Taking the stress out of Christmas

Christmas is often regarded as 'the most wonderful time of year'; it’s picturesque, a time to spend with friends and family, and an opportunity to overindulge with food, alcohol, and gifts. Due to social media and the marketing that is done around this season, people will try to live up to the 'Christmas ideal' by taking less time out for themselves and feeling obliged to spend time with friends and family, spend money on an expensive and never-ending list of gifts, and attending work parties. The result of this social pressure can be an extensive amount of stress, guilt, and isolation.

In this article, we will be talking about how you can take control and reduce the amount of stress that the holiday season can cause with some simple and easy steps to increase your enjoyment of this period.

Six ways to be less stressed this Christmas

1. Budgeting

It is important that, especially in the run-up to Christmas, you set yourself a budget and stick to it. Avoiding credit cards and alternative finance options (such as buying on finance, or borrowing from friends or family and payday loans) will ensure that your debt stays where it is, and keep your future expenses and stress at a minimum. Only spend what you are willing and happy to spend, and that does not have to be much at all. When you have doubts, remind yourself that how much thought went into the gift is really what matters rather than how much it cost. Homemade gifts and joint experiences are truly priceless.

2. Me time

The holidays are jam-packed with people taking time away from you; whether this is as a direct meet-up with people or spending time shopping for someone. This can make us feel pressured, and can result in less time spent on yourself and your mental health. Every day, try and take just a little time out to recharge, whether this is doing a hobby, exercising, or relaxing in the bath.

3. Say no

It is easy to feel like you always have to say yes - especially at this time of year because of the values we assign to Christmas. But practising saying no is healthy and gives you headspace. Declining invites because you do not have the money, time, or energy is completely reasonable, and if they are good friends or family they will understand!

4. Ask for help

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, make sure that you ask for help. There is no benefit to struggling by yourself when the tasks can be divided out or done together.

5. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

More and more, due to social media, we consistently try to 'look better' and outdo ourselves or our peers. However, this is a key cause of stress. Look at your Christmas last year and evaluate what went well and repeat those things. The things that did not go so well - drop them this year. In addition to this, recycle what you have from last year, and save yourself money, time, and hassle by reusing last years decorations. There is no need to over-complicate things.

6. Simplifying

Speaking of not over-complicating things, make life easier by simply doing less this year. Fewer parties, fewer presents, less travelling, and less cooking. Do only the things that matter to you and your values. Being more present 'in the moment' and enjoying it is better than more presents. Furthermore, your happiness and appreciation will breed this in others.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Dr Gregory Warwick

Dr Gregory Warwick is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Director of Quest Psychology Services that offer counselling and psychological help in Salford, Manchester.… Read more

Written by Dr Gregory Warwick

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