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Stress-less Christmas in 6 Steps. Coaching for a Genuinely Merry Christmas Experience

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Is it really already the end of November? The autumn winds are blowing even here in Madrid and, most importantly, the Christmas season is about to begin. You might be looking forward to the festivities with joy… or dread the stress that Christmas more often than necessary brings along. Today we want to suggest a simple Coaching exercise that can help you get through the year’s end with more fun and less of the struggle.

Coaching is a process that involves asking the right questions and then coming up with an action plan that puts your insights into practice. So take a pen and notebook to jot down your answers. I promise that these 30 minutes invested in planning will pay back very soon.
Let’s get started:

  1. Pick your Stressless-Christmas slogan.
    We said we wanted to make this fun. So let’s start by finding an inspiring, yet down to earth Stressless Christmas slogan that will put a smile on your face and help you through the tough moments. What would you like to say to yourself to relax, feel more at ease and remember that this year can be different?
    • Keep calm, keep cool.
    • This shall pass, too.
    • Less is more.
    • Nobody’s perfect.
    • Simplify!
    • All you need is love.
    • Have a break, have a …
    • What would __________ (put in the name of someone really easy-going) do?

    Now, write your slogan on a little card and keep it handy. You can also post it onto your bathroom mirror or fridge (some of the action might be taking place in the kitchen these days).
  2. Define your areas of focus.
    Christmas is a complex time. So many different areas can turn easily into chaos and cause frustration. Shopping for presents, preparing food, planning trips to meet friends and family, organizing parties and dinners, interactions with others, decorating… if we don’t prioritize, things might seem overwhelming.
    What general areas of concern come to mind when you think about Christmas? Write them down, and stick to a maximum of ten, as you want to keep this manageable. If you have more, you definitely need to look into delegating or sharing responsibilities on some projects. Prioritize them in a list from 1 to 10, being one of highest priority and ten lowest. This is what you will work on. If you had more, decide now how you can simplify and delegate items.
  3. Get a clear vision
    How you would like Christmas 2013 to look like in each of these areas? One short statement per area is enough. Make sure to include positively framed statements that are clear, specific and realistic. Statements like “No silly arguments”, “Not get overwhelmed with the groceries” or “Not stressing out during the Christmas shopping” should be re-written into something like: “Have fun with my cousins during our family dinner despite the differences and unavoidable frustrations”, “Make a list of meals and needed ingredients by December 10th and have most of the groceries delivered (!) by December 20th” and “Bring the kids to my parents on December 7th and 14th to go find my Christmas gifts and use online shopping options as much as possible”.
  4. Identify how to best sabotage yourself.
    You said you wanted to have a good Christmas experience? Be aware that the most important ingredient in the equation is… YOU! Yes, there is other people around (loads of them probably), but this is not about blaming others. Forget about what’s out of your control and take responsibility for yourself. Identify possible barriers and typical pitfalls that use to get you off track. Sometimes in order to succeed we need to know how to fail. So take a moment to write down all the behaviors, habits or attitudes that would definitely sabotage your Stressless Christmas. It will be easier to avoid them, once you have identified them.
    Here are some favorites:
    • Not planning in advance, leaving things to the last minute
    • Get caught up in unnecessary worries about details
    • Wanting to do it perfectly
    • Thinking I can do it all by myself
    • Negative inner dialogue like: “I can’t do it” or “or “Always the same” or “Can’t anybody ever (fill in the blank)”
    • Start a political discussion over dinner.
  5. Define the reward
    Motivation and persistence both depend on the reward, on the “what’s in it for me”. Therefore one of the most important questions to ask yourself is: What am I doing this for? Careful, we are not asking why, we are asking what for. What is the meaning of this effort? What will you get from all these attempts? In this last step try to define your personal motivator, a reward that is attainable and fulfilling to you. By writing it down you will appreciate it even more, when the moment has come.
    Please find at least 5 endings to this statement and write them down:
    I want to make this happen, because…
    • I will feel so grateful, when I see everybody together.
    • We are creating a beautiful family tradition for our kids.
    • Christmas is about love and peace -and I want to feel it.
    • The pictures will be so much fun to look at afterwards.
    • I deserve to take it easy to start the New Year with lots of fresh energy.


Look at this list when needed. This is what a stress-less Christmas is for - it’s worth it! I wish you a wonderful and truly merry Christmas Season! 

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