Keep Calm … It’s nearly Christmas!

It started to happen about four weeks ago: walking through the local shopping centre I saw my first Christmas decorations. Soon the Christmas songs started creeping into the shops, then the big stores released their Christmas TV ads, and – before you know it – we’ve had Black Friday, and there is no escape from the phenomena that is, yes, you’ve guessed it … Christmas!

Hopefully Christmas will be a good time for you, however, not wishing to be a killjoy, I have to point out that Christmas can be a difficult time for many of us. We worry about how we can afford everything, what to buy people, how to cope with the in-laws, and how to get everything done in time.  We may also feel very lonely and miss the people we can no longer enjoy the festivities with.

All this leaves me wondering if we could create a new category of mental health problem called Festive Stress.

Festive Stress could be described as a temporary state of madness lasting from around mid-November till the end of December.  During these six weeks, a person typically does everything to excess – spending, eating, drinking and falling out with loved ones.  Then, at the end of it all, they collapse in an exhausted heap, before forcing themselves to go on a diet, do Dry January and get back to the gym.

Try not to fall into the trap again this year! Take a deep breath and remember that Christmas is a time for joy, love and relaxation.  Here are my top ten tips to limit Festive Stress and help make sure you enjoy the festivities…

Get organised:  Write lists for gift buying, food shopping and tasks you need to do.  Have an idea of when you want to achieve each of these things by and make use of the diary and reminders section of your phone to keep on track.

Don’t take everything on yourself: Ask yourself what really needs to be done and consider what tasks you can delegate to other people.

Don’t expect perfection: No one’s Christmas is ever like it is in the adverts, so don’t set yourself up for a disappointment.  

Pace yourself: If you say yes to every social invitation as well as getting everything ready for the big day you’ll soon find yourself feeling exhausted and short tempered. Practice the art of saying ‘thank you but no’.

Don’t be alone:  If you’re concerned about being alone this Christmas then start making some plans now.  Think about who you could spend time with and ask them what they are up to. Research what’s going on in your local area or look into volunteering for a few hours on the big day itself.

Look after yourself: Be mindful of how you are feeling and take time for the things you usually find helpful, such as a nice bath, gym class, walk, or meditation.  Get a decent night’s sleep and don’t overdo the alcohol and food.

Watch the pennies: If money is a concern then set yourself a realistic spending budget and stick to it.  Remember that if you overspend now it will only create stress for you going into the New Year.

Take a deep breath and practice the art of patience: If you are spending time with people you don’t always get on with then take the opportunity to have some time out every now and again – even if this is just a case of nipping to the bathroom and taking a few deep breaths! 

Start a new tradition: Einstein famously said, ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’.  So, if Christmas hasn’t been good for you in past years or there has been a change in your circumstances such as a divorce, then don’t be afraid to break the mould and do something different this year – think about what you would really like to be doing.

Focus on the positives: Think about the things you are looking forward to and happy memories you may have from previous years.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Christmas – I’ll be back in 2018 with more Forrest Rambles.