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How to Stay Sane at Christmas

Do the holidays stress you out? You’re not alone. It’s a hectic time of year for many people, maybe even most people.

Nothing about our usual daily life goes away. The holidays add a layer of activities and responsibilities, both real and imagined, that take up time, money and emotional energy. Even if we enjoy many aspects of the season, there may well be moments when we wish we could rewind the calendar to somewhere in the middle of August.

As much fun as the holiday season is, it can also be stressful. While many of us look forward to the festive season and all it brings, we often forget the amount of work and stress that is also involved.  Here are some tips to help you stay sane in the busiest time of the year:

Watch your spending

Money and overspending is a big stress, so being practical when it comes to gift giving and sticking to a budget will help maintain lower stress levels and big bills throughout this time.

Preparation is key

Keeping lists is one of the best ways to be prepared at a busy time. So make lists for gifts and upcoming events can assist in tracking what is needed to be done when and where. Keep these lists with you, so that you can check them when needed and mark things off as you go.

Another great way to be prepared is to have a calendar somewhere visible that you know you will see daily. Make sure it is up to date with all activities and you won’t be caught out at the last minute. Preparing meals in advance is a good idea if you have a busy calendar. Make and freeze some meals in advance, that can easily be defrosted and reheated when needed. Make sure you have your event outfits planned, if not go out shopping well ahead of time or get your outfits dry cleaned and ready.

Avoid crowds

Last minute gift shopping is anything but stress free. Avoid the crowds and make sure they have enough stock by starting your Christmas shopping early. Shopping in advance also helps avoid the crowds and stock issues. If you cannot get organised early enough, take advantage of your local shopping centres that have extended trading hours. Shop late at night or early in the morning, when there will be less people and staff may be more available to assist.

Give yourself permission to let some things go

Take a moment each morning to gather your thoughts. Make a list of all the things you have to do and want to do. Check off the two or three items that are really important to you. Let yourself entertain the idea of letting go of many of the others — or at least reducing them in some way. Many of us make our own stress by buying into the “have to’s.”

Take time every day to enjoy something about the season

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of decorating and shopping and baking and wrapping. But are you enjoying any of it? Stop. Breathe. Take a few minutes to enjoy the decorations on the lampposts or to really look at the lights. Savour one of the cookies. Inhale the warm smells coming from your oven. Wrapping a gift can be just another chore or it can be a way to quietly celebrate what the intended receiver means to you.

Take care of yourself

Make yourself a priority and make time for yourself. Whether this means making time for your exercise routine, making time to relax and enjoy your favourite hobbies or simply having some alone time. Keeping up a healthy diet and a positive mindset is also important self-care. Remember that looking after yourself will make everyone else around you happy too.

We should do this all the time but it’s especially important to get enough sleep, to eat right, and to get some exercise every day when stressed. Self-care is not an “extra,” even though it may seem to take too much time. Time invested in yourself each day will more than pay off in your general sense of well-being throughout the season.

Choose carefully

Over committing yourself and signing up to do things that you really don’t want to do can lead to burnout. Learn to say no to doing things or activities that you simply do not have enough interest in or the time to do.

Plan some fun

Make sure that you plan some fun activities that you actually want to do, not just the obligatory work or family activities. This may include taking the grand kids to a Christmas movie, taking advantage of the warmer weather with a day at the beach, a casual catch-up or meal out with friends. Whatever it is, make it fun!

Ask for help

If all else fails, ask for help from family and friends. Family and friends may be able to assist with an errand or task that you are finding too stressful. So reach out, could one of your guests bring the Christmas pudding? Would your children like to put up the festive decorations? Involving others not only lightens your load, it lets them feel part of the celebrations as well.

Christmas is a great time to connect with friends, family and neighbours but it can also be a stressful time for some. Stress rates are higher at this time of year and a recent survey of more than 700 adults found that 25% of people felt stressed, while 20% were often fatigued during the Christmas period. 18% of those polled claimed to dislike Christmas shopping altogether.

Stick to your plans and don't be afraid to ask for help.

Good luck!

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