Christmas is undeniably the most wonderful time of the year; it can also be quite tense and exhausting! From shopping for presents to preparing a full-course feast for loved ones, it’s no joke!
When the stress of the Christmas season starts to get to you, the only way to get through the holidays is to remember to take care of your mental health. Here’s how.
1. Create a plan. How do you want Christmas to be?
After a long year, Christmas is a much-awaited opportunity to see family and friends at last, especially ones you haven’t seen in a while, and celebrate at last. The perfect time for a reset.
So here’s a noteworthy hack to make your preparations go exactly the way you plan: Picture the Christmas that you want.
Set your expectations and paint a mental image of what you want your Christmas to look like. Who is sitting at the dinner table? What’s served on Christmas eve? What are you all talking about? How many presents are there under the Christmas tree? What song is playing in the background?
Keep in mind this picture you’ve created, and share it with the people you want to spend time with. Ask them to colour in that picture too, so you can make your preparations together. Then, create a checklist of items that will help you turn that picture into a reality, and start ticking them one by one.
2. Create a Christmas budget. Avoid out-of-control spending!
Some might take Christmas as a free pass to spend. But remember: You get to decide and control where every single dollar in your bank account is spent. Enter the holiday budget.
Budgeting is one of the key considerations in planning your Christmas celebrations, and easily the most overlooked. Plan your spending ahead of time, before you set things in motion. It will help take away a lot of the stress because then, you’ll know what you’ll be spending on and not spending on, ensuring that you’re not spending more than you can afford.
No more impulse purchases, no spending too much on gifts, decorations, food, and other Chrissy expenses. The last thing you want is to wake up the day after Christmas practically broke, with no idea where your last paycheck went. Make a budget, stick to it, and thank yourself later for doing a great job.
3. Create a schedule. Set boundaries!
At times, we don’t get to decide where we go or how we spend our time. Sometimes it might feel like your partner, your mum, or your boss calls the shots. How can you better control your activities, especially over the holidays?
Set your boundaries for any merrymaking! The last thing you want is to find yourself stuck at a party keeping someone company or playing designated driver. Before you make any social commitments, set your limits for travelling, hosting guests, or attending events and parties.
Rather than responding to invitations straight away, give yourself room to consider, and see how the invitation fits with your schedule. Learn how to say no to friends, family, or colleagues. It can be daunting, especially if you’re the type who tries to please others and will do everything to avoid confrontation. But knowing how to decline an invitation benefits your wellbeing and reduces unjustified stress.
4. Reduce holiday distress. Focus on what you can control.
In life, we have control only over two things: our thoughts and our actions. Remember this when everyone’s gathered around the dinner table on Christmas day!
You can’t control how your kids are going to behave or what your peckish aunt is going to think of your Christmas pudding. When you make a conscious decision to let go of what you can’t control, the stress almost automatically fades away. Own your thoughts and actions, and do what you think is best for your wellbeing and your family.
5. Remember the reason for the Season. Reconnect with loved ones!
Sometimes, we can get so caught up with the holiday preparations, being consumed with creating that picture-perfect Christmas eve, picking the right outfit, nailing the decorations, cooking the Insta-worthy dinner and dessert. No room for hosting errors.
But years later, what do we really remember from Christmas dinner? We recall the happy conversations over the dinner table, relationships rekindled over a drink or two, and children gasping with excitement as they open their presents. It’s a time to be filled with joy surrounded by loved ones!
This time of the year does bring about some stress and it’s completely normal, as long as we don’t let our minds go into overdrive. Just relax, take the time to get together with loved ones and focus on what matters: having fun and making memories!