Category Archives: anxiety

How To Customise Your Christmas and Cut the Stress

Do you sometimes feel it’s all too much?

Do you feel caught in a Christmas trap?

I used to. I worried about every aspect of the approaching ‘Festive Season’, feeling far from festive. And then my son, who knew how I was feeling said this:

‘Mum, why don’t you choose the parts of Christmas that you like and leave the parts you don’t like? You don’t have to do all of it!’

I was reminded of when I bought my new Mini.

I knew the colour I wanted but that was it. The salesman had to talk me through how I could customise my new car. He explained which features came as ‘Standard’ and then presented me with choices for all the rest of the spec. Bit by bit I built up the picture of the car I wanted, choosing fabric or leather seats, interior and exterior colours, automatic or gear shift and so on.

The Mini I collected bore very little resemblance to the one in the brochure because I’d chosen how I wanted it to be. I’d ‘customised it’.

You can do this with the Christmas holiday.

 There are no rules apart from the fact that we all celebrate (or not) on the same day. You do need to be positive and assertive (not arrogant) but with a bit of practise, you can do this!

What comes as ‘standard’?

  • A day for giving gifts
  • Food
  • Decorations
  • A tree
  • Cards
  • Family time
  • Parties
  • Carols

You will want to add more to my list but let’s look at the first three.

How to customise.

  • Gifts.

You need to get ahead on this one, if you’re going to change from the ‘standard’ requirements. If you want to change who you buy for, perhaps only for children and not for adults, let people know your intentions well in advance, to avoid embarrassment or upset. It’s not easy to change a long-established routine but it is possible to do it if you are sure that’s what you want to do.

You could write down what you’ll say and even practise saying it until you’re confident.

  • Food

Ok, so the turkey roast followed by Christmas pud, mince pies, large amounts of cream and custard, is fairly ‘standard’. But you can customise!

Christmas food should be special. That get’s hard to do when we have the ridiculous amounts of ‘special’ food in the shops all year round.

One way to customise your Christmas food is to choose your favourites. If you love fillet steak but it’s a rare treat, or your mother is coming and her favourite is steak and kidney pie then that’s what you have! Try to have the food that’s a ‘treat’ for as many of your guests as possible.

If you choose to spend the day with your OH then it’s easy to have your favourite food but it can still be done with the family. Not everyone wants turkey when they can have it on any day of the year.

  • The family.

Not so easy to customise but not impossible. Here are a few suggestions:

Decide, well in advance, where you and your family want to be for Christmas. At home? On holiday? At your parents? Your parents at yours? Once it’s decided, stick to it. A few feathers might be ruffled but there’s no rule that says you have to do what you always do. You can change the habit, if it’s a habit you don’t like…

Do you spend much of the holiday driving your children to see step – parents, grandparents, divorced parents, so much so that everyone’s bad-tempered and the children hate it? If it’s what you want to do, and most importantly, if it’s what the children want to do, fine. If not, decide how to customise.

It’s about forward planning. It’s about taking the ‘I ought’ out of the equation and replacing it with ‘I’m happy to’.

I was delighted, and still am, with my beautiful blue Mini. Every time I drive it I smile. (Except in snow.) It suits me fine but I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice.

You can customise Christmas, to suit your capabilities, needs, emotions and stress levels.  It’s not selfish in a bad way, it’s simply deciding what you can cope with. As my son said, so wisely, you can include the parts you love and leave out the parts that concern you. That way, you might even enjoy it!

How do you deal with the varying ‘obligations’ of the Christmas season?

Are you changing things this year?  

 Have you ‘customised’ Christmas?

Do pass on your hints and tips.

 

Header by cursedthing, post image by the mullett, on Flickr.

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This is Me… But Who Are You?

 
 

and who are you?

You’re at a party.

You don’t know many people there. Not yet, anyway. It would be so much easier if everyone had a label pinned to them. No need for all the preliminaries, at least you’d know a bit about them to get the conversation started. You’d like to disappear, run away…

He’s coming over. The balding man in a drab jacket. Very British. Doesn’t look at all interesting. You take a deep breath, try to find your friendly face and say,

‘Hello!  I don’t believe we’ve met! I’m Trish. I live next door.’

He beams. ‘Hello! Good to meet you! I’m Henry. I’ve just moved here.’

(And you know exactly what you’ll say next, don’t you?)

‘Nice to meet you, Henry.  And what do you do?’

He looks down at his freshly polished shoes.

 ‘I’m one of the Queen’s body guards!’

You stare at him for a moment. Surely not. He looks so… ordinary. You grin, embarrassed and then the grin turns to a genuine smile and you say,

‘I’d love to hear more, Henry! Are you allowed to talk about it?’

He fetches you both a drink and you talk animatedly for the next half an hour. He’s such a compelling story-teller you realise he’s quite the most interesting man at the party.

I have just up-dated my ‘This is me’ page. (It’s at the top of this page.) I’m following the A-List Bloggers Boot Camp and this was one of the tasks in our first assignment. It’s hard knowing what to put in and what to leave out when I’m writing about myself. I want to connect with you but I don’t want to be boring about it or you’ll fly away!

The process of up-dating made me think about how it’s so easy to judge one another with very little information. When you meet someone for the first time, what impression do you give? What information do you give them? And what do you leave out?

Communication is what it’s all about. So much confusion and misunderstanding results from poor communication.

Here’s my Positive Spin on How To Communicate.

  • Tell the truth.

How often have you heard someone boasting about their achievements? Exaggerating their successes? Why do they do it? Because they’re scared of not measuring up, not being good enough. They have low self-esteem. Do you find yourself exaggerating sometimes?

  • Watch and learn.

At this time of year you’ll have plenty of opportunities to watch people at social events. Focus on one person who is communicating well. Does he talk more than listen? Look at his body language, how he stands, how much eye contact he makes. Pick one aspect to try out  in your next conversation. I promise it works! I’ve done it…

  •  Listen more than talk.

It’s easy to talk too much when you’re nervous. We all do it. But one of the secrets to good communication is to focus on the other person. Completely. Make them feel as if there’s no-one else in the room. Listen, but don’t chime in with what you’re dying to say. Wait. Ask questions. Ask them to tell you more. And whatever you do, don’t look around to find someone more interesting to talk to. You know how that feels, and it’s not good.

What would you write on your ‘This is me’ page? 

More to the point, what would you leave out?

What do you think is the secret to good communication?

Do tell us, we all need all the help we can get!

 

Header image by cursedthing, post image by Dustin Diaz, on Flickr.

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How I Learnt What’s Important

Let’s go to the Caribbean!

It was 7.00 am.

The phone rang.

We’d been sitting up in bed with a coffee, discussing our holiday plans. So many ideas, all sounding enticing, but which to choose?

We’d love to return to the Caribbean. Been before, twice in fact, and absolutely loved it. After all, what’s not to love? Jewell coloured seas, glorious skies we can normally only imagine here,  friendly people, white sand, rainbow fish…. I think you get my drift.

Or we could go over to Ireland. Again, very friendly people, delicious food, fuschia strewn hedges, ribbons of islands strung out in sparkling seas, confectionary-coloured cottages… emmmm.

Mustn’t forget Italy. Tuscan hills disappearing in a misty sky; traffic filled streets in central Rome, and a few steps away, narrow, quiet cobbled alley ways to explore; the Tower of Pisa: Venetian canals…

Or we could go to France. Only a short distance by Eurostar, to Paris. Can’t even begin to describe why we’d love to go to Paris. Eiffel Tower, flea markets, cafes, wine, Sacre Coeur , wine, Champs Elysee shopping, wine…..

As I was saying,… the phone rang. We looked at one another. It was early. Too early. No-one would be ringing at this time. Unless…

What if… my daughter was ill again?

What if… my son was in trouble?

What if… my brother ….

What if…  What if…

I perched on the edge of the bed to answer the call.   My chest thumped, my cheeks burned, my hand shook. I bit my lip as I slowly put the phone to my ear and listened…

Later, over a welcome and very much needed second cup of coffee, we talked about that phone call. It was a cold call. Nothing worrying at all. But we were so glad they rang. What a lesson we both learned. All our holiday plans melted  away as the fears crept in.

 Holidays are fun, exciting sometimes, but they are only 2/3 weeks out of our lives. The important and precious things in our lives are here.  All the time. If we’re lucky. We mustn’t take them for granted. We must give them the importance they deserve. And give them the love they deserve, too.

What’s important to you in your life?

Income?

Car?

Stuff?

How do you know what’s important?

Has that changed, over the years?

Header image by cursedthing, on Flickr. Post image – my own.

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Filed under anxiety, fear, happiness, hope, instincts, plans, positive, risk, safe, success

The Easy Way To Make 21 Decisions

I talk to myself. 

A lot. 

It helps me work stuff out. 

Stuff like decisions. 

   

Perhaps I need to decide: 

  • Whether to say goodbye to summer and turn up the heating
  • Whether to write that difficult email
  • Whether to have fish for dinner
  • Whether to use fake tan
  • Whether to try online banking
  • Whether to adopt a rescue cat
  • Whether to change my hairstyle (sorry, male Spinners…)

Or I might have to make bigger decisions like: 

  • Whether to make that dentist’s appointment
  • Whether to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an invitation to a ball
  • Whether to make that awkward phone call
  • Whether to spend a whole day sleeping
  • Whether to re-organise my garden
  • Whether to buy an i-phone
  • Whether to get expensive tickets to see James Taylor in concert

Or… even bigger ones: 

  • Whether to move house
  • Whether to leave my job
  • Whether to change my car
  • Whether to book a solo trip to China
  • Whether to take refresher driving lessons
  • Whether to accept an invitation to visit South Africa
  • Whether to go away for Christmas

Listen to yourself... it works!

 

In all these decisions, and they’re all real ones I’ve had to make, I relied on my gut feeling, my intuition. 

But, I hear you asking, how do you know you made the right decision if you only ‘asked your gut feeling’? 

And  here’s my answer: 

When I’d decided, in every case, I asked myself if I felt relieved. 

If I did, then my instinct was right. If I didn’t, then it was wrong. 

In every case, I felt relieved about the decision I’d made. 

I’ve discovered that my instinct gives me a feeling of calm when I’ve been undecided. 

I know from experience (there had to be one advantage to getting older….) that my instinct is always right. It ‘knows’ what’s best for me. 

It’s a feeling I get. 

A bit spooky, I know, but I suppose another way to put it is, it’s listening with your feelings. 

And the more I use this method of making decisions, the more I know my gut instincts work in my favour. 

Richard Branson said

‘I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics’. 

I don’t know about you, but if it’s good enough for Richard Branson, it’s good enough for me. 

Now… I need to make another decision …what to write about next time… 

  

Do you follow your instincts when making decisions? 

Do you believe it helps? 

Has it ever let you down?

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Why You Must Make Friends With A Wolf

 He’s standing by the school wall.   

It’s his turn to be the wolf.   

This game is the latest craze and it goes like this:   

  1. He’s got his back to us. We can’t see his face but he’s ‘the big, bad wolf’ and he’s soooo scary. We imagine his hairy, angry face and his sharp teeth.
  2. We wait at the other end of the playground. A large group of six-year olds, giggling and laughing, slightly nervous. No-one wants to make the first move. Then…together… we chorus:  ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’
  3. Still with his back to us he growls, ‘7 o’clock!’
  4. We creep, just a few steps towards the ‘wolf’.
  5. We ask again, ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’ and we wait, fingers crossed.
  6. ‘9 o’clock!’ comes the threatening answer.
  7. We creep a bit further. We feel a bit braver. Some of us creep up closer than others. Some of us aren’t quite ready to go too close.
  8. ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’ we shout, pretending to be very brave.
  9. ‘Dinner time!’ he roars and turns around.He chases, we scream, we run and run, until one of us reaches the wall without getting caught and eaten.
  10. Everyone laughs with relief, leaving the wolf of our imagination behind, happy that we escaped.  And what about the one who reached the wall? He beams proudly as  he takes his place as the ‘wolf’ and the game begins again.

Fear is a strange emotion.   

Why are horror films so successful? Some people enjoy being afraid in a ‘safe’ environment, just like we did in the safety of the playground.   

What about the extreme fairground rides? Again, it’s a short lived fear and in a safe environment.   

And the ghost train?   

    

This is what I learnt from making friends with a Wolf –   

 1.   The playground wolf was as scary as we imagined him to be.   

      When we’re afraid, it’s very easy to let our imagination lead us where we’d rather not go.    

2.  The playground game won’t work if you don’t have the strength of the group around you.   

When  our fear in a group, we feel stronger. With support our fear shrinks.           

3.   The wolf’s growl reinforces our fear.   

Fear flutters as we allow ourselves to think about it.   

 4.   We creep towards the wolf.   

We take tiny steps to deal with the fear.   

5.   We creep, but some of us creep faster than others.   

When we deal with our fear, we must go at our own pace.    

6.   We hear the wolf’s voice again.   

The threat is still there.   

7.   We creep even closer, feeling just a bit braver.   

Our belief in our ability to face this is growing.   

8.   Some of us are ‘acting as if’ we’re not afraid.   

We whisper to ourselves, ‘Yes! I can do this!’ putting on our bravest face.  

9.   He turns around.   

We face the fear and, you’ve guessed it! It’s not so scary after all.   

10.  Relief all round!   

       When the ‘wolf’ finally faced us, we were ready and he didn’t look so scary…   

 Are you ready to face your fears?  

You know you want to… and wolves aren’t scary at all… are they?   

Altogether now…   

‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf!’  

 Do share your battle with fear.   

What frightens you at the moment?  

   

 

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How Not To Have A Perfect Holiday

     

Perfection?

 

 …your ‘perfect holiday’.  

‘We were delayed for 8 hours…’    

‘The humidity was dreadful…’    

”The mosquitos were an ‘absolute nightmare’  (sorry, regular readers – had to pop that link in!)    

Hetty the Hermit wrote about her holiday and it started me thinking… again… as she often does…    

So much emphasis is put on having to have the perfect trip.    

The magazines are full of articles about getting the perfect tan, the perfect holiday capsule wardrobe, the perfectly packed case.    

But what’s the ‘real deal’?    

  • Two weeks of bliss by the pool?

             How about two weeks of sunburn?    

  • Half an hour of browsing in the airport bookshop?

             How about a rush to check in because the taxi was late?    

  • Glorious weather?

             How about thunderstorms, humidity and soaring temperatures?      

  • A fun time for the children?

             How about sunburn, late nights and tantrums over the food?    

OK, OK – perhaps you think I exaggerate but all of the above have happened to me.    

Somehow our expectations always exceed the reality.    

     

But isn’t that normal for most of us?    

We expect too much, hope for perfection, then discover that perfection doesn’t exist.    

What we should be aiming for is finding satisfaction in every day, rather than putting all our hopes into those two precious weeks.    

So many of us put up with our every day lives, letting life pass us by, wishing our time away, until that elusive, perfect holiday.    

     

Have you been away lately?    

How was it?    

Did it live up to your expectations?    

I hope so.    

Was it ‘perfect’?    

What would be your perfect holiday?

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How to Learn Your lesson From A Pigeon

Can it get any worse?

 

Don’t we just love making a drama out of a crisis? 

She broke her nail – ‘absolute nightmare!’ 

They ran out of wine  – ‘absolute nightmare!’ 

It rained on her washing – ‘absolute nightmare!’ 

Silly, isn’t it. 

Driving along the other day I wasn’t sure what it was at first. It just fell into the road in front of me. 

Fragile, tossed into the air by the wind, it never stood a chance. Had it fallen off a lorry taking garden rubbish to the tip? I watched in the rear view mirror as it was squashed by a car’s tyre. 

Just a bundle of twigs? 

No. Far more precious than that.  It was, or rather had been, a pigeon’s nest. Tossed around in the road, destroyed. 

Tears surprised me as I drove home.  

I love and value my home. If I lost it, that would certainly be ‘an absolute nightmare’ for me.  A disaster of mega proportions. 

Every time  see a pigeon, I remember. 

Just make another nest, guys!

That pigeon lost its home that day. 

And what did it do? 

Start all over again! 

Over on Ken’s blog he’s written about dealing with setbacks. He’s quite right in what he says. 

If the worst does happen to you, (and it’s not usually as bad as you imagined), behave like a pigeon (!) and start picking  up those twigs… 

Who knows! 

For the pigeon, the second nest might have been a whole lot stronger and sturdier that the first…

and it’s the same for you….

There’s always a Positive Spin if you look hard enough! 

When did you last catch yourself whining, 

 ‘It’s an absolute nightmare!’ 

And…more to the point…was it? 

‘Press on. Obstacles are seldom the same size tomorrow as they are today.’ 

Robert Schuller

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