While for many people Christmas is a time of joy and excitement, for some, it can be a very stressful time. Whether or not you are looking forward to Christmas, there is always a high chance of stress creeping in at some stage leading up to the day, and with the strange and challenging year that has been 2020, there are other factors that can make us even more vulnerable to stress during this time.
The Christmas season should be wonderful, but it can be demanding. What with gift shopping, organising food, family drama, the social calendar and all the other expectations we put on ourselves, it’s no wonder we all get stressed.
But we can be in control of our own stress. There will always be stressful moments and situations, but it’s how we respond to those situations, and the attitude we decide to have, that will determine our stress levels and how much we can allow ourselves to enjoy Christmas time.
So here are some strategies to keep in your back pocket during the Christmas season, to increase the joy and reduce the stress.
Don’t set unrealistic expectations
Be kind to yourself and accept that the day doesn’t have to be perfect. Your loved ones don’t expect perfection from you, and you shouldn’t expect it from yourself. The events of this year could also set some limitations, so some of this year’s celebrations might not be quite as you would usually do, but that’s okay – you can only do your best!
Set boundaries and learn to say no
During the silly season, it might feel like you don’t have much say in where you have to go, how long you have to stay, who you invite into your home and how much money you’ll spend. But guess what. All of these things are your choice.
You get to decide what is important to you and how you spend your time and money.
Focus on what you can control
You can only control two things in life: your thoughts and your emotions. You can’t control what your family argues about around the dinner table, you can’t control the price of hams, and you can’t control how busy the shopping centre is. When you decide to let go of the things you can’t control, you’ll reduce the amount of stress you feel.
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don't.” – Steve Maraboli.
Find low cost ways to have fun
If the events of this year have caused financial limitations on what you can do during the Christmas period, you can find some lower cost alternatives to what you would usually do.
If you can’t afford a fancy dinner and drinks with friends, organise picnic at a park or a get together at your house where everyone pitches in.
If you would usually put on a full family dinner, ask everyone to bring a plate this year. This will not only reduce your financial stress but will also reduce the stress that all the responsibility of doing all the cooking can put on you.
Make a Christmas budget
Set your spending limits, write your lists, and be organised. Having a plan for who you are going to buy for, how much you are going to spend on them and what you might get them within that spending limit, will help to reduce your stress. Then keep track of the shopping you have completed as you’ve completed it.
Use our Christmas Gifts Budget Calculator to help you stay within your budget this year. Budget for each person on your list and it will add up the total for you. It can also double as your shopping list to print and take with you to the shops.
Get enough sleep and stay healthy
One of the most powerful tools for reducing stress and anxiety is getting enough sleep each night. Not only will a good night’s sleep help with concentration throughout your workday, and lowering stress levels, but it will also help keep a healthy immune system.
The last thing you want to do during the busy festive season is get sick – this will only add to your stress and you won’t enjoy yourself. Keep your hands clean, eat a balanced diet, get your daily dose of vitamin D and light exercise and of course prioritise some down time.
Focus on what you do have and less on what you don’t. This practice can come particularly useful at Christmas time. When you have to spend time with people you would rather not spend time with – try to focus on their good qualities rather than the bad. If you are unable to spend time with people you want to spend time with at Christmas, reminisce on the good times you’ve had with them in the past.
Focus on the quality of your relationships
We have all been through a lot this year, particularly given restrictions and lockdowns. For many, this has made us stand back and assess what is really important. So, spending time with our loved ones where we can and supporting each other will help us all.
After all, Christmas is supposed to be a time to spend with loved ones, have good conversations and relax together. Slow down and think about what you want out of the Christmas season, and try not to get caught up in the hustle and bustle.
* The information contained in this report is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs.
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