two after getting out of bed!

‘A promise to myself.’

Make a promise to yourself by setting aside funds which means you won’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off. Choose gifts that are meaningful and purposeful for those you love, rather than expensive and financially debilitating.

If you know someone who seems to have everything, would they appreciate a different approach like gifting in their name?  If so Google and alternative web search engines can be used to source – ‘Donating to charities for Christmas Gifts.’ 

Personalised gifts you make yourself. 

Have a peek by clicking here at Pinterest for ideas

Debt at Christmas

I made this myself!

Secret Santa exchange of gifts can be agreed amongst family it doesn’t only have to be for work colleagues.

If you know someone who seems to have everything, would they appreciate a different approach to gifting in their name?  If so Google and alternative web search engines can be used to source  – ‘Donating to charities for Christmas Gifts.’

Seek financial advice from a reputable source.

If you do find yourself running into financial difficulty over the Holiday festivities, then it could be time to seek help.  Do seek advice sooner rather than later when you are at your wits end worrying about how you are going to manage to pay the bills.

You could use your Google or another web search engine to find a list of ‘Non-Profit Credit Counselling Services’ for your country. 

In the UK we many options, including the more well-known Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Click here for debt solution and advisory services Citizens Advice UK

Click here for government UK National debt advisory service on debt consolidation 

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs looking at what could help you and those you love have a happier and stress-free Christmas and New Year.

You may find that applying one or two of these tips from across my countdown to Christmas series very helpful at keeping you on track. With the stamina to get through the holiday period, enjoy time either doing things for yourself or with family and friends.  And that could make a significant difference to your enjoyment and your wallet too.

Even if you focus on just one or two things, the overall effect could be a brilliant Christmas experience with far less stress, compared to those of the past.

The overall message starts from blog 1 in My Christmas Countdown series (click here to revisit)

Click on the links below if you would like to download any of my free resources. And where you can find the documents that accompanied this series:

Good luck and happy holidays!

And thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page

Christmas overindulgence

How to get ahead of Christmas overindulgence

Day 5 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 07:30   Reading duration 9:00   average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind

The story so far in the first four blogs in this six-episode series has included:

  • Expectation and experience
  • Loneliness and initiatives to make it a better day
  • Dealing with difficult people
  • Christmas Fun – perfection!

Today’s blog discovers how we can control Christmas overindulgence.

Christmas overindulgence

Yummy! Just how much means too much?

Never mind the day itself – the lead up to Christmas can have people over-committing to pre-Christmas events, reaching for the alcohol and stuffing themselves with food.  It’s a de-stress, comfort thing! Well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves.

While it’s okay to take a break from moderating our eating or drinking, there is still some wisdom in resisting the urge to overindulge massively.

There’s nothing worse than waking up with the dreaded hangover, whereas excessive bingeing can lead to sickness – not to forget unwanted weight gain.

I guess some people would say what the heck, those extra Christmas pounds can be worked off in the new year. It is, after all, a personal choice how much to consume.

Overindulgence of alcohol though can have some nastier effects not only on oneself but those around you.  That’s why it’s a good idea to learn what is okay to have in moderation and of course don’t drink and drive if consuming any alcohol.

For information on alcohol units, and to help you be more drink aware, please click here. 

Ideas!

Agree with yourself as to how you’ll put the brakes on eating an entire Christmas cake or guzzling a whole bottle wine or ‘mothers ruin’ (in the UK this refers gin!). You could even consider making yourself accountable with timely reminders on your phone, or announce there will be no Christmas overindulgence for you by writing it down and sticking it on – THE FRIDGE OR CUPBOARD DOOR, in your purse or pocket.  Or is that little over-the-top? If so how could you make yourself more accountable for keeping your promise not to overindulge this Christmas?

We can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Anyone out there old enough to remember the Filofax or Leefax?  It was a way to write down your daily schedule and ensure no clashes in the planning.

People with these leather-bound organisers (me being one), would very often be heard to say, “I’ll just see if I have a window in my diary!” These days most people pop their commitments into their phone, or into a diary like Outlook or Google. Reminders pop-up and then we look in horror at the clashes of back to back meetings we are expected to attend.

Keeping track of what your priorities are.

So, if Christmas overindulgence also means trying to ‘frantically’ fit in every invitation then you may need to learn the art of saying ‘no thanks I’m not available then.’ Or words to that effect.

Not always easy if it’s the bosses party and you are expected to attend the Friday before Christmas day when mayhem and last-minute preparation is calling.

Whatever pre-Christmas events demand, late nights rolling home worse for wear can also mean that the next day’s plans get dashed too.  So, what activities would you prioritise as a ‘must attend?’ If travel is involved what amongst your ‘must-dos,’ do you prioritise and ensure you get them done first?

It’s all down to planning.

And if you’ve had a problem with planning in the past, then it’s time to either start early or team up with someone who is good at it.

The main message being, to watch out for over-committing yourself with additional responsibilities. Get organised create a plan and stick to your comfort zone. That way the unexpected invitations can be more instantly accepted or rejected because you’ll have assigned your time and you’ll be sticking to it.

Saying no thank you for any additional invitations to prevent that Christmas overindulgence isn’t always easy. It gets better with practice because you’re more authentic than the person who says yes and nods ‘oh no!’.

Step back and notice how much better you’ll feel if things are less chaotic.  Unless of course, you enjoy the chaos of Christmas overindulgence! Whatever your decision at least you’ll know that your actions are your own choices.

From previous experience what else has been overwhelming at Christmas time?

Time to get a handle on that before it happens again. If it’s appropriate, you could discuss your needs and concerns with others who may choose to help out by taking on a few of the tasks.

Alcohol and food choices.

Consider what better and healthier coping strategies you could bring in as a way of reducing the temptation and alleviating stress?

Ask yourself these questions:

Christmas overindulgence

Acting wisely will also save lives.

How would you take action to help you to not overeat or drink at the holiday celebrations?

What steps are you willing to take which will help keep any excess pounds off your waistline?

Keeping in mind if you feel that in moderation it’s okay to enjoy that extra slice of Christmas cake or glass of vino in preference to a whole bottle.

  • What else could you be doing to help keep those stress levels down? (see previous blogs for ideas)
  • What have you done before which worked and allowed you to manage your emotions better?

Getting a good night’s sleep

Make it a priority to ensure you’re getting to bed and not staying up till all hours every night before Christmas. The advantage of getting restful sleep will aid in keeping you healthy (fewer colds and flu) and enable you to think more clearly over the holiday period.

Sign up here to collect a free list of ideas for healthier coping strategies and some tried and tested tips on how to get a good night sleep in preparation for the holiday events.

Financial worries:

In my final blog, we look at one of the biggest causes of stress over this period, financial obligations. The pressure of the media and specific brands to buy, buy, buy!   All those things, alongside youngsters or adult expectations, can ramp up those stress hormones and risk you going into debt.

  • If that was your story last year, then I wonder what you would consider doing differently this year?
  • What conversations could you have with loved ones to ensure everyone stays within their financial means?

Although I sincerely hope this won’t describe your circumstances:

  • What possible avenues are out there to help reduce your stress levels in the financial outlay before Christmas, and potential debt worries after Christmas.  Especially if finances have spiralled and you feel out of control.

I’ll be posting what others have done to prevent or help solve this issue in my last Christmas countdown blog called:

Debt at Christmas, ‘What happens if you Splash the Cash’

Until tomorrow thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

Christmas stress and difficult people.

Day 3 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

Audio duration 8.00  Reading duration 9.00 average.

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How do you deal with DIFFICULT PEOPLE?

Part and parcel of Christmas stress is ‘expectation and experience’ in the run-up to Christmas.    And last week we looked at ways to help you to handle the pressure.

Then in blog two, we looked at Loneliness at Christmas. I included some web links if you are somebody who would like to have a community involvement, as well a list of what some people enjoy if they decide to have a quiet day at home, or go away.

Welcome to this week and blog 3 of this 6-part series.

How do you deal with DIFFICULT relatives or friends?

Avoid Christmas stress

Christmas stress: “what have I forgotten now!”

Avoiding Christmas stress isn’t easy when we are dealing with the individual emotions and expectations. So how do you usually deal with ‘difficult people’ co-ordinating family visits, or the overwhelming demands on your limited spare time?

Sometimes the day arrives, and we can feel downright bored, hemmed in because we have to live up to what we think are the expectations for our behaviour on the day. And before you know it out comes the old arguments or teasing that feels uncomfortable.        Agggh!

Okay, so we need to get through this people. After all, we want everybody to enjoy their Christmas and get something that they will enjoy. Don’t we? (A-ha, there’s the rub!)

There may be a caveat to this!

If some things go wrong, we can find ourselves following old conditioning and start playing the blame game. Either blaming others or even putting ourselves down as inadequate.

Keep in mind that this can be an automatic learned response.

Something fascinating happens when families get together. We’re with people we love and care about, and yet by the end of the day, we can find we are tearing our hair out.

Each of your siblings appears to regress into old childhood or teenage behaviours? And that includes you! Disagreements surface and arguments start.

Past hurts flare up as everyone reverts to well-worn practiced habits from the past.

Christmas stress and the learned roles from childhood that forged the family identity.

Parents may find themselves reverting to an authority role (over their now adult children!) While siblings may start returning to their rebellious childhood phase, not being bothered to help out or lording it over the younger siblings.

Some people go into an adaptive childhood state looking for ways to fit in by taking on the role of the clown, or the pacifier.  Whatever was part of the family dynamics it can become exhausting and very stressful.

As adults out in the big-wide-world, these behavioural patterns would have been modified because new skills have been learned in how to get along with others. Some adults will have gone on to have families of their own.

Occasions like Christmas and the original family unit can be a trigger for past identities to resurface again.

In the grown-up state, we can find more balanced ways of interacting.

We just need to stop falling into the past and stay present. Mindfulness might describe this adult way of behaving as being in the moment.

How do I STOP myself from being a pain? How do I deal with others who are playing up!

Well, first of all, you now know what may potentially be going on.  And with this knowledge its ultra-important that you DO NOT start telling other people that they are behaving like a child.

Seriously don’t you’ll only live to regret it! Remember we are talking about automatic learned responses.

Let’s call it an environmental trigger that causes you, your siblings and your parents, even friends, to enter into familiar ‘trance states.’ These states can bring to the surface old habitual behaviour patterns.

Ideas?

When you start to change, others may follow.

If there was a way to catch yourself or bring to your awareness a reminder of what may be going on then you could imagine something like a red STOP sign or even pressing a big FREEZE-FRAME button. Include a relaxation breathing technique and you may find yourself on the way to reducing the heightened emotion.

You can sign up for the giveaway guide, click here which was offered on day one of the Christmas Countdown series.

Your growing understanding can be influential in helping to de-escalate your stressful feelings more quickly than before. A walk in the fresh air can pace away those stress hormones too! Even walking the dog!

In relation to another person’s behaviour, reassess before criticising, giving advice or correcting them.

If bickering begins saying something quietly like, ‘hey let’s stop it’s Christmas’ or using humour that means something good for you both might help to de-escalate a situation.  If someone privately asks for your advice about something offer it but use tact at all times.

Healthy regression:

What do you enjoy doing with Mum or Dad? With other relatives or friends? Could this be part of the day’s activities?  And if Mum, a significant other, or friend has done all the cooking how do you offer to help out in rebalancing that effort on the day?

Better still –  it’s Christmas we’re all adults let’s pre-plan.

The following information is not comprehensive but gives an outline of what some people choose to do.

Pre-planning is vital to ensure that everybody (as adults) are getting the Christmas they want.

As an adult, you may have a life of your own with a partner, best friends, or want to spend specific time with your children. Singles may want to go to events or organise some ‘me time.’ Those things you’d love to do to wind down after a busy year.

Being authentic about your own needs also means showing your love in how you’d organise some flexibility to ensure that you make contact with older relatives during the holiday season.  In person, across Skype or on the phone.

The older generation may also have activities that they would enjoy doing over the holiday. Would they like to have the flexibility to travel to different members of the family on different days? Taking a break from the old traditional parental ‘cooking and hosting’ duties. What else is going on in your local area? As an example search for ideas Click here to see what’s happening in Kew Gardens for Christmas in 2017.

Not every celebration means that everybody needs to pile back to the original family home.

Gentle and loving conversations.

Having balanced adult conversations NOW could help in accommodating what’s essential to each person and how they would like to spend their Christmas.

For example, it might lead to an agreed schedule for who needs to go where and when across the holiday season. Doing this with love could break old destructive patterns and create new ‘progressive,’ not ‘regressive’ experiences.

“Create new ‘progressive,’ not ‘regressive’ experiences.”

Christmas Stress dissolves

Christmas stress begins to dissolve

I wonder what the outcome could be if we let past mistakes be bygones threw in a soupçon of compassion and forgiveness on the day.  By focusing on enjoying those good things and gifts around us. Maybe the experience would turn out much better than ever before.

Practice a sense of thanksgiving. As the year is coming to an end what can we also be thankful for?

A bit of positive psychology at this time of year could be a good thing. Tomorrow making it a fun Christmas means ditching the pressure of perfection and letting go of the worry from expectation.

Just how different would Christmas be for you if you could take each moment as it comes?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.

 

Lonely at Christmas

Day2 in the series on the Christmas countdown.

Abridged version– Audio duration  5.15  Reading duration 4.30 average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind

Today we look at Loneliness at Christmas

This is day 2 out of 6 in my Christmas Countdown series. Yesterday we took a look at ‘expectation and experience’ depending on your perspective as an extrovert or introvert.

Simple things you can do to recharge your batteries whilst dealing with the hectic side of the run-up to Christmas – and even on the day itself.

It’s amazing how simple things and taking just a little time out for yourself can boost one’s ability to get those pre-Christmas jobs done and successfully handle stressful situations.

If you’d like to catch up on yesterday’s blog, click here where you’ll also find an offer to sign up and receive a copy of my relaxation breathing guide, including how to help your mind to release the build-up of frustration.

Spoiler alert:  The sixth and final part of this series will have a free bonus list of ideas for healthier coping strategies. and I’ll be including my client guide on how to get a good night sleep, in preparation for the holiday events.

Do you wish you had people to share Christmas with?

Not everybody has a family to go to or friends to be with over the holiday season, spiking feelings of desperation and being alone, depressed and left out.

Did you know that equally some people LOVE having Christmas time to themselves?

Unplugging from the frenetic pace of your working year, or other people’s expectations that’s two benefits that the holiday could bring to you.

If like one client, you have suffered a bereavement during the year, this may be a time of reflection and quiet for you.

People celebrate this time of year in their faith or spirituality by connecting to those fundamental beliefs.

Or you may have chosen to experience long country walks as a way to chill-out while making your own decisions for the future. Choosing to have a quiet time while looking forward to celebrating with others the glitz of New Year’s Eve.

Ideas!

Which options would suit you?  – Here are several things that people do.

I don’t want to be alone!

In the UK there is the potential to become involved in the annual community projects.  Meaning you no longer need the fear of being lonely at Christmas time. Being of service to your local community can be extended to beyond the Christmas period too.

Check out your local council for details. Use the web search engine for your city by typing in ‘where to volunteer in…’ for example London, or Liverpool this Christmas.

If you need to talk to someone over the Christmas period, there is splendid work done by The Samaritans in the UK, who are usually available to phone round the clock. Is there a similar organisation in the country where you live?

Or if you fancy sharing lunch in the company of others, you could check if there will be any activities set up by your local council.  There are also alternative non-profit community organisations.

Lonely at Christmas

Volunteering around the UK

And of course, you can google or use alternative search engines to get regional variations. Or visit your local council or library to gather local information.

Click here for more information from community Christmas across the UK.

For information on The UK Samaritans service

Example of volunteering around London.

There are times when people chose to spend the main day quietly for many different reasons.

Deciding to hunker-down and get cosy?

In planning for your perfect day think about:

  • What are your favourite foods and films?
  • Who would you choose to call, or Skype?
  • What type of music would you play out loud?
  • Where’s that good book that you meant to read?
  • Maybe you’ve arranged to meet up for Christmas lunch with another person who is also spending the day on their own?
  • Or maybe you’ve been able to a ‘push the boat out’ and arranged a singles friendship holiday for over the Christmas period.
Lonely at Christmas? Not necessarily.

Cosy and fulfilled at Christmas time

 

You may feel just as fulfilled with Christmas magic if you find yourself doing some of your favourite things on your own. Just as much as if you choose to share some of your time with other people too.   

Our emotions around this period can differ from person to person, depending on our circumstances. It’s what has meaning for you that’s most important.

 

Next week my third blog will look at what most folks have an opinion on or concern for over the Christmas period. How do you deal with DIFFICULT PEOPLE?

Sometimes we feel we can’t escape such people over the holiday period. Our emotions may be tied to a sense of duty or guilt or in circumstances that are beyond our control.

It’s no fun to feel bored silly, or if you expect the day to end up in arguments and recriminations.

So, is it possible to control difficult people, even when that problematic person is our self!  What’s the reason for this and how can we break that pattern?

And in my fourth blog, we look at how to combat the build-up of stress from rushing around. Trying to fit everything in. While that little voice in your head is screaming “I’m tired and overwhelmed.”

Or “what if everything goes wrong, it will be my fault.”

Taking some simple actions and making an effort with your mindset could produce a significant difference to your enjoyment.

Until next week… thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Nature has programmed all of us with physical and emotional needs. How stressed we feel can depend on how well our emotional needs are being met.

Listening to our emotional needs and ensuring we have them in balance is one of the most important things for good mental health.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and would like guidance in believing in yourself and moving towards what you want then I may be able to help you.

Click on my image to be directed to my email contact details.

Christmas Countdown

OMG, we’re into the Christmas countdown?

Abridged Audio duration 02.59  Reading duration 04.00 average.

Important warning: When listening to any audio content please ensure you’re not concentrating on anything else like driving a vehicle or operating machinery! With your safety in mind.

Keep calm on the Christmas countdownWe all find ways to handle the festive season. These can range from organising heightened excitement and frivolities, like good times sharing with family or friends. Maybe there is the compulsory work do (‘party-on’) and in some cases don’ts!  Whatever you have planned this year, and where ever you are placing your attention, one commonality is the amount of stress that can build up in the rush or the financial worry.

 

Every Monday and Tuesday over the next three weeks, I’m going to add some Christmas de-stress tips one or two of which may just be right in helping you to keep the levels of stress down around the holiday season.  Alternatively, these tips could get you thinking of ways that would work better for you, so it’s a win/win!

We’ll be taking a snapshot of:

  1. Expectation and experience
  2. Loneliness (put in Christmas community initiatives)
  3. Dealing with difficult people like relatives or friends
  4. Making it Fun
  5. Overindulgence
  6. What happens if you splash the cash?

What are your seasonal stress triggers?

Expectations and experience: 

Christmas countdown

Extroverts delight party Christmas

For those of us who are extroverts, the Christmas experience as a big social event may be just the fuel that powers your enjoyment.  Fantastic, get ‘stuck-in’!

That’s not me! 

Psychology Today reviewed the research from Myers Briggs studies in the USA which determined that approximately 16 to 50 percent of the population had characteristics of an introvert.

The complete opposite of the extrovert nature means that rather than being energised by partying they’d prefer to have a nice meal in the quiet of their home.

Does this sound like you?

Then you need to find a simple way to recharge your energies through the day which will help you to cope better and let go of the fears that used to undermine your Christmas experience.

Ideas!

Christmas CountdownConsider planning some time whereby you can give attention to your own needs and feelings.

In the days before Christmas, where would it be possible to create a little time for yourself and by yourself?

5 to 10 minutes of private meditation, or relaxation breathing, sign up and click here if you would like a guide for one of the best ways to do this and let go of anxiety or frustration.

Listing to a favourite tune or nipping out for a short walk around the block or through the park.

You may find a mindful moment when taking a stroll and taking in the view of the daytime winter sky.  Or if you prefer the twinkle of the stars at night.

In Tomorrow’s blog, we’ll take a snapshot of what some people fear the most about Christmas ‘Loneliness’.

And create some choices that you could make to break that limiting spell.

While at the opposite end there are people who feel guilty because they WANT to be alone. We discover what’s right about that?

Christmas countdown

Contact for Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.