7 Ways to Have a Stress-Free Christmas

Christmas is a time to spend time with family and friends, take some time off work, and just relax.  But with all the pressure that comes from the media, friends and family, social media and even ourselves, it also involves a heavy dose of stress for many of us.  Just how can you reduce the stress of Christmas so you can enjoy it more?

Yep, this time of year is when everyone starts panicking.  The expectations that come with social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive types.  As many as 8 in 10 of us expect to experience an increase in stress over the festive season.

People worry about what gifts they are going to buy their friends and family.  They worry about what parties they are going to throw.  They worry about how to manage guests and what to feed them.  They worry about everything being magazine perfect.  They worry about pretty much everything you can think of!

So why can't we stop worrying?  Why has worrying become such a vital part of Christmas?  And why do we care so much anyway?!

The stress starts around mid-November, reaches a frenzy around Black Friday and continues to increase astronomically as we go into December.  In fact the stress is often so much that we don't even enjoy the run up to Christmas at all and people are wishing away the time until new year!  The irony of course is that no-one else is bothered and would much rather you stepped back and had a little fun instead!

Sound familiar?

All is not lost though, and there are plenty of ways you can minimize the stress and anxiety so that you can truly enjoy this holiday season.  This is the year to say no to stress.  To say no to worry and anxiety.  Take time to remember what Christmas is really about - hint it's not having a perfectly folded napkin, the best decorated tree or even who gives or gets the best presents.

Make a vow to stop being stressed and to remember what Christmas is really about.

So just how can we break the cycle of Christmas stress and have a wonderful time this year?

Here are 7 simple tips to ensure a stress-free Christmas:

1. Set a Budget

Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and there is absolutely no point gettign into debt for Christmas.  Minimise the damage to your bank account by setting a budget and sticking to it.

Work out exactly how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it.  Not what you want to spend, but what you can AFFORD.  Don't get caught up in the sales and all the buy one get one free or spend this to get this off hooha, make your list, set your budget and stick to it.  The hard sell is for the stores - not you!

Worth a read:

5 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money for Christmas
How to Start Planning and Saving for Christmas Now
30 Ways to Make Extra Cash Before Christmas
How to Get to January Without Going Broke

2. Plan Ahead

OK, I am the biggest planner ever and I LOVE it.  But even if you're not a natural planner, writing everything down, figuring out your calendar well in advance and making a plan will help to curb your stress.

Here are all the things you can plan now to get all the important events and dates in your calendar:

  • Make plans with relatives and decide who is where for which meal
  • Plan menus for the meals where you will have guests
  • Book tickets for theatre or ballet performances and pantomimes
  • Put all the important school dates in your calendar
  • Check times of church services and add those in
  • Add in times for all the fun stuff like carol singing or going out to see the Christmas lights
  • Book times or days to see Father Christmas

These will help:

The Ultimate Christmas Planning Guide
6 Ways to Get Organised Before Christmas!

3. Do Less

Tempting as it is to say yes to everything and to feel that you have to schedule every second of the run up to Christmas, don't.  You may well be the life and soul of every party., but what toll does that take on you?

By the same token, don't feel obliged to plan an epic Christmas party, have everyone to you on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, and organise the New Year celebrations too.  Just because you usually do doesn't mean you always have to.  Make this the year you don't do any of them, or just one.  If anyone moans tell them to organise something instead!

If you really do enjoy something, do it.  But if for one second you feel like it's too much, say no.  If you feel stressed about having to fit everything in, cut back.  It’s okay to say no!

If you do choose to host an event or even Christmas Day itself, make sure you delegate some tasks to your guests, ask everyone to bring a different dish, or simply rope in family to take on certain tasks.

4. Pick Your Battles

We all have someone in our circle that rubs us up the wrong way.  It’s only natural, not everyone can always get along.  Allowing someone else to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your Christmas and increase your stress levels.

Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait if relatives want to argue or things go wrong.  Remember, even the calmest of people can lose their cool over Christmas so cut yourself - and others - some slack.

Read: How to Deal with Complicated Families at Christmas Time

5. Exercise

Start fitting a daily walk into your schedule now so that it becomes a habit by the time Christmas comes round.  Just 20 minutes a day out in the fresh air - whatever the weather - will do wonders for your health and your outlook.

Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood.  It will  stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.  You might be busy, but if you can find the time to exercise even a few times a week, you will feel so much better.

Read: How to Fit a 20 Minute Walk Into Your Day

6. Take Time Out

With parties, events, gatherings and meet ups we are constantly surrounded by people in the run up to Christmas.  In the midst of all that remember to take some time out by yourself.  Go back to your calendar from point 2 and map in your time out moments.

Even just 15 minutes by yourself with a cup of tea will make a difference.  Stare out of the window, walk round your garden, read a book or magazine, or just sit with your eyes closed and take some time off.  Making sure to set aside some time for yourself every day is even more essential when we're busy, so make sure you treat your time alone like any other essential appointment.

The bottom line is that self care is a conscious choice and this is even more true during times of more stress, such as the Christmas season.  Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan!

Further ideas:

How to Fit Relaxation and Me Time Into Your Every Day
101 Simple Self Care Ideas for Busy Mums

7. Eat Well

The Christmas season is a time of indulgence, but stay smart and try to maintain your healthy habits even in the face of so much temptation!  A free for all on all that fatty and sugar-laden food will only add to your stress.  Try to limit your intake of the not so healthy stuff and have a little as well as your usual healthy food, not instead of it.

Enjoy yourself of course and don't become that person, but do try to eat a healthy meal before parties and have some healthy snacks in your car or bag for when you need to eat.  Make sure that you're getting plenty of sleep too, as you are more likely to over-indulge after a poor night's sleep.

Remember above all that Christmas is supposed to be a time for fun, family and relaxation.  Don't get so obsessed with how things should be that you let stress interfere with the most wonderful time of the year.

Read: How to Have a Good Night's Sleep

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