Having survived two consecutive visits of family over the Christmas holidays, I am somewhat relieved to return to my normal daily working routine, which – ironically – was exactly what I was looking forward to escaping from over the festive season. The pressure of spending quality time with family, cooking the perfect meal and giving the perfect gift, all while sporting that ‘festive happy spirit’, can sometimes be too much to bear for us mere mortals. The reality is somewhat the opposite, including fighting with hoards of shoppers in an apocalyptic purchase frenzy, credit card overspend and shopper’s remorse, the inevitable new recipe Christmas dinner failure and, of course, the cherry on the cake of dealing with family politics, which is a direct consequence of the phenomenon of finding yourself trapped back into the family hierarchy that you so successfully graduated from when you flew from the nest.

If that is not enough to get through, by the time we have realized that we have survived Christmas, we are then faced with identifying our New Year’s resolutions, all while remembering that last year’s are now officially over schedule.

This somewhat depressing, yet realistic, experience of the festive period makes me question why we place so much pressure on ourselves to attain the unrealistic level of perfection that we are fed by the mass media. Perhaps having a more realistic outlook on this annual event will assist in reducing the stress and perhaps allow us to relax and actually have fun?

On pondering on what my big plans were for 2013, I came across the article ‘The Power of Negative Thinking’, which argues that we can achieve happiness not by trying to think positively and telling ourselves that ‘all will be fine’, but by rather visualizing and challenging the worst-case scenario. In doing this, we will defuse the power of anxiety and stress of not achieving our goals – whether personal or in business. Although most might say that this is a doom and gloom philosophy, I find this far more realistic approach rather refreshing!

You never know, in a year from now, I might find myself feeling overwhelmed by all the worst-case scenarios that never transpired and instead focus on all the good things that happened.

Britt Akermann