A guide to a stress free Christmas
As someone who has experience in stress management, I know just how tiring Christmas can be. But there are ways to make sure you enjoy yourself too. Don't get too caught up in the hustle and bustle. Make sure you plan time to have a good Christmas. Here are some tips as you count down to a peaceful, relaxing and happy Christmas.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
- Think about what Christmas means to you. If it is about being with friends and family, make time for them and don’t spend your hours shopping, cooking and wrapping presents.
- If Christmas is about good food, then enjoy the cooking, preparing and eating of good food and cut down on the other chores.
- If Christmas is about your faith and the birth of Jesus, then spend time celebrating.
- You don’t have to be Superwoman or Superman, and have everything perfect. Give yourself a break, relax and enjoy yourself. You will notice your family and friends will prefer the relaxed, happy person who has cut in half her/his Christmas chores than the fraught perfectionist.
If you have a large family or many friends to buy gifts for, it can be very expensive. You might be able to reduce the stress and cost of Christmas for everyone involved if you suggest a change in the way your family and friends give presents. For example, you could suggest that your group:
- Buy presents only for the children.
- Put all the adult family names in a hat. Draw a name out of a hat and buy a present for that person only.
- Give each other presents that can be ‘consumed’ on the day e.g. chocolates, champagne, cheese.
- Set a limit on the cost of presents.
- Make a list of all the gifts you wish to buy before you go shopping. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you could be wandering aimlessly around the shopping centre for hours.
- Buy a few extras, such as chocolates, just in case you forget somebody or you have unexpected guests bearing gifts.
- Some companies will also gift-wrap and post your presents for a small additional fee now.
- Don’t leave your shopping till the last minute.
- Buy your gifts by mail catalogue or over the Internet.
The Christmas lunch (or dinner)
- If you are cooking lunch at home, delegate tasks. You don't need to do everything yourself.
- Consider keeping it simple - especially when small children are present!
- Buy as many non-perishable food items as you can in advance.
- Avoid supermarkets on Christmas Eve.
- Consider doing your food shopping online. The store will deliver your groceries to your door. (Keep in mind this option is more expensive than visiting the supermarket yourself.)
- Eat out, but book now!
- Stress, anxiety and depression are common during the festive season. If nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal.
- Don't expect miracles. If you and certain family members bicker all year long, you can be sure there'll be tension at Christmas lunch.
- Avoid known triggers. For example, if politics is a touchy subject in your family, don't talk about it. If someone brings up the topic, use distraction and quickly move onto something else to talk about.
- Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or focusing on your breath, to cope with anxiety or tension.
- Plan for something to do as a group after lunch, like a walk.
- People under stress tend to 'self-medicate' with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. Remember, in excess these methods can be damaging for you and for others.
- Be moderate – go easy on the drink, don’t drink too fast early on in the evening and drink water later on.
- Get enough sleep - plan for as many early nights as you can.
- Keep moving - keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.
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