How to Have a Stress-Free Merry Christmas

We all have some stress in our lives, but Christmas time and the whole holiday season tends to make us feel more stressed than ever.

Are you wondering how to shrug off some of your anxiety and to finally learn how to have a stress-free Christmas? Read on!

Why is Christmas So Stressful?

Most people look forward to the holidays with great expectations for family, friends and time to enjoy the season.

Delicious food, much needed time away from work and the opportunity to reconnect with loved-ones. What's not to love?

But while the holidays can be a joyous time, they can also be a treemendous source of stress and anxiety.

Whether finances, family dynamics or other worries are at play, not everyone is excited about the added stresses that Christmas can bring.

One of the most common reasons that the holidays become stressful is the expectation placed on families who are sometimes overextended emotionally and financially.

The added burden to make big meals, provide gifts, pay for travel and overextend the budget feels like a heavy weight.

In addition, despite the Hallmark channel’s insistence that families all love one another and that being together is all that matters, many families are fractured, busy and unable or unwilling to live in harmony.

The key to having a stress-less holiday is all about preparation and setting boundaries.

Sticking to a plan that allows for the fun parts of the season without setting the family up for failure is the best way to ensure that everyone has the best time possible, even if it's not perfect.

How Can You Prepare for Christmas Stress?

The single best thing that can be done to prepare for Christmas stress is to acknowledge that it is part of  the season.

The stress we feel is directly tied to the expectations placed on a family that are above the usual expectations of every day living.

Just because the holidays are here, does not mean there is an obligation to over-extend ourselves.

If you have unresolved chores, bills, family relationships that are strained or projects that are unfinished, do everything you can to get them managed before the holidays set in. 

Clean your home or have a service come in and get things on track.

Head to the dump, donate to the thrift store and clear out your clutter. Clean your garage, your gutters and your closets. 

Refill prescriptions, pre-write your holiday newsletter, clear out space for the Christmas decorations to come down from the attic and make space for what you need.

Start picking up baking items or other staples that you know you are going to need now while you have a bit more time. 

Touch base with friends and family now and share that you expect times to get so busy that you want to reach out now so you won’t feel pressured later and they won’t feel neglected. 

How to Reduce Christmas Stress

Christmas stress comes from many different directions.

It comes from wanting to travel to see extended family and having to do the million and one things to get ready for a trip - washing clothes, packing the suitcases, and finding someone to care for pets.

Then there’s the shopping for gifts, food preparations, and late night holiday to-do tasks that never seem to end.

Sound like you’ve been here before?

Take a breath.

Christmas doesn’t have to be a hectic, stressful holiday.

If it has been for you in years past, then it’s time to make some changes, and stop the stress before it has a chance to start this year.

Stress is not good for any of us, and it's certainly not the way any of us want to spend our time.

Make the decision now to cut back.

Christmas doesn't have to be a sprint to cram as much in as possible, seeing everyone, doing everything, buying as much as you can.

The holidays are meant to be slowly enjoyed, not rushed through trying to pack as much as we can into every moment and get everything just right.

The true meaning of Christmas has disappeared beneath an onslaught of activities and gift buying.

Leading to monumental amounts of stress.

It’s time to fix that. Here's how...

How to Have a Stress-Free Merry Christmas

1. Narrow Your Focus

As busy mums juggling kids, work, life and everything else, we seem to have somehow altered our very DNA to keep us in constant busy-busy mode.

We take on too many responsibilities and then feel overwhelmed - and stressed and sometimes short tempered - at all that we have to accomplish within a given time limit.

But who says?!

Instead of trying to do it ALL, decide to spend your time and energy on what really matters to you and your family and let go of the things that don’t.

If your family doesn’t care if you make every party you’re invited to, then don’t go.

If you don't usually do Advent boxes, Christmas Eve boxes, seven days out of pantos, theme parks and Santas, don't start trying to do them now!

And if you do usually do all that, ask yourself - and your family - if you really need to.

Have a list of Christmas traditions that you really want to enjoy with your family and focus on those.

Spend your time and money where it matters most TO YOU.

2. Learn to Delegate Chores

You can’t clean your entire home on your own if you’re trying to get all of the cooking and baking done, too.

Enlist family members to help and if they can’t, splurge on a maid service to do the holiday cleaning for you.

Make it a gift you give yourself to help you maintain a stress-free Christmas.

Also, take a minute to remember that the dust on your skirting boards probably won't make or break Christmas.

If you knwo your mother-in-law will comment, plaster a sweet smile on your face and hand her a cloth. After all, it's SO kind of her to notice you needed some help and to offer!

3. Get Organized

Knowing what you need to get done will help keep your focus.

As you shop, try to keep all of your Christmas supplies organized and together - the tape, scissors, nametags, and gift-wrap all in one place ready to grab when you have some spare time to wrap.

You’ll save time if you don’t have to constantly search for what you need.

Eliminate any last minute running around for forgotten items by making an enormous list of everything you could possibly need and then some.

Then all you have to do is consult the list to make sure everything is ready, bought or arranged and you can relax.

4. Try to Stick to Your Budget

Throughout the year, finances can be a major cause of stress but that stress can grow rapidly at Christmastime due to overspending.

People don’t overspend at Christmas because they’re bad people.

They overspend because they want to give and make everything wonderful for others.

But when the holiday season is over and those January bills roll in, it can take a toll.

Instead, stick to a spending limit this Christmas.

5. Set a Time Limit

Just as importantly as sticking to a budget is sticking to a time limit.

It’s no fun rushing around, trying to cram months’ worth of visiting loved ones into a few days.

Know ahead of time who you’ll visit, on what day and what time you should leave.

Making a(nother) list takes some of the spontaneity out of it, but it also helps you enjoy a stress-free Christmas too!

If you want your shopping done during the first week of Decembeer so you can take time to enjoy the carols and the festive atmmosphere, sit down with a list of people you need  to buy gifts for and a laptop.

Just use our Christmas gift guides and you can get all of your Christmas present shopping done in less than two hours!

6. Self Care

Make certain that self-care is a part of the whole family’s lifestyle. Adequate sleep, exercise and down time are important in a season that is all about hustle. 

Do not feel obliged to say yes to every invitation you receive, you don't need to give to every good cause, attend every party or otherwise be involved.

It is a perfectly acceptable stand to say no to the things that cause you more stress than joy. 

It's easy to say yes to everything during the holidays. But if you'd rather sit an event out, speak up and say so.

Your physical and mental wellbeing still needs care throughout the holiday season.

Rest is an important part of self-care, so be kind to yourself and do less.

With less to do, you'll be able to be more mindful and present at the events you do choose to attend.

7. Get Outdoors

Get outdoors when you can. As cosy as snuggling by the fire with a hot chocolate is, you'll feel inifnitely better for a walk in the fresh air.

If it's snowy out, bundle up to go sledding, make a snowman, or have a snowball fight.

Winter hikes are often a great way to get in touch with nature. Leave your stress at home and stay in the moment as you breathe in the crisp, snowy air.

8. Let Go of Your Expectations

Try not to have unrealistic expectations of Christmas. Your Christmas may not be the Dickensian / Victorian perfection on a Christmas card, but there is still plenty of joy and delight in it.

Perhaps you were expecting a better gift from a loved one and are disappointed. Instead, try to see the joy in what you were given.

When visiting a loved one's home, don't expect the event to be picture perfect.

If your mum and your sister-in-law never get along, chances are they won't become best friends around the Christmas tree.

Be realistic about your expectations. And be ready to go with the flow. 

Keep in mind that the holiday season goes by quickly. It's a special time of year that should be cherished, so be kidn to yourself and others and find joy where you can.

9. Stay in the Moment

Remember the reason for YOUR season.

Whatever your personal reasons are for celebrating Christmass, remember to be present and enjoy everything you can about this year while it lasts. 

It's All About Boundaries

Setting boundaries about all things Christmas will definitely help to reduce the stress of Christmas.

Preparing a budget and holding to it, deciding who to share the holidays with and negotiating what activities to participate in will create a sense of calm in a potentially anxious season.

The key to making meaningful boundaries is to do it ahead of time. 

Before the season really begins, discuss the expectations, finances and opportunities available and make clear decisions about how resources will be used.

Once the decisions are made, stick to the plan. 

With these 9 steps you can keep Christmas stress at bay and really start to enjoy the holiday season on your own terms.

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