Beating Christmas stress

Ensuring that the most joyous, and busiest, time of year doesn’t become too overwhelming and stressful can be difficult for many…  we look at beating Christmas stress this season

There are so many emotional, physical and financial pressures and demands in the weeks leading up to Christmas that it is not surprising that some people find their stress bucket overflows with a feeling that they are unable to cope.  The ‘to do list’ is extensive – choosing and buying ‘the right’ presents for loved ones, preparing the perfect Christmas meal, deciding who to spend your Christmas with, making sure you’ve got the right thing to wear for all those Christmas do’s, putting up the tree and decorating the house … and so it goes on!

Here are a few steps to help you beat Christmas stress:

1.  Fail to plan, plan to fail

If the mere thought of Christmas is enough to send you into a panic, then getting organised ahead of the festive period will help.  Prioritise what is important to you, make a master list of everything that needs to be done and then allocate an action plan against each item, leaving yourself time to carry out each action (and of course, giving yourself time to relax too!)

2.  High expectations

There are so many preconceived ideas about how our Christmas should be; TV ads and social media being major culprits that project a ‘magical and flawless’ image!  As a child, Christmas is the most exciting and wonderful time filled with presents, games, sweets and fun.  However, as we get older the ‘supposed fun’ can often be wrought with anxiety and stress which brings disappointment of how we think and feel Christmas should be. Be honest with yourself about how you’d like your festive activities to play out; ask yourself why you feel you must do certain things and act upon them early enough to make changes.  For example, if family usually outstay their welcome, be clear, early enough for them to get used to the idea, about the plans you have and when you would like them to leave.

3.  Financial strain

Money can be a huge source of stress over Christmas with many buying on credit!  Try to set a budget and don’t overspend.  Broach the subject with family and friends and suggest you restrict costs this year.  Consider what is important – spending time with loved ones or lavish gifts – ok, we’d all like both, but if money is tight then don’t allow spending time with loved ones to be  tinged with anxiety over the forthcoming credit card bill in January!

4.  Coping with family disputes!

Family issues at Christmas are sometimes difficult to avoid; who you spend your time with can be difficult to negotiate and the notion that everyone gets together in one house can be a recipe for disaster – especially if alcohol is involved!  Disapproval is also a big stress inducer!  Try not to ‘rise’ to criticism or interference from family members by keeping calm and being the bigger person.  Try empathy over irritation and most of all ‘acceptance’ – some things are simply out of our control and trying to tackle them at Christmas is one to avoid!

5.  Christmas Day meal!

If you are assigned chef, then putting on a Christmas meal is a big task!  Prepare ahead of the big day as much as you can; some foods can be frozen or stored a few weeks in advance; peel your vegetables and prepare the turkey ready for the oven the day before. Plan your cooking times and keep to what you can manage – for example, you don’t need to cook the latest flamboyant dish if you don’t feel confident to do so – keep it real and keep it simple.  And if something goes wrong, try not to panic – take a deep breath and accept help.

Wellbeing People understand that excessive stress can be a major issue in many people’s lives and have developed a variety of mental health workshops and webinars around stress, anxiety and resilience, click here for more information

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