The precarious combination of Christmas and family can for some people open the flood-gates, with a stress-nami of financial and emotional stressors getting in the way of what should be a fun-filled, happy time of year.
Clinical psychologist Kathryn Smith says Christmas brings with it a lot of expectation.
“As a child, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of Father Christmas and go to bed dreaming of what the big day might bring.
“Fast forward, however, many years and many of us still have fanciful ideas and expectations of Christmas day and whether you are playing host or guest, there can be a lot at stake. If you break it all down, they are by-large first world issues based on material things, that at the end of the day, don’t really matter.”
Here are a range of tips to help you stress less this festive season.
Don’t get too caught up with overloading the table – yes it’s fun to make sure there is a lovely variety of food, but leftover ham only appeals for so long.
Ensure you allow for some down time – do you have to plan a frenetic Boxing Day as well, or could you plan for some totally free time for a few hours in the afternoon?
Everyone says it – shop earlier than December for your Christmas presents to avoid the crushing crowds, ridiculous traffic and frenetic energy. Even better, if you know your brands and products – shop on-line when you can!
In the build up to Christmas try to ensure some healthy exercise or a leisure activity that you enjoy. A walk, some time in the garden, a hit of tennis with a friend. An hour a day of some time where you really don’t have to think much will help get you balanced for the on-rush of a hectic social period.
Don’t fall into the trap of insisting on perfection. Stress is the gap between expectations and reality. If you’re aiming for a fairy-tale day you could be setting yourself up for a whole load of anxiety rather than success! While it’s fine to have a vision driving your Christmas plans, hold that vision lightly. Reality brings real magic if you’re open to it.
Avoid the trap of buying for the sake of buying. It is common knowledge that material goods don’t always make a person happy, so rather than rushing around trying to find a gift that will ultimately have no real meaning, ask yourself what inspires each person, then consider how to give them that inspiration in a creative way.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” says Kathryn. “Remembering that no-one is going to starve to death or be horribly disappointed if the napkins don’t match may help you keep things in perspective. And try to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to stress, especially when there is more pressure.”