Reduce Your Stress Levels In The Lead Up To Christmas
When we were kids, Christmas was an absolute blast.
We had all the fun and none of the responsibilities. All we had to do was show up in our PJs, open presents, eat delicious food, and spend the day playing with our new treasures.
But alas, as grown-ups, the holiday season is a whole different ballgame: it’s all responsibilities and minimal fun.
For many adults, the most joyful time of the year is seriously lacking in joy and can be hugely stressful. There’s often financial pressure, time pressure, and the overwhelm of trying to do a million things at once while keeping everyone happy.
This can all lead to increased stress levels, anxiety, depression, or burnout – and that’s the last thing you need when you’re meant to be relaxing and enjoying some downtime after an intense year.
If you’re already feeling stressed about the upcoming holiday season, remember that this year doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By adapting your approach and mindset, you can reduce your stress levels and inject more fun into your Christmas holidays
Let’s talk about how to make that happen.
Reduce Your Stress Levels In The Lead Up To Christmas
Make A Plan
Did you know that 51% of New Zealanders feel increased financial and social stress during the holiday season?
One of the best ways to avoid overwhelm is to have a solid plan of action. Instead of leaving everything to the last minute and completely stressing yourself out, sit down and come up with a schedule that spreads all your pre-holiday tasks out into bite-sized chunks.
If you plan to cook up a feed for the family, get your grocery shopping done early when things are on sale. Maybe you can even do some baking or cooking early and freeze it, so there’s less to do closer to Christmas day.
Make a gift list and get it sorted early online, and don’t forget to schedule some rest and relaxation in there too!
Stop Perfectionism In Its Tracks
If there’s one mantra you should keep repeating leading up to Christmas, it’s this:
Done is better than perfect.
While Christmas does come with certain pressures, you’ll likely find that many of them are self-inflicted.
Is it really that important to get the perfect gift for everyone, have the best-decorated house in the street, cook the most extravagant dinner for the family, or bend over backwards to make sure the day goes exactly to plan?
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not the end of the world if things don’t go quite as you expected, so reduce your stress levels by lowering your expectations.
Take Good Care Of Yourself
When we are stressed, we tend to act counter-intuitively and ditch the healthy habits we should embrace. Basic health hygiene habits like regular meals, eight hours of sleep, and exercise are often the first things to disappear from our daily schedules.
However, one of the best ways to reduce your stress levels is by prioritising self-care. A lack of sleep and movement and poor nutrition can contribute to increased cortisol levels, exacerbating the physical and emotional symptoms of stress.
Of course, over the silly season, there’s bound to be some bigger meals and a few late nights – and we should embrace those enjoyable moments – but if you’re consistently putting your health at the bottom of the list, you could find yourself burned out before Santa has even harnessed up his reindeer.
Reframe The Act Of Giving
Like many holidays, a lot of joy gets sucked out of Christmas by the massive push to buy, buy, buy. Decorations, summer holiday essentials, gifts for family, friends, the kids’ teachers and the postie.
While giving can be a beautiful thing, it doesn’t have to be about buying the biggest, shiniest gift around. It truly can be about more than that. It’s about the love, time and effort that goes into selecting or making something for someone.
If you’re feeling pressured financially, remember that gifts don’t even have to be tangible. They can be things like a massage, cooking dinner for your loved one, or doing something special for each other that you wouldn’t ordinarily do.
It’s never too late to change the focus in your household and introduce new traditions that reduce your stress levels for years to come – and that can start with changing the way you approach gift-giving.
Call In The Troops
Do you usually take care of most of the Christmas prep alone? And are you always the one stuck in the kitchen sorting out the food while everyone else relaxes? Say it with me – “not this year!”
This is the year you will ask for help so that you can reduce your stress levels and have a merry Christmas along with your friends and family. When you’re planning all the pre-holiday tasks, start delegating! If you usually host, let someone else take over. Alternatively, ask everyone to bring a plate instead of cooking everything yourself.
Don’t be afraid to say no when something feels like too much. Set boundaries around how much you will commit to, and be clear on what you’d like help with.
Most importantly, remember that if you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. As I mentioned before, half of all Kiwis are right there with you! Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re failing. If you feel like the stress is getting too much and you need to talk or develop better strategies to reduce your stress levels, reach out for the support you need.
Christmas stress is real! And it is totally ok to want to reduce your stress levels during the silly season. But, it can be hard to know how to do it. If you want some easy-to-action strategies that you can implement right away.