How can I make the run up to Christmas less stressful?

How can I make the run up to Christmas less stressful?

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, according to the song. Whether you agree with this or not, it can also be the most stressful time of the year for many people.

From family arguments over who is going where, to finding time to buy all the gifts, food and decorations, there can be endless challenges in the run up to Christmas. And if these usually fall to one person to sort out – you – you’ll probably need more than a dose of goodwill to get you through the season.

Plan ahead

Sit down as soon as you can and work out when you’re going to do the following:

  • Christmas gift shopping – have you written a list and do you know what you’re spending on each person? Have a look online or ask the person to give you some ideas of what they’d like. Then sit down and order what you can online. For everything else, plan a shopping trip in plenty of time to beat the Christmas crowds. 
  • Christmas cards – many people send e-cards now which takes no time at all. But if you like the tradition of sending and receiving proper cards, try to buy yours nice and early. Sit down and write two or three each evening while you unwind in front of the television. 
  • Get wrapping – lots of us stay up late to wrap gifts once children have gone to bed, but it’s important not to miss out on too much rest at this time of year. Try to spread this job out over the course of a few days and go to bed on time if you can. 
  • Food preparation – many dishes can be made ahead of the big day and frozen. Work out well in advance what you want to serve this year and see if you can get family members to help you. For example, one person could make a pudding and someone else could bring a cheese board or a starter. Or you might like to plan a simpler Christmas altogether, like opting for a buffet style meal or swapping the turkey for a supermarket curry instead!

Look after yourself

If you’ve got a lot on your plate at this time of year, it’s important to maintain a sense of humour at all times. It’s also just as important to take good care of your mental and physical health too.

  • Everything in moderation – it’s the party season so you’ll probably be indulging in more alcohol and food than you would do usually. Have a good time, but try not to go overboard. And whatever you do, don’t drink and drive (but you knew that anyway). 
  • Remember to say no – if you feel like the invites are spiralling out of control, don’t panic. You don’t have to go to everything you’re invited to – in fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. You’ll be no fun if you’re too tired to join in the party fun and you don’t want to be rundown in time for Christmas Day. 
  • Get enough sleep – there’s nothing worse than feeling ill during the season of goodwill, so try to go to bed on time when you can and get plenty of rest. Try to keep up with your usual exercise routine, although it’s easier said than done, as this will help you to feel relaxed and your body will feel better for it. 
  • Take time out – if everything’s getting on top of you, stop. Take yourself off and do something relaxing like having a hot bath or going for a long walk. Remember, this is the season to be jolly, so make sure you eventually stop running about and try to actually enjoy yourself.

Have realistic expectations

We don’t want to sound like killjoys, but high expectations can be a one-way ticket to disappointment. There’s an increasing pressure in modern life to have a visibly perfect life – particularly at Christmas time – but life just isn’t like that.

Here are some of the issues that crop up at Christmas:

  • Family tensions – if your relatives argue about certain things all year round, that’s not going to change just because Santa’s paying you a visit. Try to take it all in your stride. 
  • Loneliness – we can feel lonely at any time of our lives and the festive season may only make this worse. If this affects you, why not think about giving your time to a charity like a homeless shelter. You won’t have time to dwell on your own feelings when you’re busy helping others. 
  • When things go wrong – it’s okay if things don’t go to plan. No seriously, it is. Perhaps you’ve burnt the dinner or the dog ate the trifle. Sometimes these events can make your Christmas even more memorable and give you something to talk about in years to come. Try to laugh them off and accept that them as part and parcel of the festive season.

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