The Christmas season is a time of seemingly endless gatherings with family and friends, celebrations at the office, and entertaining at home. All of this anticipation can be exhilarating; however it can also be anxiety provoking due to the unrealistic expectation to create the “best Christmas ever.” The most wonderful time of the year can easily turn into the most exhausting time of the year. And this can lead to January burn out, regret and financial burden. I have come to appreciate how important planning and prioritizing is to reduce the probability of having a Christmas that is not all that jolly and actually a bit melancholy.
Here are some of my best suggestions for a stress free Christmas:
Set Realistic Expectations
The sooner you understand that the holidays don’t have to be perfect, the better. There is no perfect Christmas. That concept is reserved for the Hallmark TV Channel only. Families change and grow and so traditions come and go. Choose the one or two celebrations that are meaningful enough to hold onto. Then allow space to create new traditions that serve your family as it is in the present.
As with all tasks, if you plan ahead the chances of success are higher than if you wing it. Christmas is no exception. Set aside specific days for activities like shopping, baking, visiting, decorating and so on. That will prevent last minute scrambling. Also, by having a plan you are more apt to say no to activities that would leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
Set a budget and stick to it!
Before you spend any money on the holidays, decide how much you can afford to spend and then portion that amount between all of the necessities such as gifts, food, entertaining, travel, etc. There is nothing more anxiety-provoking than the January credit card statements if December was managed poorly. Preplanning your spending and refusing to buy into the message: happiness is a mountain of presents, are necessary defences. Realize that there are a lot of ways to spend less money on gifts and yet still show that you care. Things like a gift exchange or Secret Santa is a great way to reduce the financial burden of gift giving. Homemade gifts are meaningful and can be very special to the person receiving them. Donating to charities is also becoming a popular alternative to actual store-bought presents.
Keep your health as a priority
All of your good work on health should not go out the window just because it’s December. Your routine might not be as strict as it usually is however that does not mean that you should just abandon your health goals. If you are watching what you eat, then use the trick of eating healthy food before going to the holiday party to avoid overeating on sweets and appetizers. Also, incorporate some form of physical exercise into your routine each day and make sure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep.
By preplanning some simple, yet effective strategies for how to get through the holidays you can prevent anxiety and overwhelm from taking over this year. Identify what triggers cause you most the stress (financial or personal demands) and develop a plan of how to combat them. With some simple techniques and strategies, a joyful and anxiety-free Christmas can be enjoyed.
To our health and wellbeing,