CHRISTMAS…It’s the most magical time of year…. well it’s suppose to be, but not everyone feels like that. It’s hard to be merry when you have an every growing to-do list before the big day arrives.
For children it still is a magical time of year, They write a letter to Santa, asking for everything their hearts desires, sending it off and waiting to see what magically arrives under the Christmas tree.
When I was a child, my Mum seemed to have everything together, she never seemed stressed at all. We would bake Christmas cookies together, make Christmas themed crafts and come Christmas day, my Mum would prepare a lovely dinner and we would have a great day. Not once did I see my Mum rushing around feeling pressured to get her to-do list done.
Now I am a Mum, I can see things from the other side and I realise how good my Mum was at not showing how stressful the Christmas period can actually be. I suffer with anxiety, which leads to stress on its own, let alone trying to keep on top of all the things going on during the Christmas period so I have put together a Christmas stress guide sharing some of the ways I keep on top of my stress levels and try not to get too overwhelmed.
Set and Stick to a budget.
Before I get into any tips on the subject of money, I want you to be sure that you have paid all your normal monthly/weekly bills and you are only spending what you can afford. Being in debt over the Christmas period is one of the biggest causes of long-term stress.
There are a few things you need to include in your budget planning. How much are spending on presents for family and friends (budget per person). How much will you be spending on decorations, food, travel. Once you have your budget, really sticking to it is the key. Impulse buying can become a dangerous things if you are doing it regularly. My suggestion to beat that, is to only take cash out shopping with you and only take the amount you can afford to spend.
The nearer you get to Christmas the more your social calendar will start filling up. If you have children it is more than likely that the last two weeks of term will be the busiest, with Christmas activities, plays and fates. On top of that you have family commitments to keep to and other members of your family you want to see. Add in any works Christmas parties and there is a lot to try to remember. My solution to help make sure you don’t double book yourself is to create a December planner. Even if you are not a planning person and you don’t own a planner/diary/calendar simply print out a calendar for the month of December and keep it on your desk or even the fridge to fill out through the month. This will really help reduce your stress levels. If you are not a paper planning person, there are so many calender app you can download on you phone to help you.
On the present subject, the saying goes ‘ It’s the thought that matters’ and this is very true and the best way to give your friends and family a thoughtful gift is to start early. Listen out for any hints about items they would be interested in. Also think about the person’s lifestyle and If there is anything linking to that you could buy as a present. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself as this will lead to more stress. Have an idea of what you want to get before going shopping.
This can be a deal breaker when it comes down to stress, cooking the Christmas dinner can be another one of the biggest causes of stress, some people take it in their stride and for some it can be a struggle. My advice would be to prep anything you can the night before, I always prep all my veg the night before. Remember to get anything that needs defrosting out the night before as well. Another way to reduce the stress is to get your family to help. If you are hosting on Christmas day, ask your guests to bring different items. Someone could bring the pudding. If you are having more than one type of meat, ask someone to cook one and bring it with them on the day.
Bringing it all together on Christmas day.
Some people like to just go with the flow and take the day as it comes, some people have a schedule they like to stick to. However you like to spend your Christmas day, try to enjoy it and not let the whole day stress you out. If you are not a schedule type of person and you find you can get stressed easily, I found a way you can enjoy the day with minimal stress.
Last year I was hosting Christmas day and I found mid-morning I was getting really stressed, rushing around trying to get everything finished before the guests arrived at midday, I ended up grabbing a bit of paper and dividing it into four. Top left – Morning. Bottom left – Afternoon. Top right – Evening. Bottom right – Tomorrow. I wrote all the jobs I needed to get done into the right section for the time of day it needed to be done by. Morning – Unwrapping presents, start cooking, lay the table. Afternoon – Guests arriving, Dinner, tidy kitcken, load dishwasher, start eve prep. Evening – lay table for buffet food, walk the dogs, get kids ready for bed. and if I knew a time that job had to be, I wrote that next to it. eg. What time guest were arriving, what time we were eating dinner etc. This simple thing helped me a lot because it took all the nonsense out of my head and I only had to focus on one section at a time.
Do you find the Christmas period stressful? How do you keep your stress levels down?