I’m Dreaming of a Stress-Free Merry Christmas

Maybe you think that it’s a pipe dream to be able to have a stress-free Christmas. But it doesn’t have to be! Holidays have always been a major cause of anxiety but you can finally learn how to have a stress-free Christmas.

There are any number of reasons why you may suffer from holiday stress. It could come from any of these options:

  • Travelling to see extended family and having to prepare for the trip – washing clothes, packing (I tend to leave that to my hubby as he is MUCH better than me at getting as much as possible into the smallest space possible, thereby reducing how much luggage we have to take!), and finding someone to look after the pets (and I don’t like boarding our pets so I look for a house sitter – it doesn’t work out much more expensive and the cats don’t have to get stressed by being away from their normal environment),
  • gift shopping
  • Food preparation
  • Year end celebrations at children’s activities
  • Attending parties ………….

The To-Do list can become rather long …………

If Christmas has been a hectic, stressful holiday for you in the past, then it’s time to change. It was Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Decide that this year will be different and prepare yourself in advance!

Think about what Christmas means to you ………. what do you REALLY want to get out of the holidays – family time, creating great memories …….. ? The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, not an opportunity to cover as much ground as possible and see as many people as possible in as short a space of time as possible. While it’s gallant to want to keep everybody happy, it’s also important to be true to your family and your needs. Don’t let the true spirit of Christmas disappear underneath an onslaught of activities and gift buying.

Forget the Hollywood picture of perfect holidays. They don’t exist. The perfect holiday is spending your time and energy doing what you and your family want and letting go of things that aren’t important to you. Be prepared to say No to some invitations. Be kind to yourself and give yourself time out for you. Even if it is just to sit quietly sipping a glass of wine or cup of coffee, enjoying your company or that of your family!By establishing what is important to you and your family, you can narrow your focus. This will help you to reduce the number of responsibilities that you take on and prevent overwhelm. If your family is wide spread, see if you can alternate years in which you catch up with people. It doesn’t always have to be done at Christmas time!

My favorite. Delegation! Learn to delegate chores – you do NOT need to be superwoman, and your house does NOT need to be picture perfect and ready to be photographed for a House & Garden shoot! My theory is that if a speck of dust is more important to someone than my company, then that is their problem, not mine!

On a serious note, you cannot take on the entire house cleaning job along with the cooking and Christmas shopping. If your family is not able to assist, treat yourself to a maid service to get the job done. Think of it as a gift to yourself and a sanity restorer allowing you to enjoy a stress-free Christmas.

Get organised. Develop a master checklist. It is much easier to develop a plan and have focus if you know what needs to be done! Organise your Christmas supplies so that everything is altogether – and as my hubby says: “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” …… knowing where to find the gift wrap, scissors, tape, nametags makes the jobs a lot easier and saves the searching around.  Plan ahead with your lists for supplies and avoid any last minute running around for any forgotten items.

Make a list of who you need to buy gifts for. Work out your overall budget for spending on gifts and food – and then work the plan! Boring? Maybe ….. but in January when the credit card statements arrive and you can pay them off, you’ll be smiling! Remember that it is indeed the thought that counts with gifts, and more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Be thoughtful with your gifts and the memories will last forever.Money. The word that can make people cringe and be the biggest stressor of all for people due to overspending. Christmas is a time for giving, and people love to be generous, but again, without a plan, the fun of the giving can turn when the bills start rolling in and the credit card debt needs to be met.

It’s not just money that you need to stick to a budget with. Time is the other factor …. you only have so much in a day, and while you want to see everyone, and make everyone happy, it just doesn’t always work. Here’s where it pays to have the discussions with the family on what they want to do. Taking all considerations into account, noting commitments on a monthly calendar (so you can see your whole month at a glance and see if it’s approaching nightmare proportions and time to say No!) you can plan who to visit, when and for how long!

By implementing these tips your festive season will be much more enjoyable and you’ll be stress-free!Allow time between commitments, and time off as well. My mother in law has a lovely saying that relates to pruning of plants – “leaving space for the butterflies to dance” – well, you need to do the same with your time – leave space for the Christmas fairies to dance!

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