With just a few weeks to go, are you looking forward to Christmas or dreading it? Does the prospect of spending enforced time with relatives worry you? Are you anxious about getting into debt at Christmas or making a fool of yourself at the office Christmas party?
Christmas is the most stressful time of the year so here are my tips to survive it:
Planning is Key
Whatever you do, you need to plan Christmas well in advance to minimise the pressure. This is where your time management skills are really useful. Plan what to do and by when. For example, order presents, food and drink from the Internet well in advance to avoid last minute panic buys and busy shops – and don’t overdo it.
Avoiding Debt at Christmas
Budget how much you have to spend – and only what you can afford. Christmas is about being with people you love, not about buying the most expensive present possible or having a table overflowing with food.
Allocate how much of this budget can be spent on food and how much on presents. Then allocate how much you will spend on each person. Make a list of what you will buy each person and stick to it. Sometimes the simplest presents are the best. If funds are tight, consider making it a family rule that no present should exceed a nominal amount. This can be really fun and will waken up those creative juices, avoids the family rivalry of who spent the most and brings Christmas to what its really all about. One of the nicest gifts I received were some hand-made biscuits beautifully packaged.
Now, make a food shopping list, and stick to it. Many people waste a phenominal amount of food. You don’t need every type of chocolate and every type of cheese and twelve deserts to choose from. Moderation is key. It will help your waistline too!
Keeping Your Job After The Office Party
We all want to have fun, but we also want to be able to face our colleagues and bosses the next day. Well, that’s the plan, anyway. But with alcohol, everything can go a bit awry. We can either become ‘over-affectionate’ or tell people what we really think about them. The trick is to let your hair down without all of your inhibitions! Moderation is key when it comes to alcohol. Know your limits and stick to it. Never mind what everyone else is doing. If necessary, nominate yourself as the driver for the evening so you can’t drink. It might also be about avoiding those people who you don’t get on with, or deciding to get to know them better and build some bridges beforehand.
If the worst comes to the worst, I am told that Humble Pie tastes very good!
The Good, The Family and the Ugly
High expectations often lead to tensions and disappointment and Christmas is renowned for family disputes. Keep your Christmas sweet by being realistic about what to expect so that tiny spats don’t develop into full-blown rows.
If you’re the organiser, empower family members to do things for themselves and involve them in the preparations so you’re not left doing everything. Don’t be a martyr – its your Christmas too! Sharing the chores, including asking a younger member to take care of Great-Aunt Beth who can’t hear and needs her food cut into tiny pieces, can really help develop a convivial family atmosphere if done in the right way. Remember that Christmas is about the Spirit of Goodwill which doesn’t mean it all has to come from you!
If you aren’t the organiser, don’t assume that everything gets done by magic – pitch in and help out so it becomes a proper family affair and one person isn’t left with all the responsibility. It might be the best Christmas present you could give.
If you see a row developing, use some diversionary tactics such as asking someone to help you in the kitchen, or take the dog out for a walk or have a fun forfeit for each transgression of the peace. The transgressor can then set the next forfeit so people know what to expect and it can be all part of the fun if done with a lightness of touch and a twinkle in your eye.
Typically, we will see more of our family and more family members at Christmas than any other time of the year. It can be pretty intense and it’s important to take some personal time out on your own. Or take a family walk – walking is a great way of reducing tension (and burning calories!).
Grief at Christmas
If you’ve lost a loved one, Christmas can be particularly tough. Be gentle on yourself and perhaps do something to honour the person, such as lighting a candle for them. If you want a little cry, you can do so but remember too that they would want you to be happy so allowing yourself to enjoy Christmas is a good way of honouring them too.
Allow yourself not to be perfect. The most fun can be had by what goes wrong rather than what goes right. Don’t take it all too seriously and you will enjoy it more and create a better atmosphere.
Spending time with family 24/7 can take it’s toll. Take some well-earned time out for yourself. A bath, a walk, read a book, reflect on all the highlights of the previous year.
Food, Glorious Food?
I know, it’s Christmas, why shouldn’t you eat all that food? Fine if you want to spend the next three months trying to get rid of it, but it is better simply to take some simple steps to make sure you don’t put the weight on in the first place. Decide on a moderate plateful and a no-seconds rule. Don’t fall into the trap of eating the leftovers. You don’t want waste on your waist!
Take a nice long walk after you’ve eaten in the bracing air. This helps your digestion and burns some of those extra calories.
It’s really important, for your stress levels and your weight, not to neglect your fitness regime at this time too.
And Finally …
If the idea of Christmas still stresses you out, hypnotherapy can really help by changing your reaction to stressful events so that they simply don’t bother you in the same way. You are more relaxed and resourceful. It can also help by improving your time management and influencing skills so that relationships are easier. Why not treat yourself? Call 0345 130 0854.
© Tricia Woolfrey 2014 and adapted 2016