We’ve found that despite best intentions, disruptive times in the year can make it hard to stick to a plan; be that eating, use of technology or exercise.
Just when you think you’ve established a good new routine, along comes days off, shopping, visits from family and friends – all brilliant and all a potential spanner in the works of a more intentional life.
So how do you keep yourself on track and keep things real over the festive period?
1 – Reduce the number of decisions you need to make.
It has been calculated that we make around 35000 decisions a day. As the day progresses our ability to make good decisions diminishes. This is referred to as decision fatigue.
Being intentional can also mean reducing the need to make many of the small decisions by setting up things in a way that helps us focus our attention on the big ones and minimalism is a great way of helping you focus on the important things.
Having simplified my wardrobe, for example, I now don’t have to make any decisions around what clothes I need to wear on an average day. I just pull on a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt and get going.
Equally, by menu planning, you can reduce the number of decisions you need to make around food (and save money).
Finally, make your big or important decisions in the morning. Your mind will be clearer and less worn down by the day’s choices.
2 – Be clear about your deal breakers
We should all try to be flexible. There’s no point in beat yourself up over something that is meant to make you feel better. That’s literally the most counterproductive thing you can do.
So if you’re trying to make your meals from scratch but to do so means that you’re giving yourself to much to do at a time when there’s a lot going on, let it go!
At the same time though, there are certain things we can be more strict about because they increase our mental clarity rather than add to our stresses.
One example is our use of technology. There’s simply no good reason why you should allow mobile phones to sneak back into a place where they don’t belong, like the dinner table or the bedside cabinet.
Another deal breaker for me is exercise. It can be hard to fit it in, but the benefits to my mental and physical wellbeing are so profound, that I try to prioritise it. It quite literally enables me to cope with all the other stresses and strains of a busy festive period.
3 – Don’t waste energy on toxic people
This is a hard one for many people (myself included) – because some of the most toxic or draining individuals in your life are probably related to you.
Here’s the problem though. They can drain you of your energy and happiness which in turn can make it harder for you to be happy and present for the people in your life that you cherish.
Sometimes the only way to hold onto your own reserves of emotional energy is to distance yourself from these people. Don’t, for example, feel like you have to spend time visiting family members who will only make you feel crappy. Or if you have to go, don’t feel like you need to spend the night with them.
The people who you love, and who love you back are the ones who deserve you at your best.
4 – Stay away from social media
With extra time at home, it’s easy to slip back into habits like scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.
These platforms can be a great way to keep in touch with your extended family and friends network, but when you get sucked into the world of someone else’s curated Christmas, it’s very easy to start seeing your own life as being less polished, less fun-filled.
Of course, the people who share many of these Instagram moments of festive fun are not really experiencing it either. They are most likely capturing an accentuated moment and then presenting it as their lives.
5 – Quantity isn’t quality.
The amount of anything – gifts, food, friends – is not a good indicator of the quality of experience.
Rather than trying to create a mountain of presents, focus on providing one really great experience for the recipient. Experiences last much much longer in the mind. They are gifts that can be enjoyed forever and only enrich the giver and the receiver.
Equally, why focus on filling a table with a bacchanalian feast, when a well-cooked meal made from fresh ingredients will provide far more enjoyment.
We hope you have a lovely holiday. When I imagine my perfect Christmas I picture me, my wife and my kids cuddled up under a blanket in front of a log fire. All the other stuff seems somehow less important.
We already have blankets.