When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind? Holding hands on winter walks through snowy fields, visits to Santa Claus and cups of hot chocolate around the star topped tree. Or maybe you think of packed supermarkets and never-ending shopping lists, of frayed tempers over the Christmas turkey and of an assault course of festive events. Whether you love the Christmas season, or loathe it, the fact remains that it can be an extremely stressful time of the year. Here is our advice for making your festive season as stress free as possible.
Lose the perfectionism
If you have perfectionist tendencies, then Christmas is sure to bring them out in you. The desire to have perfect presents for all, wrapped just so, and produce festive fare that even Jamie Oliver would be proud of. You run on adrenaline as you rush through your tasks, but this isn’t sustainable and pretty soon you can feel completely wiped out. This is an example of an internal stressor, because the stress here is originating with you and the pressure that you are putting yourself under to make things ‘perfect’. Be kinder to yourself and slow the pace down. Realise that ‘perfect’ doesn’t exist, and take time to enjoy life as it happens.
Limit the stressors
If the thought of Christmas fills you with dread, there is lots that you can do to minimise the stress you are feeling. Stress is a symptom that tells us that something isn’t right, so it’s about determining what exactly it is that is bothering you. Is it the thought of a huge family get-together, is it money worries or something else? Once you have identified specific stressors, you can concentrate on minimising them as much as possible. If a huge family get together seems unbearable, consider smaller gatherings on different days. If you’re worried about money talk to family about setting a limit, or create vouchers for an hour of gardening or an evening of babysitting. Understanding our stressors is the first step in dealing with them.
Calm the overwhelm
A huge reason for stress at Christmas can be the myriad things we have to do. From events at work, to activities in your local area, family events. And if you have children then you can reach a whole new level of busy! If you feel you are becoming panicked, take a moment to slow down your breathing by breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding for 7 then releasing through your mouth for 8. Keep things organised, and if you simply can’t fit another event then it’s better to say no than to heap more onto your plate.
Take time for you
You’re probably going to tell me that you absolutely do not have time to do anything nice for yourself this Christmas, but the time that you are busiest is the time that you most need to look after your own wellbeing. We often think we are only unwell when we have physical symptoms like a cold or cough, but feeling emotionally, mentally or spiritually unwell is just as valid. And like you look after your physical health with good food, take the time to look after your emotions by doing something purely for you. Whether you head for a swim, curl up with a good book or turn the music up high and dance with abandon in your living room, just do it. Think of it as your feel-good festive vitamin!
Stephanie Varda Life Coaching
Stephanie Varda is a life coach and stress expert working with clients to identify the behaviours, feelings and symptoms related to stress and provide stress management techniques that will enable life to be lived with happiness and confidence. Stephanie also offers an image consultancy, interrupting negative reoccurring patterns and giving confidence to enjoy life to its fullest.