Welcome to the very very last blog post of 2018 everyone, and hey, why not finish totally off topic? I’m aware I’m writing a style blog over here, but after a pre-Project Runway chat with some friends I thought I’d end the year with the Mode & Methodology Guide to a Happy Holiday. This is kinda Christmas-centric, being as I’m kinda Christmas-centric, but really it applies to anyone who is getting a few days off work or some other interruption to their life routine at this time of year.
Number one: Don’t Buy into the Holiday Myth
We’re doing this one first because it’s fundamental. Make sure your expectations are reasonable; don’t play the comparison game.
Everyone is chums! There’s games and happiness! You’re surrounded by people you love and who love you!
I don’t know who these people are, but they’re unbelievably few and far between judging by my extensive network of friends and acquaintances. You might be going home to a stressy situation, or you might be holiday-ing alone, or you might have to spend your holiday with people you don’t really like – take comfort in knowing that you are not unusual. If the holiday period is, frankly, quite shit for you and you’re dreading it: you are not alone. This time of year can be totally delightful, but it’s also primed in lots of ways to be a storm of shit. Most people will experience both during their lifetime, so try to hold on and remember:
Other people are not living inside a Christmas Special - I’m willing to bet the number of arguments goes up 100-fold at this time of year; and
Even a storm of shit eventually passes.
Number two: Build in Some Treats
I mean, obviously. “Holiday” suggests sunning yourself by a pool with a cocktail, but let’s be real, holidays often involve being organised, compromising with other people, and realising you left something important at home. If you are holidaying alone, it can be lonely or boring (not for me, but I understand other people find spending 10 hours completely alone quite hard going). The solution to this, as to all of life’s problems, is TREATS.
“But Megan”, I hear you say, “I spent all my money on these ungrateful bastards/making donations to charity/my obsession with vintage silk jackets”. Gurl, treats don’t have to cost money. Here are some treat ideas:
Leave the house without your phone and do not return for at least 15 minutes. Hear that? Exactly, quiet time is the biggest treat of all
Give yourself a facial massage. This Lisa Eldridge video is my inspiration
Go somewhere with guaranteed dogs (the waterfront in Wellington is a good option). Find a friendly dog. Ask if you can pat it. Enjoy the surge of wellbeing
Sit in a patch of sunshine for one minute with your eyes closed
Number three: Just Agree
This one is HELLA CONTROVERSIAL but it works.
If you are going to spend Christmas with people who wind you up and are frankly, a huge pain in the arse, just prep yourself to spend one day/three days/whatever length of time it is being agreeable. This does not mean that when Uncle Fred says that Hilary Clinton deserved to lose the election because “she was too bossy for a woman” that you should say “you are completely right!” – it means, don’t start an argument. Just change the subject to something else. Just breeze past it all because you will never change their minds and why ruin your own day.
I realise that this goes against every fibre of your integrity, values and human decency. I know. It can be hard. You will need to be prepared in advance with deep breathing techniques and alternative topics. There will be things that you cannot put in this bucket – really bad stuff that needs to be called out. But I’m just saying let the other stuff go for a day. Accept that people are arseholes, and sometimes you’re related to them or required to spend time with them for society reasons, and that it’s not your responsibility to make other people better. Cut yourself a break for a day.
Number four: Conversely, Tell Everyone to Piss Off
If your holiday concept this year is making you feel: stressed; threatened; sad; or any other kind of unhappiness, it needs to eff right off.
I firmly believe life is all about choices. Every time I find myself doing something I don’t really want to do and I have the “nooooooooooooo” voice in my head, I play a game with myself where I think about what I’m avoiding by doing the thing I don’t want to do. Does this make sense? Let’s use a simple but illustrative example *puts on scientist outfit as the fancy educator I apparently think I am*
For example: a friend asks me to help her with a chore that I 100% do not want to do because I’m a selfish child. I’m tired, it will take ages, I badly want to spend some time alone charging my batteries. However, I agree to do it and I follow through. Why? Because in my mind the consequences if I don’t do it are worse than the tiredness. See how I made a choice there? It makes me feel better to think I am still the one manifesting my destiny.
HOWEVER. In life there are also things that just Should Not Happen. It is very important to check in with yourself and see if it would, in fact, be better to just say NO I WILL NOT THX. It’s really, really okay to say no. You do not exist on this planet to make other people’s lives more convenient at the expense of your own…not even happiness. Neutrality? Stability?
If you say No, and someone gets pissed off about it, those feelings are their responsibility. How do YOU feel? That’s your responsibility.
Man, I really have some thoughts and feelings on this one. Let’s close this out with a breezy number!
Number five: Make It All About Someone Else
Did ya know that being generous to others is a sure-fire way to make yourself feel happier? Convenient that this is the season of giving, oui oui?
Now, if you’re anything like me at this time of year it’s fair to say your attitude has reached the “if one more person asks me for anything I will in fact move to Europe and change my name” stage. So don’t overdo this – you are not a saint. Just do little generous things, like:
When you’re at the supermarket, buy that thing that that person likes, as a surprise treat
Put a note in your neighbour’s letterbox to tell them you think their rhododendrons are looking particularly beautiful this year
Tell a stranger that you think her shoes/bag/whatever are cool
Take a minute to send a text to a friend to say you’re thinking of them and want them to know that you’re really glad that you’re friends
These things are really easy to do, and take two minutes, but if you imagine them happening to you it’s obvious that they would give you a little infusion of joy. One generous act per day over the holiday period will have you feeling appreciably happier #sciencefacts
That’s it team, the Mode & Methodology Guide to a Happy Holiday 2018. Share your suggestions below, and have a happy hols!
Although this post is a bit tongue in cheek, I know that some of us might be struggling with more serious problems at this time of year. If you are struggling, please know that there is support. New Zealand has a range of helplines (like Lifeline, Healthline, and Shine) which are helpfully collated on this website: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/. There were a few I didn’t know about already, which I am pleased I do know about now (because y’know, a storm of shit could be just around the corner and I’d like to be prepared). If the holiday season has created a financial issue, try this website as a starting point: https://www.govt.nz/browse/family-and-whanau/financial-help-for-your-family/getting-help-budget/ . It’s a bummer of a time, money-wise, for many many people but the most important thing is doing what you can to take control of the situation. You can do it!