It may be a time known for peace and goodwill, but the Christmas holiday can come with more than its fair share of pressure, especially if you want it to be no less than perfect.
All that shopping, baking, wrapping presents, decorating, travelling and entertaining friends and relatives can be stressful.
But there are things you can do to have a stress-free Christmas.
Ways to Have a Stress-free Christmas
Set a date: Try to set a date for when you’ll stop preparing for Christmas and start enjoying yourself. After all, while you may feel responsible for making everyone else’s Christmas wonderful and magical, it’s your holiday too.
Make a list: On days when you have lots more to do than usual, try to make a to-do list first thing in the morning, or even the night before. Prioritise each task and tick them off when they’re completed. Also remember, it’s not a big deal if you don’t finishe everything.
Delegate chores: Ask others to give you a hand with the shopping, cooking and organising – you may be surprised at how happy they are to help.
Eat healthily: Try eating as healthily as possible, even if your kitchen is filled with Christmas treats. Aim to have at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, and try to resist having too many sugary and fatty foods.
Be prepared: Digestive upsets are common during the Christmas season, so make sure you have plenty of pharmacy products to tackle indigestion and hearyburn before the holidays. Ask in store today.
Stay active: Regular exercise can be helpful in reducing stress too, so try to make sure you do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, even during the Christmas holidays. If possible, go outside for a brisk walk – the fresh air can help you feel more alert.
Also, try to get in the habit of relaxing more, even if you only have a few moments to spare.
Ways to Unwind
Struggling to relax? Here are some things you could try that could help boost your mental health and make you feel calm, whatever Christmas and New Year may throw at you:
Take time out: try taking some time to relax, or do something that you enjoy that has no connection to Christmas whatsoever. Read a book, watch a film or listen to your favourite music for instance.
Breathe deeply: try doing this simple breathing exercise to relax your body and your mind:
- Sit comfortably in the quietest place you can find
- Inhale in through your nose counting up to five
- Exhale through your mouth without pausing or holding your breath, again count to five
- Continue for three to five minutes
Relax your muscles: if you have a little more time try a technique called progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tensing and relaxing your muscles one at a time, and may help you relax deeply enough to reduce your stress levels.
- Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable
- Relax as much as possible, and try to feel the weight of your body sinking into the chair or into the ground. Try to let your mind go blank by concentrating on your breathing (just breathe normally).
- Work upwards focusing on one main muscle area at a time. Starting with your feet, clench the muscles tightly and hold for a few seconds before releasing. Repeat, and try to imagine warmth flowing into your feet. Then do the same with your other muscles, working from your feet up to your head – including your calves, stomach and muscles in your face.
- When you’ve reached the top of your head, relax your entire body for a few minutes.
- Stand up slowly and continue with your day.