Tips for a Stress Free Christmas!

While Christmas actually occurs specifically on December 25th, it is festival which starts much earlier – with Christmas decorations in shops starting to go up in early October! Even if you love the festive season, it can’t be denied that it can be a stress-fest for a wide variety of reasons. Nearing Christmas, we are bombarded, for example, with films which often focus on family love and happiness. If this is your experience, this is wonderful but we need to acknowledge too, that for many people, Christmas can be very isolating and lonely. Not every family fits the idyllic image of the Christmas movie and some people simply don’t have any at all. Moreover there are groups of people (for example, the homeless) who feel totally alienated by the Christmas hype, which only serves to reinforce their position as outsiders.

It can also be very financially draining for a lot of people, especially those with children. Many people get into monetary difficulties over the Christmas period, with gifts and food ending up as credit card debt in the New Year. ‘Blue Monday’ is a term which reflects this. This is typically the third Monday of January when the bills start to arrive after Christmas and it is said to be the ‘most depressing day of the year’.

So how can we try to avoid the Christmas stress this year?

There are various ways that we can prepare for a calmer and happier festive season:

  • Make some lists! As we all know, Christmas doesn’t just happen by magic. There are gifts to buy, food to buy and prepare, occasions to organise. It’s a great feeling, crossing off items on a list and helps you to acknowledge that you are making progress.
  • Re-think cards if you can. Whilst it’s nice to keep in touch with friends and family who you don’t often see, we often end up giving cards to those we see everyday as well. Why not simplify that this year and cut down on the cards that you send? Even better, use the money that you save and donate to a charity of your choice. That way, a good cause benefits and you save time. And of course, you don’t create so much waste either – a win-win all round!
  • Look at your food To Do lists with a critical eye – is it really necessary, for example, that you make everything yourself? Will Christmas be a disaster if you buy your cake this year rather than spend hours making it yourself..? Would it really spoil the day if you didn’t roast the potatoes and used shop-bought ones instead? Pick the preparations that you enjoy and simplify the rest!
  • Manage your expectations – of yourself, other people and the celebration as a whole. Everything does not have to be perfect to be enjoyable.
  • When it comes to Christmas parties, events and get togethers, allow yourself to actually choose whether you want to attend or not. They are not obligatory and you really are allowed to say no if you want to! Spreading yourself too thin and over-indulging (particularly if you don’t actually want to) is not a recipe for calm.
  • Remember that you don’t need to stick to traditions if they simply don’t work for you. You don’t need to cook a huge meal, for example, unless you choose to. A family celebration at the local pub can be just as enjoyable – and nobody is run ragged or has to spend their whole day in the kitchen. The rule is to have fun! If you love preparing the Christmas meal, then go for it. If you really don’t, then shake things up a bit!
  • Presents are just one aspect of Christmas and, if you are on a tight budget, they can create stress and financial hardship. If this sounds familiar, talk to your family about cutting down on gifts or restricting the amount of money you spend on each other. It makes no difference whether you open an expensive gift on Christmas morning or a thoughtful cheaper one. Christmas needn’t break the bank.

Above all, remember to have fun – Enjoy!