Is it Christmas or Stress-mas?
Although a time of joy, Christmas can also be an overwhelming and exhausting period. There’s no doubt about it the festive season can be demanding, there’s just so many different roles to take on; organiser, gift buyer, finance manager and sometimes peace keeper, it’s no wonder that at times it feels more like Stress-mas!
Just why is it that what should be an occasion filled with happiness and relaxation is often fraught with anxiety, tension and stress? Well for starters it’s probably because we can get so caught up on making everything perfect. Trying to create that airbrushed Christmas that we think everyone else is having. Social media is full of other people’s amazing life moments and Christmas is no exception. Comparing your life to those carefully edited snapshots of other people’s magical festivities often leads to disappointment and unnecessary pressure. Read more about the pitfalls of the comparison game here
I think sometimes all the pre- Christmas hype can create a fake sense of happiness. The shops are full to bursting with festive must haves, shiny happy people in the TV ads, Christmas music on every radio station and in every supermarket aisle; it’s almost as if we need to be cajoled into the Christmas spirit. At times I wonder if it’s this commercial fake festive cheer that pushes us to strive too hard to create the most amazing Christmas experience.
Would we be more genuinely happy and less stressed if we didn’t feel obliged to go along with this image of what Christmas should look like. Do we sometimes go a little crazy because we feel that’s what we’re meant to do? Perhaps some of the pressure comes from feeling we’re a bit of a festive fail if we’re not enjoying ourselves to the max, popping the prosecco, finding the perfect gift or creating ‘magical’ family moments.
The reality is nobody has the perfect TV ad Christmas. We would probably be doing ourselves a huge favour if we stopped striving for perfection; gave up the comparisons and just focussed on what works best for us as individuals.
So how can we be more relaxed and have less stress into the lead up to Christmas? Here some really simple tips to help keep the overwhelm at bay.
5 simple tips to avoid Christmas Stress:
- Lists, Lists, Lists! – Most things in life are easier if you’ve got a plan. Making lists is a great way to keep things running smoothly and on track. Take time out at the start of Dec to create lists for stuff you need to do. Create an ‘A’ and ‘B’ list. For example, ‘buy Christmas presents’ would go on your ‘A’ list and your ‘B’ list will be who and what you’re going to buy. Making lists gives you structure and a sense of being in control; two things that help to reduce stress. Creating two lists for stuff may seem a little strange but making an ‘A’ list helps you to initially remember everything you need to do, and ‘B’ lists help you to section things out so you don’t have one giant overwhelming messy list. Buy a special notebook just for your Christmas lists then everything is in one place. When you’ve completed your lists go over them and check to see if there are things you could forgo or delegate to someone else.
- Let go of perfection– It’s often striving for perfection that creates stress and disappointment. Your mood can plummet when you fail to reach the high expectations of a perfect Christmas. Perfection is subjective, one’s persons ideal is different from the next person, so who exactly are you trying to please. Could you compromise and settle for good enough?
- Set boundaries– It’s often hard to say no during the festive season but it can be exhausting trying to meet every ones needs and you can easily get caught up in people pleasing. Be clear on what you can and can’t do and stick with it.
- Me time- The emphasis is often placed on giving to others but remember to carve out some time for yourself during this busy period. Last Christmas I wore myself out trying to do too much which I am sure contributed to my catching the flu, so this year I have created a self-care advent calendar. Everyday I do something that will boost my wellbeing. Why not give it a go yourself . Maybe practice a daily meditation (5mins is all you need), take 15 mins to read a book or a daily walk to clear your mind.
- Stay hydrated- with all the festivities and busy-ness of Christmas it can be easy to forget how beneficial it is to stay hydrated – especially when there’s alcohol involved. Keep you’re hydration levels up and no, eggnog does not count! Why not try some herbal teas to calm you and counteract some of that seasonal indulgence.
Is it time to make this Christmas your Christmas? Forget all the perfection you see in the TV ads and on social media. Forget those guilt trips, the people pleasing and the matching family PJ’s. Ask yourself how you would truly like your Christmas to look. Then work out what you need to put into action to achieve that.