How to make December a time to thrive (and not just survive)

No stress Christmas season

Things certainly have a way of changing, don’t they?

For the last couple of weeks I was raving about how good holidays are, and now we’re in the thick of the end of year rush at work, end of season wind up of kids’ activities (and preparation for life with a son going into Grade 6) and managing life in general. Mix that with a thick dollop of Christmas activities – a time which is significant to us – throw in a few birthdays as well, and we have a recipe for hyper stress.

As a household, I saw we were starting to flap around like panicked chickens, exacerbated by a bout of gastro, nervous energy surrounding roles available for grade 6 children (and the speeches and other activities they entail). There is another way and that’s to be clearer on our priorities. And then cut out all the superfluous parts.

Usually I realise this once I’m too far down the line towards overwhelm, and then I find it hard to extract myself. This time, I’m determine we’ll do things differently. And here’s how. I’ve prioritised, and I’m now changing my environmental factors to make it easier to stick with my priorities.*

I can’t do everything – but I can do somethings 

I have a tendency to agree to things with a feeling of obligation. I don’t want to leave people in the lurch. I also look at worthy things and want to sign up to those.

But – I can’t spread myself too thin. I end up running late (a constant problem), I forget, my mind is preoccupied with the things I’m forgetting, rather than what I, in theory, should be enjoying. I’m not enjoying life – I’m enduring it.

So – I know most of my month now. I’ve decided my key commitments, the organisations I’m giving to, the ways I’m helping out. And, as far as possible, I’m not consciously adding more things to do.

There is still white space – time not committed – and, as far as possible, I’m keeping that. That is for the other priorities listed below.

Spend Time With People You Love

If I’m not careful, my family get the leftovers of my focus and energy – and time. But they’re the ones I love the most. That’s the wrong way around.

As I read today, it’s too easy to spend most of our time with the visitors in our lives, not those who form our base, our purpose, our home. For me, that’s family and a few close friends. And, as someone who needs downtime  to function properly – and to connect with what’s important, not neglecting these people is key.

Basic self care

This is a very straight forward list of areas to pay attention to. I’ll be doing the following:

  • Sleep – and get to bed early enough.
  • Move a bit more every day.
  • Eat healthy food each day (which will offset some that I know won’t be as healthy).
  • Drink enough water. And
  • And take time to be – to reflect, to notice, to appreciate, to find joy, and to do nothing.

That’s it. No more complicated than that (not necessarily easy but simple. And that’s what I need this time of the year).

It is what it is (now) and What will be will be (then)

These two phrases are flipsides of the same point, really. Given my focus, some things will slide. Some things won’t be completed as I’d wanted. I’ll be taking shortcuts at times. Most things will get done. We’ll deal with the rest later.

It does mean I’ll have to do less of things I’ve spent a lot of time on this year (including facebook). I don’t have the time to get sucked into that at the moment. This will be a struggle. And that’s where the environmental management aspects below come into play.

(And as an example of basic self care – I am taking a bizarre amount of pleasure in the symmetry of the five word phrases that make up this heading. So appreciation can be of the smallest things!)

These are my priorities. They’re the ‘whats’. To make them happen, I have to make it as simple as possible. That’s the ‘how’

Let’s see if I can make them happen.

Benjamin Hardy, a blogger for Medium, wrote here that if you’re truly committed to an outcome, you’ll put measures in place. And as a result – ‘in your mind, it’s as though you’ve already succeeded. All doubt and disbelief are gone.’

As s self doubter from way back, I can’t quite comprehend this. However I do like the steps he’s identified that both show you’re commitment and increase your chances of succeeding:

  • Investing upfront
  • Making it public
  • Setting a timeline
  • Installing several forms of feedback/ accountability
  • Removing or altering everything in your environment that opposes your commitment

Pretty good list, hey? Note that investment isn’t always financial though – it’s anything that costs you.

And so this is what I’m now doing. I’m changing my environment – removingbthd need for choices when not necessary, trying to eliminate distractions, making it hard to back out of what I’ve decided is the best approach.

Some great tips about changing your environment can be found in Benjamin’s article above as well as one Kelly Exeter wrote earlier here


Stress free? It’s ambitious but I’m giving it every chance! 

And with all this, I’m starting to look forward to seeing how this month rolls out.

It’s – ideally – a joyful time of the year. And that’s what I’m looking forward to!


How are you feeling now we’ve reached the last month of the year? Excited, stressed, feeling relaxed – or a mix of all emotions?



*Mesnwhile my husband, who tends not to overthink like I do, has just started over the past two weeks, and has wisely had been taking himself to bed early. There’s something to be said about this very basic approach – but then, what would I write about!

2 thoughts on “How to make December a time to thrive (and not just survive)

  1. I love your simple approach. I agree with your strategy but find I’m not so great at executing it. I know that going to bed early, eating healthy food and moving my body are important and necessary, but I don’t always succeed. I have my husband off work this week and next and it has changed the vibe in our house. Just having him here means everything is not just on me. Now that he’s allowed to drive (post-surgery) even having him do the school run in the morning makes a huge difference. So it’s a one-off, but for the first time in a long time, I’m calmer than ever at this time of year.


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