5 ways to actually enjoy a stressful, chaotic, imperfect Christmas.

My parents split up when I was 8, so I've only really known hectic, split-Christmases where people wanted me to be in different places at the same time (read: the perfect recipe for Christmas chaos).

I also then went on to marry an Irish man 🙄 so I'm now forever destined to be splitting my Christmases between Brummie fam(s) and Dublin fam(s) until the end of time too! 😂 What can I say, I must love it. 

As much as I do enjoy the build-up and I love that sense of renewal of this time of year, I still do find it crazy-stressful in part, especially around managing inner expectations (getting my own Christmas shopping done, finding time to spend time with the people I want to be with, looking after my health), alongside managing outer expectations (work commitments, family commitments – essentially feeling like I have zero time for myself).

So while I think it's probably futile to try and get rid of stress around Christmas-time altogether, I wanted to share with you how I embrace the chaos a little more, minimise the stress a little more, and in turn enjoy it all a little more instead! 🎅🏻

No. 1: Forget your picture-postcard Christmas.

And don't even attempt to create it. The moment you try to re-create the awesome Christmas of a few years ago, or try and live out the Christmas of movie-land, you're automatically setting your expectations too high and setting yourself up for disappointment instead.

Instead, why not try and create the most crazy-chaotic, bonkers Christmas of all time? Create a Christmas where you let things slip and freaking laugh your face off about it. Go hellbent for creating one of those 'ahhhh, remember the Christmas when...' tales, and end it with stories like '...my sprouts were so raw, Nan's false teeth got stuck on 'em'; or '...I was in such a rush to buy Dad's pyjamas for his present, I ended up buying him a women's onesie'. 

It's not about the perfect Christmas, it's about the experiences and memories we can make and take with us ❤️️

No. 2: Move your body.

Of course it's almost obligatory to eat your weight in mince pies, chocolates and vol au vents this time of year, but it's not so obligatory to balance that out with a bit of mince-pie-chocolate-vol-au-vent-burning. And before you skip to the next section, hear me out! It doesn't need to be a hard ball session at the gym (unless that's your bag of course), or even a run around the block – simply making a slice of time to take a walk, dance to a console dance game, play silly feckers with friends and fam recreating dance routines from music videos on YouTube – all add up to extending that feel-good feeling, and minimising that self-loathing from gorging like a pro.

No. 3: Be the bigger person.

Maybe the season is overly-commercialised and lost its way a little bit, but the fact of the matter is, the season is and will always be about you taking the opportunity to relax and have fun. But if your festive season involves tolerating people you'd just rather not have to see or deal with, then I can see why you'd assume the 'fun' bit gets taken out of the equation for you. Not so! 😁 Once you've made a conscious decision to rise above their annoyances/inadequacies/irritants for the day and be the bigger person, you'd be surprised how much it can change your enjoyment of Christmas. 

Of course it's not easy, and the easier option most definitely is to grumble, feel dread and just wish it was all over (and believe me, I've had many-a-Christmas fighting this particular battle). But trying things like deep breathing when you feel your patience waning, or making a concerted effort to focus your attention making memories with the other people that you do want to be with, can really turn a Christmas around 🎄 plus, there's hundreds of other days in the year that you can choose to work through your beef with them 😉

No. 4: Feel what you feel.

If this time of year is particularly tough for you emotionally – perhaps you're grieving the loss of someone close to you, or you're far away and separated from people that you want to be with, then my gosh, let yourself feel that grief. Don't ever feel obliged to put on a show of 'I'm-okay-ness' so other people feel better. Acknowledging your feelings and maybe even telling people close to you that you're struggling, is way healthier for your mental health than squishing it all down underneath a Christmas jumper, hoping it goes away. 

If you're in this headspace, what can be really powerful in helping you enjoy your more-than-imperfect Christmas, is actually helping someone else through this time. Maybe volunteering at a local homeless shelter, making a concerted effort to visit and drop off some treats to an elderly person who lives alone perhaps – anything you can think of. But it's these small acts of kindness that can help you start to plant the tiny seeds of feeling gratitude again for the things you do have, and the things that make life worth living. 

PS, here's a hug 👉🏻❤️️👈🏻 love yoooooou 💋

No. 5: Just do you.

Even if your version of Christmas is a crazy-busy schedule of being here, there and everywhere (🙋🏻err yar), make sure you carve out a slot that’s just for you. Making time for an afternoon of you, and do whatever it is that you wanna do, is worth its weight in freaking gold. Allowing yourself that time, genuinely makes the barminess and obligations of the season more enjoyable and more manageable. Maybe it's a sale-shopping session for 'you'-gifts, maybe it's a Christmas movie under a blanket in a onesie, maybe it’s a quiet novel-read in a coffee shop – it doesn’t actually matter what it is, as long as it's doing 'you'.

This might sound like an obvious strategy, but tbh it’s seldom carried out. Can you actually tell me the last time you had that ‘you’ time in amongst your Christmas chaos? I imagine you’ll struggle to recall a time, but if you don’t struggle, then high-ten to you! 🙌🏻 You’ve got this Christmas thing down!

And there we have it! You obviously don't need to implement them all – just trying one or two, or even crafting your own versions is fab. The essential part is just you making a conscious effort to let go of any expectations of a perfect Christmas, and bask in the glory of your bonkers one instead 😁

Excitingly for me, I'm going to take my first wee blog-holiday over Christmas, mainly because I seriously don't have one tiny window to squeeze blogging in (!), and also, because I think it's the perfect opportunity for me to take a rechargey-rest while you're enjoying your crazy, imperfect, chocolate-filled Christmas 🎄 (plus, I realised that I've been blogging for 61 weeks straight, and I think my mind and body's telling me a bit of downtime's needed) 😁 but don't worry, I will be back with a bang after the new year, and if you've invested in The Imperfect Life® Planner for 2018, I'll be sending invites out to the secret Facebook group just after Christmas and we can get stuck into what's gonna be the coolest year ever 💪🏻 side by side!

PS, if you've purchased a planner, but you haven't yet provided me with your Facebook email address (through the Kickstarter backer survey or through my website's order confirmation email), then drop me a line and I'll add your email to the list 😉

So then gorgeous face, I'm sending you the most awesomely imperfect Christmas, I can't tell you how overwhelmed and in-love with you I am after all the immense support you've shown me this year. You're just wonderful and I can't WAIT to see you in the new year! 👏🏻 Squeeeeeeee!!!

Until 2018,

Big love and all the feels, Kerry :D