If the thought of Christmas dashing toward us faster than Santa’s reindeer is giving you visions not of sugar-plums but of huge to-do lists, maxed out credit cards, crowded shops, long-drives and fighting relatives… don’t worry, you are not the only one.
Many of us end our year and head into our Christmas break overtired, over-committed, overwhelmed and bluntly, over it.
In fact, research has shown that Christmas is considered one of the six most stressful life events, on a list that includes divorce, changing jobs and moving house. It is the time of year that people are most likely to feel anxious or experience a low mood.
Why is this? Isn’t Christmas supposed to be “The Most Wonderful Time of The Year” with kids Jingle Belling and stuff?
For many people, Christmas-time is wonderful; but that’s not everyone’s experience. For others, Christmas celebrations can be marred by financial pressures, unrealistic expectations, a sense of obligation, family tensions, loneliness, time pressure, relationship issues, grief, or simply reflecting on another year gone by.
If this is you, let’s think about some ways to manage your seasonal stress.
Prioritize Self-Care: Too many of us forgo self-care in the pursuit of the perfect Christmas. We run ourselves ragged: planning, cleaning, cooking, shopping, hosting and then cleaning again. This is often multiplied by several different events throughout the holiday season. We have our extended families, our in-laws, our work, our partners work, and our kids’ schools to consider; but what about us? When do we sleep, exercise, plan our own meals, or take the time to relax? Lack of self-care can contribute to stress over the holiday season. Take care of you!
Set Limits: You don’t need to say “yes” to every function and event that you are invited to, unless you want to! Its okay to say “no”: even if your only other plan is to order Thai takeaway and watch Netflix. Learn to be aware of your own body and mind; if you pay attention to what they are telling you, you will know when it’s time for a break. Take it!
Realistic Expectations: We can get so caught up in how much fun we, and everyone around us, should be having, that we forget to actually have fun. We don’t need to create the perfect Pinterest Christmas party, or to have a spotless house and a Michelin Star-worthy meal. Your guests are there to see you, not your house. Try to relax and be in the moment.
Feel your Feelings: Its okay not to be okay this Christmas. For some, holidays can increase feelings of loneliness or grief, especially if they have lost a loved one. We don’t need to pretend that everything is okay, or expect that everything will be like it once was at Christmas. And we absolutely don’t need to feel guilty about feeling this way.
If you try to be kind to yourself this Christmas holidays, you are likely to feel more happiness, peace, and joy by the time you dig into that Christmas pudding on December 25th.