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Keep calm, enjoy Christmas

It’s that time of year when the whole world seems to be on countdown to the festive season. With jingle bells ringing in your ears at every turn, it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed. As a counterpoint, Juliet Landau-Pope, a decluttering coach and study skills consultant, offers some simple tips on how to plan, keep calm and focus on what’s important this Christmas.


If the thought of all the tasks you need to tackle makes your head swim, one simple solution is to compile a list. But just one list, not several. Whether you opt for an electronic spreadsheet or good old pen and paper, you’ll feel more in control if you collate everything in one place and start ticking off items well in advance.


There are lots of good reasons to clear out the surplus stuff in your home well before the holiday season. Use up food in the freezer to make space for festive fare. Review drink supplies before shopping for more. Clear kitchen surfaces to make it quicker and easier to prepare meals. Declutter your spare room so you’ll be ready for guests. And, perhaps most importantly, encourage children to donate toys they no longer need to charity to make space for gifts.


If you’re hosting a get-together, make it a collaborative affair by inviting guests to help. Maybe they can bring a dish, or arrive early to set the table. Don’t be afraid to ask for help - this is a sign of strength, not weakness – and there are no medals for doing it all on your own. You may need to let go of perfectionist tendencies or allow others to express themselves, but finding ways to share the workload will declutter your schedule.


Whether you’re musing over menus or deliberating over decorations, try to avoid making things too complicated. Less can be more and you can make an impact with limited fuss if you remember the wise words of Leonardo da Vinci: ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’.


When you’re overwhelmed, it’s hard to maintain a sense of purpose. So if there’s too much to do, sometimes the most useful thing to do is … nothing. Stop, breathe and focus. Feasts and festivals are celebrations so take time to savour the opportunity to spend time with family, friends or community. Enjoy.

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Of course, Christmas can be a difficult time for some. If you’re a Benenden member who is truly overwhelmed or facing difficulties such as relationship problems, money worries or bereavement then call the Benenden Psychological Wellbeing Helpline for assistance.