Beat Christmas stress the smart way

While many of us look forward to school holidays and Christmas with the family, it can also be a time of great stress. 

Having our kids home from school when relatives and friends are visiting can add pressure to an already busy time of year, while navigating parties and social situations after spending so long in lockdown can dial up the anxiety for even the most extroverted people.

Setting up the house with the Christmas tree and getting buy-in from your partner to help with all the work that goes with hosting and attending Christmas gatherings can be a challenge. 

And then there’s the shopping. Buying special food and gifts for people – often with kids in tow – or scrolling online for hours trying to find the right presents can make this time of year very challenging. 

So what can you do to make things easy for yourself?

The main thing you can do is to calm yourself so that you can respond to situations rather than react. Emotions are contagious so if you stay calm, you will relax the people around you. 

It’s also important to remember that kids will be kids, guests will be guests, friends will be friends and relatives will be relatives. Can you change them? And is it your job to change them? The answer is no. 

Sometimes stress brings out the control freak in even the most chilled people. Focus on being conscious of your own feelings and emotions and acknowledge, understand and accept the situation the way it is. You can only do your best – the rest is out of your control so try not to stress if things don’t go as planned. 

Having said that, it’s a good idea to have a plan of some sort. By creating a schedule ahead of time, you will have a better chance of fitting everything in that you want to get done.

Being vulnerable and open about your feelings and emotions with your partner will help you cope, and asking friends and family to help is a great way to make them feel important and included. 

Finally, remember to breathe. When we’re stressed, we take shorter, shallower breaths which means CO2 accumulates in our bodies and makes us feel worse. Stop and take some deep in and out breaths. 

Being mindful of our own welfare in the midst of everything is a good way to anchor ourselves and prevent overwhelm so keep this in mind as you move through December. Meditate, rest, breathe and let go. 

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