T’is the season….

Does the thought of the festive season fill you with a sense of joy or dread?  Leilani Mitchell unwraps some ‘working styles’ and presents the possibility of a stress-free Christmas.

There’s an ideal view of Christmas and there’s the stressful reality. Christmas like anything can become a habit and follow a pattern of behaviour. If you generally find Christmas a disappointment and yet carry on doing the things that you have always done, you will end up with the same outcomes.

Why not decide to do it differently this year? By being aware of our own process and patterns we can change them.

Working styles (sometimes called Drivers) are ways we can use to look at the patterns of our behaviour. They are very useful, but under stress can be destructive.

There are five working styles. We can do all of them but each person tends to have one or two main ones.

1. ‘Be Perfect’ -These people want everything to be perfect. They like things to be organised and structured and to go to plan, they don’t cope very well if there are changes to the plan. These people work too hard and have expectations that things will be ‘just so’. The food will be cooked to perfection and the host will be shattered and have put a huge amount of pressure on her/himself to get things to this standard

2.‘Try Hard’ – These people often have lots of energy for new projects but rarely complete anything. They struggle either with what they are doing or with other people, often getting into conflict. They might try to do the wrapping, decorate the tree, and write the Christmas cards all at the same time and not finish any of these tasks. Cooking dinner for these people is a struggle, it could well be late and incomplete but will be lots of fun.

3. ‘Be Strong’ – These people believe that they can cope with everything. They would succeed at doing the wrapping, decorate the tree, and write the Christmas cards all at the same time but pace themselves. They will work their way through cooking Christmas dinner even if the oven breaks down. At the same time they are likely to not want to have many people around, preferring the company of a few close friends. Alternatively they may appear happy to spend Christmas on their own with a microwave turkey meal.

4. ‘Hurry Up’ – These people rush around at speed. Doing the wrapping, decorating the tree, and writing the Christmas cards all at the same time is the norm for them – just don’t expect the end product to look great!! These are the people that are flitting from one thing to another. Don’t expect them to sit quietly watching the afternoon movie; they are more likely to be on an after lunch walk at double quick speed!!

5. ‘Please Others’ – These people aim to keep everyone happy. They have spent time making sure that they have brought presents that people will really like. They will want Christmas to be a nice family affair with everyone getting on. Christmas with these people will be a pleasing affair as long as they succeed in pleasing. Should they fail, they are likely to be tearful and upset. They feel upset if people are not enjoying themselves

Each of these styles has advantages but under stress, as often happen around the festive season, we become more extreme in our styles. ‘Be Perfects’ become more obsessed with perfection. ‘Try Hards’ take on even more. ‘Be Strongs’ become more self-reliant and will not ask for help. ‘Please Others’ can run themselves into the ground to please others. ‘Hurry Ups’ – speed up still further.

There are many things that you can do to reduce your stress levels. Think about your working style and what you need to do and say to yourself.

– Be Perfect should relax and give yourself a break. Have fun first and do the chores afterwards. Accept that things will not be perfect and that is OK.

– Be Strong should make sure you take enough space and withdrawal time for yourself. All that socialising can be very wearing.

– Try Hards should stop and engage your thinking. It is OK to say no and to miss out on things sometimes. Organise yourself and things will be easier.

– Hurry Ups should slow down. This is your holiday time too. It’s all right for you to take your time.

– Please Others should learn that it’s OK to please yourself. You can prioritise what you want during this time and still have a good time. You can say ‘no’ even if others don’t like it.

This awareness can enable you have the Christmas that you want. Don’t expect perfection; know that it is ok to ask for support, to say ‘no’, to have an easy life and to slow down – you have plenty of time! This way we can all have a jolly and stress free festive season.

By Leilani Mitchell

These are my random ramblings today; tomorrow I might change my mind.

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