12 Ways to a Stress-Free Christmas
Back by popular demand are our 12 Ways to a Stress-Free Christmas, as many working mothers in particular appear to be racing around trying to create the perfect Christmas. The TV adverts certainly don’t help and forget that not everyone has a perfect family and that many plans don’t always go to plan!
- Work backwards from Christmas Day or your big family gathering and create a ‘To Do’ list with priorities, names and dates against each task:
Although most of the preparations still tend to fall to the women at this time of the year, don’t think that you have to do everything yourself. Ask yourself: ‘What exactly needs doing? By When? Who can help out? How can they help? What could I do differently this year to minimize the Stress?’ Plan ahead.
Positive thoughts help make Stress intermittent by focusing your brain’s attention onto something that is completely stress-free. If you haven’t done all your shopping yet, you know that the shops will be busy and the car parks full, so leave extra time and make use of time in the car to listen to uplifting podcasts or audio books, or catch up with calls (hands-free, preferably when you’re stationary, and only to positive friends/family!)
- Take a break from Technology
Even if you’re shopping online or sending e-cards, if you take a 10 minute break every hour you’ll be more productive and feel more relaxed. Also keep checking your posture to ensure you’re not hunching your shoulders forward and frowning at the screen.
- Cut down on Coffee
Even if you’re trying to counter the late nights from partying or shopping, drinking caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline which is the source of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of Stress, your emotions overrun your behavior and give you a tendency to over-dramatise the deadlines or perceived crises.
When it feels like something always or never happens, or always goes wrong, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. If the specific toy or present isn’t available, it’s not the end of the world, look at different options.
- See the Wood for the Trees
Stress and worry are fueled by our own skewed perception of events. It’s easy to think that unrealistic deadlines and out-of-control traffic are the reasons we’re so stressed all the time, but it’s usually our reaction to the situation that causes the Stress, or our own habits and behaviors making us run late or see the negatives. Step off the proverbial treadmill or hamster wheel and look beyond the weeds!
- Stop, breathe slowly, think, then act
Racing around will only mean that by the time the holidays come you’re too exhausted to enjoy your time off! So book in some downtime between now and Christmas, whether it’s a day in a spa, or a morning or afternoon working away from the office in a relaxing environment, which will also stimulate creativity.
To be calm and productive, you need to recognize your weaknesses and ask for help when you need it. Asking for help will mitigate your Stress and strengthen your relationships with those you rely on. If you don’t ask you’ll never find out that your neighbor would love to dog sit your new puppy while you decorate the tree! If you’ve drawn up a list of tasks outside the office then involve children in the preparations.
9. Spend 10 minutes every day doing absolutely nothing. Just finding that spare time to yourself without your phone, laptop, radio or TV will make you feel much calmer and more energized.
- Plan for crises
Chances are the traffic will be bad, the turkey might take much longer to cook than you thought, or your partner’s sister doesn’t eat meat, so build in extra time, look at different options, and always have a Plan B.
- Ask yourself ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ And ‘What if it did?’
Chances are no one will care if there aren’t enough sprouts on the big day, but they will remember if the host or hostess is so stressed out that he or she loses their temper and shouts at their family and/or guests! There are a lot of people suffering at this time of year, so take some time out to be grateful for what you have and then help others, either by giving your time, or spare presents, or cash.
- Lastly and most importantly, remember what Dr Richard Carlson said: ‘90% of what you worry about doesn’t happen. You can’t do anything about the other 10%.’
Good luck with the preparations!