Despite being the most wonderful time of the year for many, Christmas can also be a very demanding time for others. A lot of us feel a real sense of pressure to try and achieve perfection and ‘the ultimate Christmas experience’ for the whole family. This can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and vulnerability.
Here are our top tips for maintaining a happy medium to ensure that you don’t end up going off the rails this year.
- What’s your Christmas vision? – spend some time really thinking about what is important to you during the festive period; really get down to the nitty gritty. Is it having help to prepare the food? Is it teamwork when it comes to the tidying up? Whatever points you note, take time to sit down and speak to your family or friends about how it is possible to achieve them. Perhaps you can agree to schedule jobs in advance, get the kids involved too to help them recognise that everyone needs to pitch in. It is your holiday as well.
- Lower your expectations – accept that things will not go according to your perfectly laid plans; the children will fight, there may be some tension between you and a family member, the turkey may be dry. Try to imagine these things happening now and think about how you will be able to take them in your stride. Visualisation is a very helpful technique in these situations.
- Schedule some time out – diarise a minimum of 30 minutes each day where you are able to do something for you. Whether this is having a relaxing bath, lying on your bed and reading your book, popping out for tea with a friend or lacing up your trainers and going for a jog. Take time to enjoy some of the things that will lift your spirits. It is really important to ensure that you have some downtime amongst all the chaos!
- Honour your feelings – you may not feel like sweetness and light every day of the holidays but that doesn’t mean that you need to put on a façade. Be authentic and honour how you’re feelings; perhaps let a family member know what it is you’re struggling with so that you have someone to talk it through with before the rest of the family arrive.
- Don’t rush – Rushing alone creates tension and can encourage feelings of anxiety and stress. Pace it out. Take time to pull together a plan in advance and work to it. Make sure that nothing is left to the last minute. Slowing things down helps us to relax, and doing things mindfully will ensure that you savour the little pleasures in life as they occur.
- Know you can say ‘No’ – and nobody will judge you! You don’t have to be the one to host the Christmas party again this year and it really isn’t your responsibility to make sure that everyone is having fun. If you know you have visitors, why not arrange a short get together, time to give gifts, enjoy some food and drink and then say your goodbyes so that you can relax and have quality time with the family too.
- Go steady on the alcohol – we can all get a little carried away and end up consuming a lot more alcohol than we should. The problem with over-consumption of alcohol is that not only do we end up having a poorer night’s sleep, starting the day feeling tired, but alcohol is well known for its effect on our mood leading to irritation, anxiety and even feelings of depression.
- The irritating aunt – if you have one and you know there is a likelihood of tension with this person over the festive period, plan for it now. Confide in a family member so that you have a supporter on the day and if things get tense, calmly remove yourself from the situation and take 10 minutes to breathe. Some mindful breathing can really help, leaving you able to cope better with the situation.
- Random acts of kindness – do something nice for someone else, send a little card in the post to an old friend, collect your gran’s shopping, buy someone a coffee…whatever it is, do something kind. It will rouse feelings of gratitude.
- Make time for fun – engaging in fun activities and having a good laugh helps to release your happy hormones and will leave you feeling energised. Try and make time to ‘play’, you may be an adult, but we are all kids at heart and it’s important to nurture the child inside us too.