It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but the reality is far, far different for millions of people every year. Of course, everybody loves Christmas, but it also brings with it a load of pressures that a lot of people find hard to deal with.
To start off, what is supposed to be a spiritual holiday has been wildly commercialized, which has taken the true meaning of it away. And then comes the financial pressure that many families face to conform to the norms of buying expensive presents, decorating their homes creatively and elaborately, hosting dinners that feed many people, etc. On top of it all, let’s not forget the pressure to socialize, go to parties, and impress those around them. These kinds of pressures can seriously trigger your anxiety, and that’s only the least of it!
At the end of it all, Christmas simply becomes a stressful occasion that you only enjoy because “you’re supposed to”, or maybe you just don’t. In fact, a lot of people have decided simply not to celebrate the festival, which is just sad. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way at all! By taking a few simple measures, you can put the fun back into the holiday season and leave the stress behind.
Here are 6 ways to avoid stress at Christmas time:
1. Avoid the Hype
As we said, Christmas in the modern world has become wildly commercialized. Everywhere you look, you have billboards and advertisements trying to convince you that you absolutely “need” to buy or do something, when in reality, you wouldn’t have even thought about it otherwise.
The best thing you can do is recognize the aspects of it that have been sensationalized as purely the marketing ploys that they are, and then avoid them like the plague! Take Christmas back to its basics: a holiday that celebrates spirituality, family, and friends. Spend more time eating well, resting well, and having a good time and less time worrying about the “perfect Christmas”.
2. Be True to Your Feelings
If you’ve been having a tough year, don’t expect to just switch off your feelings and transform into the person that “spreads the holiday cheer” just because that’s what “you’re supposed to do”. The first step is to take care of yourself. Carve out some time for yourself in the days before Christmas to do something you love to do – self-care if you will. This could be spending time with your friends, working out, traveling, or even being alone at home with a good book or movie. Thinking about others, what gifts to buy them, what food to cook, etc. can come later on.
Second, think about what the holiday means to you specifically. If it’s about being with friends and family, do that. If it’s about giving back to the community, make time to volunteer. Find out what will raise your spirits – there’s nothing wrong with your motivations being a little selfish.
It’s been proven that cleaning can impact a person’s mood positively. This is because seeing that they accomplished something makes them feel productive and useful. Since spring cleaning’s a little bit of a long way ahead, why not do some Christmas cleaning?
Not only is it a great way to get your home ready for the holiday season, but you can also give away anything that you don’t use anymore to people who need it, and maybe it’ll make their holiday that little bit better. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure And of course, a decluttered home is simultaneous to a decluttered mind!
4. Set Your Own Boundaries
Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you have to as well. One of the best skills you can gain this holiday season is the ability to say “no”.
One person might feel like their Christmas is incomplete without elaborate lighting displays, a big dinner with all of their family, and multiple gifts for everyone. And for another, Christmas may be a quiet affair where you spend the day with your immediate family, enjoy a good meal, share a few gifts, and enjoy the day watching nostalgic movies. Whatever it is, make sure it’s right for you and don’t feel pressured to overindulge financially or emotionally!
5. Delegate Tasks
Some people feel like they need to do it all themselves to ensure that their family has the best Christmas possible. But that’ll just end up driving you crazy! So, what do you do? Delegate! This will significantly lessen your workload (and stress) – and who knows, your family may actually enjoy doing their part to make the holiday special as well!
Share the tasks with the rest of your family, and assign specific jobs like shopping for gifts, picking up the tree, or even cooking and cleaning on the day itself to different members of the family. Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved.
6. Learn to Say No
Let’s dive deeper into something we said earlier: acquiring the skill of knowing when to say “no”. Sure, everyone means well when they invite you to their Christmas parties, include you in their gift-giving circles, and etc. But that doesn’t always mean you have to always say yes.
Pleasing others is all good and well, but when it threatens your wellbeing by putting you under undue pressure – just say “no”. Before you accept another proposition, stop and think whether it fits into your goals and priorities, and if not – you know the word! If you find it hard to say it to someone’s face or if you’re not sure you should say yes at that very moment, just tell them you’ll think about it and let them know. Later on, you can write to them in a text or email either to accept, or to say “no”, but in a nicer way, of course. You can still be liked and stay within your personal boundaries!