Christmas can be full of fun and togetherness, but it can also be a very stressful time. There’s the stress of Christmas shopping, money worries, spending time with relatives you might not see eye to eye with, and the worry that you’re just not going to get everything done. But the good news is that there are some practical things you can do to take back control and cope with Christmas stress a lot better.
Remember that perfection doesn’t exist
The adverts on TV all show happy families around the dinner table or opening their presents, and everyone having a great time. Everything runs smoothly in TV land, but it doesn’t in life. Don’t get so caught up in trying to have a perfect Christmas that you don’t enjoy it and you forget what’s really important, like enjoying precious time together.
Try to compromise
Does your other half want to spend Christmas with their parents while you would rather go to your family? Situations like these will crop up but the best thing you can do is learn to compromise. Alternate who goes to who for Christmas dinner and compromise further by agreeing to visit the other members of the family on Boxing Day if possible.
Make a to-do list which will help you work out what your most pressing jobs are. But remember, you don’t have to do everything on your own, you can get other members of the family to help, it is a family occasion after all!
Set a budget
It’s all too easy to go overboard at Christmas, but if you don’t have the money for a lot of gifts, don’t get drawn into the materialism just for the sake of it. Buying the kids expensive presents doesn’t mean you love them more. Here are some handy budgeting tips:
- Save for Christmas throughout the year if possible. Even putting a little aside each month will help.
- Try to buy gifts in the sales if possible. You can make really big savings if you shop around.
- Be one step ahead on Christmas Day
- Prepare as much as you can the day before so that you can hit the ground running and get on with cooking the dinner in plenty of time.
- Give jobs to other family members, like setting the table or putting out snacks before the family arrives.
- If something goes wrong, don’t get stressed. It’s likely that people won’t notice, and if they do, remember you’re only human and you might even give them something to remember and have a laugh about next year!
- If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, go somewhere quiet and take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focusing on your breath is a great way to feel instantly calm.
Are you going to be alone this Christmas?
It can be difficult for people who face being alone at Christmas, but then again, some people choose to be. Here are some things you can do:
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
- Consider joining a network like Meet Up who run events for like-minded people who want to meet others
- If you want to be on your own, politely tell people you have a lovely day planned, and spend it with some of your favourite films and nice food
Have you lost a loved one?
If you’ve lost someone, spend time around people who are happy to talk about them. It can be difficult on an occasion like Christmas when people are together and there’s one empty space at the dinner table, but it’s a chance to talk about happy memories you have of them. Remember too that you might feel like you need your space and you might not want to be around people who are jolly and that’s fair enough. You should be your main priority.
It’s good to talk
If you’re struggling with stress, whether it’s at Christmas or any other time of the year, one of the best things you can do is talk about it. Talk to a friend, or be that friend that someone can talk to. Talk to your GP, a counsellor, or someone from a helpline who will let you vent your worries without passing judgement. Just don’t suffer in silence, and get to a place where you can enjoy this Christmas and many more.
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