How to survive Christmas: 3 strategies to minimize stress

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Do you dread Christmas?

Do you feel overwhelmed by everything you need to do?

Does Christmas trigger your anxiety?

In this article I talk about the main sources of stress and teach you how to survive Christmas using 3 helpful strategies to not only minimise stress but help you to make the MOST out of the festive season.

The festive season is supposed to be really enjoyable:

Time off work

Gifts

Eating and drinking what you want

Making special memories

Reconnecting with family and friends

And yet, there are aspects that put strain on our resources. 

Environmental stress

If you’re in the Northern part of the world, you have short days and long nights, which doesn’t contribute to good cheer. But no matter where you are, there are probably too many lights, too many colours, and too much loud noise, which all contribute to stress

Not to mention the same old songs played on repeat. 

Time stress

This time of year means another year has whizzed to an end (again).

You may tend to reflect on your journey this year, and find yourself wanting. Or engage in unhelpful social comparison. Then there’s the pressure of too much to do in too little time when it comes to gifts, people, travel, holidays plans, dinners and so on. 

Financial Stress

You know you should have budgeted and saved money every month so you’d have a christmas pot at the end of the year, but you probably didn’t. Even if you did save, there is massive financial pressure to spend and spend some more during the holiday season. 

Psychological stress

The festive season may be the source of all kinds of triggers, particularly if you’re dealing with loss or traumas. The lack of routine, the pressure to make things special, managing your children so they don’t embarrass you too much, dealing with the unexpected… these are all isssues that can lead to lots of anxiety. If you’re on your own, you may feel pressurised to find a partner, or if you have a partner but you don’t have children, you may be subject to all kinds of highly personal questions about when you’re planning to have kids, or why you haven’t already had them. 

Social Stress 

Christmas is supposedly about family and friends, yet the geographic, generational and cultural differences in families are highlighted when you’re all in close proximity. If you have people staying with you, or you’re staying in someone else’s home, there may not be much space or privacy. This can easily make you feel out of control. 

In family gatherings, you may even find yourself regressing to a much younger self, and behave in ways which conflict with your current identity. Like acting like a sulky teen around your mother.

Loneliness

Even if you’re with lots of people there are many reasons you might feel alone. If you’re living with chronic pain, some kind of disability, an illness, a disease, or a mental illness, you might isolated and seperate from everybody else. You may feel unable to talk about it to anyone. Or if you try to talk about it, you find that people dismiss you or make assumptions about you that upset you. This can leave you feeling desperately alone in the midst of others.

Of course, if you’re physically on your own, that is hard in a different way. You might crave companionship, and feel very sad that you don’t have anyone with you. 

Physical Stress

Lastly, there is the pressure to eat, drink and be merry! All well and good in the (very) short term but eating too much unhealthy food leaves you feeling bad in the slightly longer term, like the next morning. And repeated eating and drinking leaves you bloated, constipated, hungover and miserable. 

Here are 3 helpful strategies to minimise stress and help you to make the most of the festive season.

BFB Success Formula: How to survive Christmas (and even make it fun):

  • Define your values

What are your true values? Sit down and brainstorm your values, then whittle them down to a short list of about 3 – 5 (so you can remember them and thus live by them).

Knowing your values and behaving according to your values enable you to feel more authentic and congruent as you go through the holiday season. Also, defining your values enables you to use them to guide your decisions. 

  • Make a plan and write it down

Brainstorm everything you might do and might need.

Then refine the list. As yourself what’s not in line with my values? Cross those off. 

When you have a plan you can delegate as much as possible, and spread the load. Have the plan written down or on your phone, so you don’t have to try and remember it (because you won’t and trying to hold stuff in your head is stressful).

Plan your Budget -in line with your means and more especially in line with your values).  

  • Prepare your “exit strategies”

Exit strategies are about hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

Consider possible pitfalls and disasters, and think what you could do and how you would cope. 

Have a Plan B in place. 

If this happens, I’ll do that (put on headphones, go to the bathroom and wash my face and hands, go for a walk, excuse myself and have a little nap, etc.)

Prepare a few stock answers (if Aunty B asks when I’m going to have children, I’ll say ….)

Take-aways:

Having a lovely time over Christmas isn’t an automatic thing. In fact, it requires a fair amount of effort. But the effort is well worth while, so devote just a few hours to preparing yourself and making sure that you not only know how to survive Christmas, but how to thrive. 

If you have a story to share please leave a comment or check out one of our social media pages, and, remember to take care of yourself 🙂