Dealing with the stress of Christmas – My Top 10 Tips

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Christmas can be a time of raised anxiety, stress and depression in even the calmest of people.

For some, Christmas is the best time of year, and exciting.  But this is not the case for everyone!

People can feel pressured about family get togethers, buying presents, decorating the house, and social engagements.

Christmas is supposed to be a time to be happy, and relax when having a few days off from work (if you’re lucky enough to have a job that lets you).  I was a prison officer and having to work those days was also very stressful sometimes, not having the same days off as my family!

Tip 1)  Only agree to the events that you wish to go to, don’t try to overbook yourself, or overwhelm yourself just because you think you have to.  If there’s someone you don’t get along with at a get together, don’t stay long, just pop in and say hello.  You really do have the choice.

Tip 2)  Stick to your budget – only buy presents that you can afford, as Martin Lewis says – make an agreement now to not buy presents for everyone – when you buy a present for someone – it also puts pressure on them to buy you one back, and vice versa, a lot of people are too polite to bring this up, but if you’re struggling it will help you.  And if presents stress you out – remember there is always a cash, or gift voucher option!

Tip 3)  Stick to how you want to have your Christmas – don’t compare yourselves to others – just because next door has a million lights and decorations up – doesn’t mean that you have to – keep to your vision of Christmas – don’t get hung up on what you’re “supposed” to do.  Will it really matter if you miss a few fairy lights outside?

Tip 4)  If you’re cooking the Christmas/Boxing/New Year dinner, remember it’s just a bigger Sunday roast dinner, my mum used to get very stressed over it, I couldn’t understand why.  Prepare your vegetables the night before, make the stuffing balls the night before etc, so it’s less to do on the day, make things easier for yourself.

Tip 5)  Don’t worry about things you have no control over – if something happens on the day, or before, do not stress about it, things do happen, we cannot control how or what others do, we can only change our reaction to it.  Stay calm, and make the best of the day.

Tip 6)  If you feel stressed, depressed or anxious go for a walk, do some exercise, it’s been proven that exercise can help your mood.  Going for a walk helps you balance both sides of the brain, and reduces the stressful feelings.  Also, it keeps you fitter and healthier, and burns off those extra calories you may be eating/drinking at the festive time.

Tip 7)  Don’t be so hard on yourself – many people think that Christmas has to be perfect, nothing is perfect!  If something goes wrong laugh about it, give yourself a break – once I forgot to cook the roast potatoes – I felt awful – but did it really matter – we had parsnips, it wasn’t the end of the world!!

Tip 8)  If you’re missing a loved one this year, do something to remember them by, some people still set a place for them, make a toast to them, have a photo of them nearby.  It can be a very tough time for someone that is grieving, especially the first year, so be gentle if you know anyone in this situation.

Tip 9)  If you are on your own this year, and are feeling lonely, maybe book into a restaurant or pub that’s doing Christmas dinner, so you’re not so alone.  Or volunteer to work at maybe a homeless shelter, or salvation army or somewhere, so you feel like you have somewhere to go, and it may give you a purpose too.  We always feel better when we feel we have helped someone else.  There are organisations where you can help getting shopping for people too.

10)  If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, anxious or lonely, talk to someone, lean on friends or family, get some support, and if you’re getting help with your mental health, maybe book in for an extra session with your therapist to help you feel less anxious about it all.  Your therapist could give you extra support at this time of year, or if you don’t have a therapist, maybe this is the perfect time to contact one.


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