Christmas can be a very stressful time of year. For a lot of people the Christmas holiday period is a mass of complex social interactions with family or relatives, some of whom you may rather not see. There might be expectations or at least perceived expectations to create a “wonderful Christmas” with presents and perhaps the most important meal of the year. Some people rate Christmas as being more stressful than divorce or being burgled. Below I provide tips on how you might be able to make Christmas as stress free as possible so that you can relax and enjoy yourself.
1. Plan Ahead: Start making a list of things that you need to do for Christmas early eg. shopping, food and presents, decorations, seating plans or travel arrangements. If it is already too late, bookmark this page for next year and set yourself a reminder to do this in mid November. Try to prioritise the items on your list: can they be done now and are they essential? Do not overestimate how much you can do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Delegate the responsibility for certain tasks to other family members and this will reduce the workload. Keep your list for next year; it’ll need tweaking and updating but will give you reminders of the sorts of things you need to think about.
2. Know when to Stop: Decide when you will stop your Christmas preparations and start to relax and enjoy your holiday. Work towards and try to stick to this goal. Remember that Christmas is your holiday too.
3. Keep Calm: Play some relaxing music and burn some scented candles, incense or aromatherapy oil. Take a relaxing bath to unwind.
4. Make Time for Exercise: Christmas is, for many, a time of excessive eating and drinking and exercise can be easily overlooked. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress as it burns off hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and helps produce mood-enhancing endorphins. Try going for a walk after dinner as the fresh air and exercise will life your mood and make you feel better.
5. Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits: Overindulgence only adds to stress and guilt. Get plenty of sleep and incorporate regular physical exercise into everyday.
6. Take a Breather: Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may afresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include: taking a walk at night and stargazing, reading a book, getting a massage or listening to calming music.
7.Be Realistic: The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families grow and change, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold onto and be open to creating new ones.
8. Learn to say No: Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity.
9. Have Fun! Remember it’s your Christmas too so try to relax and have fun, laugh and be merry. If you find others around you difficult then rise above the situation.