Festive pressure really starts to mount from the beginning of December.
Relatives visit and work parties loom and there is an endless list of things to do.
All this combined with late nights, rich food and too much alcohol means people tend to burn the candle at both ends, making stress worse.
Find out how to stay relaxed and happy by following this advice.
Learning to say no can be a great way to reduce your stress levels. With pressure coming from all angles it is important to remember that you don’t have to say yes to everything.
Remind yourself that it’s perfectly okay to turn down a work party and have a night in instead.
The key is to realize that saying no doesn’t make you selfish.
Instead what it means is that you will really enjoy the things you say yes to.
Take time to relax in the bath
Top Tip. Rather than trying to please everyone all the time, try to reclaim some time for yourself to do the things you enjoy!
Read a book, have a bath and spend time with different people.
At Christmas time you may have so much to do and so many things to organize that you end up feeling ground down and exhausted.
This can make it hard to see the positive side of things. There is always something to be grateful for, however small, so try to look for the positives.
Write down three things at the end of each day that went well or for which you are grateful.
Have you managed something well at work? Have you made a positive difference to an individual? Think about the things that have happened each day that have made you feel good about yourself. Try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.
Accept What You Can’t Change.
There are some things you simply cannot change. Other people’s behaviour, for example, is hard to control and so, where you can, when irritations arise try to let them go.
Timekeeping, especially at work, can be out of your control too. The key here is to prioritize. If you have a big day ahead of you, write a list of things you need to accomplish and put them in a strict order.
Deal with the most difficult first so you can get it out of the way.
Top Tip. Try to identify what you can and cannot change. Be realistic in what you have real power over.
Learning to accept what you don’t have control over will mean your’e less stressed in the long run.
Share responsibility between family
One of the main causes of stress is the feeling that you cannot control a particular situation. Try to plan your commitments and time so you have plenty of advance notice and can delegate responsibilities if you need to.
Top Tip. Be organised and buy gifts well in advance so you have time to wrap them up without rushing or adding extra stress to your schedule.
Some people work really well under pressure but if you don’t, start your shopping as soon as possible so you can take your time.
This will prevent “panic–buying” and it doesn’t matter if you come home empty handed because you’ll still have lots of time to go again.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS.
Stress can arise when you take on too many responsibilities and feel as though you cannot cope. Learn how to recognize when things are getting too much and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
For example, if you have the whole family coming over for Christmas dinner, try sharing responsibility between family members rather than taking on everything yourself.
Top Tip. If everyone has a job they are responsible for, no one family member will carry the whole burden and stress levels should be reduced for everyone.
Give everyone a job on Christmas Day, even the children. Ask them to prepare vegetables or set the table for example.
Stay calm and healthy for a stress free Christmas
Have A Time Table.
Make sure the whole family know rough timings of what is happening throughout the day so there are no arguments in the morning if people want to do different things.
Top Tip. Agree the plan beforehand with input from everyone to make sure you all enjoy the day.
UNDERSTAND YOUR TRIGGERS
The circumstances that cause stress will vary for everyone, so it’s important to recognize what your triggers are. Over the festive period there are more stress triggers than usual so identify what can turn into an issue and plan how to manage it accordingly.
Top Tip. It might help to keep a diary of what is making you stressed so you can refer back to it during a calmer time and work on your coping strategies.
Family arguments can cause a lot of stress at Christmas so try to deal with issues as they arise and don’t let resentment build.
It can help to think about the right position to seat people around the table as well.
If family members don’t get on, don’t sit them together. Distractions such as games are also good, so focus on making it fun.
Top Tip. If one member of the family is being particularly difficult or there is tension, try to defuse the situation by having a quiet word.
Be sensitive in these situations and don’t embarrass your guest in front of the others.
Instead, fill up their water glass so it’s easy for them to reach.
It’s a well documented fact that exercise can help lower stress levels.
Even when you feel as if you have no time for it, try to get out for a brisk walk, a quick bike ride or a run to give you some time to clear your head. The likelihood is you will get much more done afterwards.
Top Tip. Fresh air and sunlight are also important so go outside at lunchtime or on your way home from work to help reduce stress levels.
LIVE A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Many of us tend to overeat at Christmas with lots of rich food and drink on offer.
While it’s fine to indulge now and then, try to plan some healthy meals to counteract the effects of this and make sure you still get your five a day.
Top Tip. Try to cut out cigarettes and don’t overdo it on alcohol.
Both of these things may act like temporary fixes to make you feel better but they will leave you feeling more stressed and wound up in the long run.