Why now is the perfect time for a pre-Christmas reset

Written by Katie Rosseinsky

Before party season starts to get into gear, now’s the perfect time to take stock and think about how to end your year on a high.

Time has a habit of seeming to speed up as we reach the final quarter of the year, and somehow Christmas is nearly upon us. The nights are getting longer, mince pies are on the supermarket shelves and the festive adverts are already trying to outdo each other in the heartwarming stakes whenever you switch on the TV.

Before we enter party season, with its influx of invitations, late nights, family commitments and steady flow of mulled wine, now is the perfect time to catch a breath and reset ahead of the festive period. Many of us will put pressure on ourselves as Christmas – whether that means sourcing the perfect presents, attending every event we can, dashing up and down the country to visit relatives or playing host. But by taking stock of your year so far in the coming weeks, and reflecting on what you might want to adjust, you’ll be laying the groundwork for a more relaxed holiday season.

“The holidays are a time when many of us struggle with increased work and personal demands,” says counsellor Juulia Karlstadt. “There is the adage of saying ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’, so taking time to engage with things that are meaningful, rejuvenating and centring for you is an important part of getting ready for the demands of Christmas.”

Making small but focused changes now could help lay the foundations for change in 2023, too. While January is the traditional time for reassessing your goals and making resolutions, it can sometimes feel like we’re setting ourselves up to fail when we attempt to give our lives a major overhaul at the start of the year. After weeks of over-indulging, we’re somehow supposed to ditch all our bad behaviour patterns and acquire plenty of healthy new ones overnight (all while managing to squeeze exercise into some of the shortest, coldest days of the year). But if you’ve put in the work beforehand, you’ll probably be well on the way to forming better habits anyway by the time January rolls around. 

Ready for a pre-Christmas reset? We’ve asked two experts for their tips on how to end the year on a high. 

Think carefully about what you value – and make time for it

“A simple way to take stock before Christmas is to think about your four life domains: work/education, relationships, hobbies, and mental and physical health,” recommends Karlstadt. Then, she says, take some time to consider the activities, behaviours and people which “give that part of your life meaning”, and work out how you can bring more of those things into your daily life.

“Focus on the quality of the things you engage with rather than the quantity to keep from setting unrealistic and inflexible goals for yourself,” she says. “For example, if you want to restart or begin going to the gym, focus on having a good workout when you go rather than on the number of times you make it in a week.”

Work out what you actually want from Christmas

Take time to think about what you really want from the festive season and beyond

No, we’re not talking about crafting the perfect gift list. Spend some time considering what you want to get from your time off. “Think about your Christmas values,” says Dr Jenna Vyas-Lee, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Kove. “You can’t do everything without burning out physically, emotionally [and] financially, so what is most important to you? Is it socialising with friends, family, or work [colleagues] or is it the idea of giving thoughtful gifts? Is it spending time alone or doing some charity work?”

Once you’ve worked that out, she recommends that you “spend a few hours with your calendar and schedule time for your preferred activities. Ringfence this time and make sure you stick to it.” 

Curb your social media habit

We all know that comparison culture thrives on social media, and never more so than in the run-up to Christmas. Scrolling through Instagram, it can be hard not to wonder whether everyone else is having a better, more photogenic time than you. We’re not advocating a full pre-Christmas digital detox, but try to be more mindful when you’re looking at other people’s posts and maybe consider scaling back the time you spend online.

“Tell yourself every day that behind every ‘perfect’ social media post is usually a number of photos that represent the opposite of what you can see,” advises Vyas-Lee. “Better still, limit social media over the next few weeks to help yourself stay true to your own values.” 

Set some boundaries

Yes, we know, boundaries and Christmas don’t usually tend to go hand in hand, but putting some expectations in place, whether that’s just personally or with friends and family, can help to take the stress out of the festivities (especially as many of us will be particularly budget conscious this year after months of rising bills).

“Communicate with others about what you can realistically give to them in terms of time or gifts,” says Vyas-Lee. “If it feels too shaming (which it shouldn’t, but let’s be realistic) then utilise environmental factors like the cost of living crisis or climate change.”

Part of this, of course, will mean having to say ‘no’ to some things, whether that’s turning down a party invitation or being realistic about the amount of work you can actually take on and complete before the holidays. Saying ‘no’ to “things you don’t have the capacity for right now”, Karlstadt notes, will mean that you “can say ‘yes’ at Christmas” instead. 

Images: Getty

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