Christmas is meant to be one of the happiest times of the year and in many ways it is. It’s a time we spend with family, exchanging gifts and eating plenty of rich and warming food so there’s a lot to like. At the same time though it can also be a highly stressful time, and believe it or not it’s actually widely regarded as one of the most stressful ‘life events’ on psychologist Selye’s popular ‘Life Events Stress Rating Scale’ and is listed right up there with termination of employment and loss of a close relative.
And for anyone who isn’t looking at Christmas through rose coloured glasses it’s easy to see why this might be the case: you’ve got to spend lots of money buying presents for everyone, you need to prepare the house and provide a great meal, you’ll have to socialise with friends and family in close quarters whom you perhaps would not normally spend so much time with, work either gets a lot more busy or goes completely quiet, and you are often reminded of the people who aren’t present as you toast to Christmas with your loved ones.
But what’s important is that we don’t let these common Christmas stressors get us down, and that we manage the stress so that we can enjoy the festive season without having an aneurism. Here we will look at some tips that can help you to stay calm this holiday and avoid letting Christmas weigh you down.
Start Your Shopping Early
You’ve been told this a million times before but it’s worth saying again. There really isn’t any reason to wait until right before Christmas to start doing your Christmas shopping and take the entire financial hit at once at the same time as having to fight your way through the shops and streets at their very busiest. Instead then, buy presents for people throughout the year as and when inspiration strikes and think of this as an investment. You’re going to have to buy these presents so you aren’t saving yourself any money by putting it off until the very last minute!
When I visit Oxford Street in the build up to Christmas and see the thousands of people pushing their way down the high street, all I can think is ‘why’? Shopping online means you can find pretty much anything you can think of, and you can do it from the comfort of your living room. It’s much cheaper too so you can save money and look more generous.
It’s a mistake to think that how much you care about someone can be measured by how much you spend on them, and in fact it’s when it becomes a competition to see who spends the most that something has really gone wrong. To make life easier then for everyone why not just agree a set budget with your friends and family members?
Learn to Say No
There’s a lot of peer pressure that goes on at Christmas and this leads us to do a lot of things that we might not otherwise, whether it’s drinking more than usual, eating cake we don’t want or staying out partying later – all of which leaves us feeling tired, bloated and hung over. Remember that it’s your prerogative to enjoy Christmas how you want to and that you should ignore people telling you you’re ‘not being Christmassy’. Who made them the king of Christmas?
Scale it Back
If you found last year overwhelming then consider scaling it back this year, whether that means inviting a couple fewer people over or opting to keep it to just your close family. Likewise it doesn’t have to be the biggest roast of the year, just bake a few potatoes and have a bit of Turkey breast and you’ve got yourself a Turkey dinner. You could even consider eating out and letting someone else worry about it for a change that way.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on It
Finally, it’s important not to put too much pressure on the idea of Christmas being this perfect day. If your expectations are impossibly high then you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed, so instead just be content to have a pleasant evening in with family and let what happens happen.