“Sometimes we strive so hard for perfection that we forget that imperfection is happiness.”
– Karen Nave
🎼 It’s the most wonderful time of the year🎄
Well, to be honest, for many the weeks leading up to Xmas and Xmas itself are rather stressful. So much to do, so many events to attend, so much money involved, so many cards to write and cookies to bake, such a complicated family to get around one table…The list of stress factors can be rather long.
When you are suffering from (pre)Xmas stress, you may want to go through a list of 10 tips to avoid exactly this, so you can enjoy a relaxed and wonderful Xmas this year!
1. Limit your spending
Many people experience buying presents as stressful. It can be that you find it hard what to buy and/or the huge amount of money you spend on presents may cause you stress. Since many of us already have got so much, it is a valid question to ask yourself if all your gifts for others really add to their happiness. Is it really needed to spend so much time and money on buying presents?
A friend of mine decided a few years back to stop buying Xmas presents and to donate the amount of money she used to spend on presents to a charity. Each Xmas, while they enjoy each other’s company, her family decides which charity they are going to support the coming year. Wow, that is the Xmas spirit!
2. Be realistic
Life isn’t perfect, so why should Xmas be? Social media and the such bombard us with these perfect pictures with tastefully decorated homes, houses surrounded by freshly fallen snow and happy families sharing a large dinner cooked to picture-postcard perfection.
Yeah! Well, that’s social media and we are talking about Xmas in real life and real life is simply more complex and everything but perfect! Lower your expectations and be realistic. Doing so will limit your stress and it will make room for fun (see also tip 10) and happiness instead.
3. Ask for help
Who said you have to do all the shopping, cooking and decorating? Delegate tasks. That means things may not be as perfect as you would have wished them to be, but the idea is that you enjoy Xmas and that can go perfectly well with imperfections (see tip 2)!
4. Take time out
I am convinced you know how to recharge your batteries. Make sure to do so in this time of the year too. My friends and I always have a ridiculously long breakfast on the 24th. You should know that Xmas Eve is when Xmas is celebrated in the German speaking countries in Europe. This means that we all have an evening with an exquisite meal, visiting relatives and gift giving ahead of us…and still we deliberately start the day in a relaxing way and in good company.
5. Say no
There are so many social events that you get invited to in the weeks before Xmas. Those of you with children can add all kinds of school activities around Xmas to that list of social events. There is nowhere written though that you have to attend each and every single one of them. There is also nowhere written that you have to see everyone in your family over Xmas or write a Xmas card to everyone you know. Keep things in a healthy perspective for you as well as your loved ones.
6. Avoid overindulging
Delicious food and drinks are everywhere during the holiday season and stress raises appetite and makes you crave sugary and fatty foods. What a toxic combination! Keep a healthy balance. Enjoy the seasonal treats, but control your portions. You can have an equally good time when eating and drinking moderately and you will be ever so happy after Xmas when you have done so! No need to feel stressed afterwards because you have eaten or drunk excessively.
7. Go for a walk
Going for a walk is a very good and healthy way to reduce stress. You can read here what other advantages going for a walk brings both your body and mind.
8. Get off social media
Xmas should be spend with your real family and friends, so stay away from social media. This way you are prioritising your real life and it has the additional advantage of not falling for the comparison trap that social media can be (see also tip 2). When you start comparing yourselves to other people, you’re playing a game you’ll never win and one that will only cause you stress. It’s far better to play real games with the ones you spend your Xmas with (see also tip 10)!
9. Manage family gatherings
Some people are blessed with families that get along brilliantly, others less so and there are many families in which divorces make getting or being together a complicated affair.* Xmas can be a real challenge for family gatherings. Expectations somehow seem to be that over Xmas conflicts and the such will not arise. Well, if they do otherwise, they will do so over Xmas too (see tip 2: be realistic). How to manage potential tensions?
- Take a break now and then (even if it’s just 5 minutes outside or a longer visit to the bathroom)
- Give “troublesome” people a task, so they are busy with other things than criticising
- Put the interest of the children first and communicate this, which puts things in a healthy perspective for adults
- Stick to your normal routine with your kids as much as possible
- Avoid certain discussion topics
- Be flexible (remember that Xmas is not about perfection)
- Look for the good!
- Have fun!
10. Have fun
Having fun is always good, but in light of stress reduction, laughter has got additional bonus. Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles. Laughter also boosts circulation, helps muscles relax, and lessens the physical symptoms that are associated with stress. So, all the more reason to add some fun to your Xmas this year. It can be having fun while baking cookies, decorating the tree or playing games. I am sure you will know what your (family’s) type of fun activities are. Enjoy them!
Bonus tip: Plan ahead for the next holiday season
Christmas supplies, such as decorations and gift wrap, are often available at a discount in the week after Christmas. You can save both time and money and it’s one thing less on your Xmas to-do-list for next year. Oh, and in case you are into buying presents, it’s easy enough to buy Xmas presents any time of year or to write down ideas for presents during the year and do a lot of online shopping in December.
Wishing you a relaxed, relaxing and very merry Xmas!
*For those of you coming from a dysfunctional family, you may want to read this article from the Irish Times. It will show you you’re not the only one and may give you some helpful ideas.