How to have a merry stress-free Christmas

The Christmas trees and bright lights are beginning to go up, the doors on the advent calendars are being opened, and I am proudly wearing my Christmas jumper.

The pace of life has turned up a notch as everything escalates towards the crescendo of the big day, making our work and family life seem hectic and overwhelming, and the pressure to take part in lots of social activities due to FOMO. Each year I tell myself ‘I am definitely going to be more organised’, as I frantically online shop for my daughter’s never ending Christmas list.

Christmas creates lots of routines and habits that are out of our every day normality. There are presents to be bought and wrapped, deadlines to be hit and for some, Christmas concerts galore, while not forgetting the food that needs to be bought and prepared.

Christmas signifies a time of celebration, connection and enjoyment but for many of us it can be a time of stress, expense, complex social interactions with family or friends we wouldn’t normally spend time with. It can feel like the amount of stress we endure is an inescapable part of the merry season.

You may be expected to, or at least you think you have to, meet everyone’s expectations of a magical Christmas, with presents galore and a feast for all…. but can I tell you a secret, you don’t have to.

To help you get through this season without launching a sprout at someone, take a look at some of these helpful tips for a festive de-stress:

1 Be mindful

Mindfulness meditation is a connection to the present moment and accepting it without judgement. We find ourselves so busy rushing and planning what we are going to be doing and where we need to be next that we forget to connect with the present and how we are feeling.

In December, focus on the time you’re spending now with friends, colleagues and family, rather than on the next day’s shopping trip or worrying what to wear to that party next week.

2 Learn how to say ‘no’

This is the only way to avoid overburdening yourself with too many commitments or financial pressures.

If you find this difficult, there are a number of subtle ways to say no without apologising for it. Try: ‘I’d love to, but…’, which is gentle and encouraging, or ‘I can’t do this today, but…’ to offer an alternative.

3 Block out time in your diary for you

You don’t have to fill every moment – pencil in an hour or an evening to read a book, have a luxurious bubble bath or simply do ‘nothing’!

4 Unplug

Switch off your phone and stop checking social media. It’s your Christmas, so why spend your time looking at other people’s and comparing, when could you be having a good time instead?

5 Family doesn’t always come first

Don’t feel pressured into spending a lot of time with family if it doesn’t make you happy. Set boundaries, including a time limit on visits. Meeting somewhere neutral, like a restaurant, can make it easier to part ways for you and them.

6 Set a gift budget and stick to it

Consider whether you have creative talents that enable you to make small gifts and cards instead of buying; not only will you save money, but spending time crafting can be relaxing and meditative in itself.

Good friends would probably prefer to receive a thoughtful homemade present rather than a last minute panic buy that doesn’t reflect your depth of friendship

7 Remember you’re not superhuman and you can’t do it all

Prioritise – writing lists is a useful way of assessing what’s ‘essential’ and what would be a nice addition if there’s time.

Delegate – even young children can help with tasks such as setting the table for Christmas lunch and decorating the tree, not to mention writing their own thank you notes.

Breathe – It might not be perfect, but having fun as a family is more important than your home resembling a glossy magazine!

Let’s not forget – it’s your Christmas too! You too deserve time to relax, have fun, laughter and kick back your shoes with a glass of whatever you fancy.


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