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Christmas Stress: How to cope with seasonal pressures
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many people Christmas can be less ho-ho-ho and more headache-inducing. In fact, according to research many of us experience increased stress at Christmas, without even realising that festive build-up is the cause!
With all the gift wrapping, the endless parties, the hustle of last-minute high street shopping and the need to conjure up a Pinterest-worthy Christmas, it’s no wonder so many people work themselves into a ball of stress!
However, there are things you can do to turn your Christmas from maddening to magical. Read on for five ways you can manage your expectations and make self-care a priority, so that this Christmas will be a deserved holiday not a period of panic…
1. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
From the right party outfit to the perfectly-wrapped present and the most amazingly-decorated Christmas tree, if you, like many people, put intense pressure on yourself at Christmas, it’s no wonder you’re left with a large helping of stress!
In doubt? Just ask the scientists! A study carried out by the University of London concluded that the key to happiness in general is managing your expectations and not aiming too high.
This doesn’t mean feeling gloomy. Rather, by being realistic of what you can achieve and not trying to compete with movie screen Christmases, you’re much more likely to enjoy the festive season focusing less on the chaos and more on the time with loved ones.
2. DON’T JEOPARDISE YOUR ‘ME TIME’
In the run up to Christmas, it’s crucial that you take time out for yourself, whether by taking long walks, booking a massage, or indulging in hot bubble baths (preferably with bath milks to help your muscles relax).
It’s also far too easy to get caught up with the planning, decorating and socialising of the festive period, but it really does take a toll on the stress levels when it’s all systems go, and me-time is low on your list of priorities.
A great way to seek out a little me-time is to put some boundaries in place. Realising that you don’t need to say yes to every social occasion or event when you’re feeling hectic is a great place to start. If you’d still like to remain social, but don’t fancy a big night on the tiles, why not suggest a cosy pamper night in, with some face masks instead?
3. MAKE A LIST (AND CHECK IT TWICE!)
If you want Christmas cheer instead of Christmas stress, it’s time to get organised! Many people wait until the last minute to start preparing for Christmas, and the inevitable outcome is an overload. Plan ahead, so you can minimise or completely avoid mounting deadlines and pressures.
The best way to get organised is to make a list. It works for Santa, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t work for you! Grab your notepad or phone and make a list of everything that needs to be done, taking a few minutes to prioritise things (consider highlighting in different colours based on importance). If you think some things aren’t 100% necessary, make life easier and get rid, not only will this prevent future waste, but will take the weight off your shopping bags, and your mind!
4. ENJOY YOUR FAMILY TIME
The thought of hosting and catering for the whole family under one roof can be stressful, let alone if you’ve got some difficult relations. Thinking you need to forge relationships and keep everyone happy can often impact your own happiness. Whether there’s a bicker over the roasties or the next film to be watched, the first step is to take a deep breath and some time away from the situation, to meditate and create a calm headspace. Taking a brief walk, or 10 mins to read can really help refocus your priorities.
5. ASK FOR A HELPING HAND
It’s merely a myth that you must wrap with one hand and bake with the other over Christmas! Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed.
So, what if you have an ever-growing pile presents to wrap? Get your children, friends or partner to help out! Or even better, say yes if there is a gift wrap option available in the shops!
And if you’re hosting Christmas at your house and have the whole family coming over, don’t be afraid to delegate. If nothing else, you encourage family harmony if everyone is working together to make the day special.
If you focus on getting plenty of downtime during the festive period, you should breeze through Christmas and emerge in the New Year feeling fresh as a daisy.