To invoke a festive cliché, 'it’s the most wonderful time of the year'. That’s right, Christmas is fast approaching and as the dark evenings draw in and the temperature falls, we begin to count down the weeks ‘til December 25th.
If this sounds a little bit stressful, that’s because it often is. Buying presents, festive food and organising get-togethers can bring on stress in even the most resilient of people. Research from the mental health charity Mind states that people are also less likely to talk about any mental health problems they might experience during the festive season.1
So, how can you balance the joys of Christmas with the stress of actually getting them in order? Here we look at some ways you can ensure the holidays are as great as possible for you and those around you.
Keep things in perspective
During the holiday season we can put ourselves under a lot of pressure both financially and emotionally. Christmas is a brilliant time to catch up with people and celebrate, but in a couple of months it’ll all be over and done with so don’t make it the crux of your year. Remember that people are there all-year-round.
Look after yourself
If you’ve taken on the task of organising everything for everyone, you need to remember that burnout is very real and, unless you take time for yourself, you run the risk of not enjoying the fruits of your labour. Do something just for yourself, something you enjoy, something entirely unrelated to Christmas.
Stay active and healthy
This goes for any time of the year and a great way to bust stress is to make sure you’re keeping on top of your physical health. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit and lean meat, and drink lots of water in between the occasional festive indulgence. A brisk walk will release endorphins, helping you feel relaxed and happy, as well as boosting your immune system, helping you avoid seasonal viruses - the last thing you want is to be unwell over Christmas.
Don’t push too hard
There’s a real pressure on people to have picture-perfect lives, especially on social media and particulary during the holiday season. It’s likely that people you know will be posting regular updates on their preparations, their celebrations and their gatherings. This is great but remember that social media tends to be a carefully curated, edited snapshot of reality.
If you’re struggling a little, and you’re surrounded by images of others having the perfect time, this can make things even worse. Try to remember that no matter how wonderful Facebook or Instagram might make your friends’ Christmas seem, they’re likely to be suffering the same stresses as you are.
Try reaching out. Talk about the stress you feel, tell your friends that you’re having a difficult time. You’ll be surprised by how many people tell you they feel the same - and how happy they’ll be that you’ve reached out to them.
If you suspect someone you know might be struggling, offer to help. Even if it’s just a lift to the shops to pick up a bulky present, or advice on the best way to roast a sprout (wrap them in bacon, add salt and maple syrup. Trust us.), the smallest gesture can really make a difference and make you feel good at the same time.
Just be there
For many, the holiday season isn’t something to look forward to - it can be a lonely time of year when people are missing their loved ones. If you know someone going home to an empty house at Christmas, invite them to join your celebrations, include them in your plans, or simply let them know they’re not alone.