Christmas Stress - How to stay in the festive mood!

This time of year can be full of fun, joy and happy times with friends, family and colleagues. However, it can also be a very stressful time for you. Here are some tips for managing Christmas stress to make this festive season easier for you.

Relationships

  • Remember that it is hard to get it right for everybody…in fact, it is impossible! At least think about how you can make Christmas just right for you and those that matter most to you. Trying to please everybody can often mean that you end up not pleasing anyone at all!
  • Try not to spread yourself too thinly. If you have a lot of people to visit over Christmas week, then set aside at least one day where you have no plans and you catch up with things at home...this way you can keep resentment at bay.
  • Don’t expect people to get along just because it is Christmas! If you know certain people rub one another up the wrong way, then do not invite them into your home at the same time! As a therapist I don’t often advocate avoidance; however distraction and changing the topic is a good thing if you are sensing tempers bubbling in your home.
  • Don't expect your children to love going to see Santa or pose for that perfect Christmas photograph, particularly when they are very young! Try to take these things in your stride if they don't go quite to plan. Enjoy the season and stay calm and relaxed when out and about with the children - they are more likely to behave if you are!

Money

There never seems to be enough of it, does there?! Especially at Christmas we find our purse strings severely strained.

  • Plan ahead…after all we all know when Christmas is, so perhaps put a bit of money away each month.
  • If you have a big family then you could think about introducing a ‘presents for children only’ rule or setting a limit for each person or gift.
  • Save your Store Card Points and Rewards (such as Nectar) for your Christmas shop to pick up those extras that you would not normally buy.
  • Save your pennies (literally!) through the year and put all of your spare/small change in a jar. You can then cash it in near Christmas and use this money toward your food shop or gifts.
  • Learn from past Christmas’ where you have overspent and been inundated with leftovers – don’t go overboard. Do you really need three tins of sweets?!
  • Do your research when it comes to buying gifts – there are bargains to be had so spend some time on the internet, if you can, to research the best prices. This is a good time to read the ‘junk mail’ that comes through the door, particularly the supermarkets advertising sale items or reduced prices.
  • Get creative! It is possible to make your own cards, Christmas crackers, decorations etc. Kids love it too!

Loss / Separation

  • Be mindful that some people may have experienced loss in the year or have difficult anniversaries to contend with at Christmas. It is not always a happy time for everyone. That doesn't mean to say you can't spread some Christmas cheer to those in need however. Just take it steady if you are recently bereaved or going through a difficult time.
  • Skype and other forms of internet communication are great at Christmas if family/friends live miles away.  I have close family in Australia which can be hard at Christmas time, but keeping the communication going can reduce any sadness that creeps in.  Being able to see them on a computer screen and share in their day is the next best thing to seeing them in person.
  • Are the children staying with your ex over Christmas?  This can be really challenging emotionally.  We all know Christmas is an amazing time for children and I am sure you have done your best to 'get excited' too in spite of the fact you may not see them on Christmas Day or part of it.  Still go ahead and put the tree up, decorate and get all your favourite Christmas bits in.  Carry on with the little family traditions you have built over the years...you just might have to change the time/day you do these things.  
  • If you have the children on Boxing Day, then make this your Christmas Day with them.  Plan the actual Christmas Day for you if the children are not going to be there.  Be true to yourself and do what you would like to do...that could  be working, going to family/friends or having people to you.  It's okay to acknowledge feeling sad, so if you want to just snuggle on the sofa with the remote control with food and drink, then that's okay too! Just keep thinking and looking forward to tomorrow or the next day, whenever it is you are going to have your Christmas Day with the children.  

Food (and drink!)

  • Buy your non perishables ahead of time so you only have to worry about fresh bits closer to Christmas Day. A friend of mine swears by having frozen vegetables in case there is a carrot or parsnip shortage in the supermarkets!
  • If you are short of time or worried that you may overspend in store, you can shop online for a small delivery fee.
  • Cooking meats on Christmas Eve can also save time on the day. Then you only have to worry about cooking your vegetables and sorting out your trimmings.
  • If you have guests, ask them to bring the dessert or something else that will save you time.
  • You may eat to excess on Christmas Day with all of that scrummy food! Make sure there is plenty of salad and plan in a light buffet and leftovers for Boxing Day. Nuts and fruit are a healthy snack alternative for the season.
  • Be mindful that alcohol can be a big feature for many on Christmas Day and that includes drinking alcohol before lunch time! Please remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Don’t risk having a drink and then driving…it is never worth it.

A few more pointers...

  • Get organised! If you work, then plan ahead if you would like time off...sometimes there can be a scrum for days off at Christmas! There can be so much to think about from nativity plays, church services, shopping, and visiting, so don’t get caught out. You may not be able to do it all, so prioritise and be ready to negotiate with colleagues.
  • The lead up to Christmas can be the best part…once the day has been and gone, some people can feel low and experience an anti-climax. If this is normally you, try not to put pressure on yourself or anyone else that “this is going to be the best Christmas ever”. High expectations set you up for possible disappointment.
  • Plan something to look forward to after Christmas. This does not have to be expensive…be imaginative!
  • Relaxation techniques can really help to reduce stress symptoms.
  • Lastly, enjoy all that is free this time of year. Soak up the atmosphere in your local community. If you have children (or even if you don’t!), plan a diary of events such as light switch on times/dates. There are often Christmas Markets which are free entry. Check out your local newspaper and publications for what is going on in your area. Take the children for a drive one evening to look at Christmas lights!

Watch this You Tube video for a smile - Animals of You Tube sing "Jingle Bells"


Wishing you a safe and happy Christmas :)


Here is a link to some Mindfulness Christmas Stress Tips that may be useful to you...

Click here for more stress advice tips...

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