Are you looking forward to a long break from work, time with extended family, gift giving and festive food? Even for those of us who love Christmas it can be stressful for so many different reasons. Time stuck inside for several days with an agenda of “having a good time” with family members who don’t all get together very often can put pressure on even the best relationships. For many Christmas is a particularly painful time of year, a time when the absence of family members who have died or left is felt keenly, a time when the things we find hardest in our relationships are most apparent. Here are some very simple ideas for reducing stress this Christmas.
1. Don’t expect too much.
Advertising around Christmas unhelpfully leads us to think we are all aiming to have “The Best Christmas Ever” and that if we just manage to get the right gift or organise the menu to perfection we will hit the jackpot. Remind yourself that however hard Christmas is, it’s all over in a few days and you will get through it.
2. Focus down.
Ask yourself what is the one thing I am hoping for this Christmas – what is it that you value most about the time – if having time off work is the best part then think about how you can make the most of the time to do what helps YOU to relax and return to work refreshed. If you value spending time with family try and let go of the pressure to buy the right gifts – focus instead on what you can give of yourself – your attention, love and care to those family members - which is of far more value.
3. Get out of the house whatever the weather!
Try to get some fresh air every day during the Christmas period even if it’s just a walk round the local park. Connecting with nature and taking some exercise can help reduce stress while being stuck indoors contributes to frustration and irritation with others.
4. Do something relaxing.
Whether you are spending Christmas alone or with others make sure you carve out some time to do what you really enjoy, whether that’s going to the cinema, reading a novel or playing sport. If you are a parent it’s natural to be very focused on the children at Christmas. Make sure you also find space for quality time with your partner and on your own.
We wish you a peaceful and restful Christmas and trust that whatever happens, you’ll get through it!