Easily reduce your stress this holiday season.

In the lead up to the holidays, life can become turbo charged. I’m going to call it ‘Project Holidays’. Project Holidays requires us (likely you dear reader) to carry most of the mental load of activities such as organising/decorating the tree, photos with Santa, Christmas parties, family celebrations, present sourcing/wrapping/exchanging and a million other things (advent calendars, Elf on the Shelf, NYE party planning, School Holidays). These are all added extras on top of the normal load we carry. Wonderful extras in many cases, but certainly extra work.

Where there is extra work, extra resources are required from us to execute. When we are running Project Holidays, we still have our normal (very busy) lives to keep on top of. That doesn’t change. What we need then are extra resources for ourselves. What we tend to do is to take from ourselves (less sleep, less down time, less recovery/relaxation) or take from our kids (more tv/after school care) or take from our significant relationship (less 1-1 time, less sex, less connection). Often we involve our families to share the load, but we are still the masterminds behind the planning and organising (which adds again to our mental load).

All of this is normal. All of this is ok. If we were talking about this in project terms, we would see it more clearly. But most of the time we absorb the extra requirements of this without consciously knowing what we are doing. And then… we start to feel overloaded/tired/stressed/resentful/disconnected. In short, Project Holidays can have a negative impact on us if we remain out of balance for too long. But there is an easy solution.

The Relationship Bank Account. This concept is grounded in the idea of withdrawals and deposits from each of the key relationships in your life. I’m going to say for explanation purposes that these are the relationship you hold with your Self (super important), your partner, and your kids. But you might have different people you name, and that’s cool. Make this idea work for you. 

Let’s unpack the ideas as it relates to you and your family:

You: Adding in extras (e.g. present sourcing/wrapping/exchanging) is a withdrawal from time spent relaxing and recharging. Staying committed to doing something that brings you energy (e.g. running, reading, baking, gardening) is a deposit in the Relationship Bank Account you hold with yourself.

Your Love/Partner: One night of Christmas Shopping reduces your connection time with your partner, so it’s a withdrawal from the Relationship Bank Account that you share. One quickie in the morning (yes, I’m talking sex!) increases your connection with your partner, so it’s a deposit

Your Kids: Extra TV whilst you get some Project Holidays work done reduces 1:1 time together. Kids need this time in order to feel secure and balanced – so it’s a withdrawal from the Relationship Bank Account you share with your kids. Extra books/snuggles/games increases your connection and fills up your kids attachment tank – which is a deposit in your shared Relationship Bank Account.

So whilst you are busy creating and executing Project Holidays, remember that when you pull extra energy from the key relationships you hold, from your best people, you need to top that back up later. Also, when there are high enough deposits in your Relationship Bank Account, you will have an easier time completing Project Holiday because you will have a calmer, more connected family system. If the deposits are too low in any of your Relationship Bank Accounts, then you will be trying to run Project Holidays on fumes. This leads to a downward spiral of resentment, upset, disconnection.

So next time you find yourself feeling stressed/overwhelmed/resentful think to yourself – which of my relationship bank accounts are running low. Make some deposits in them (no matter how hard it is for you to interrupt yourself!) and watch for the differences. You’ll find them. Guaranteed.

Leave a comment with the ways you add to your Relationship Bank Accounts.

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