Ding dong stress levels are high...For most people, the Christmas period can be the busiest, most stressful time of year. Amidst all of the hustle and bustle of buying gifts, queuing at supermarkets and trying to visit every member of the family, it’s easy to lose sight of what Christmas is all about.
The build up to Christmas seems to be starting earlier and earlier, yet still, it only lasts one day!This 15 tip guide will hopefully help you to enjoy the festive period and have the best Christmas yet.
- What's it all about? The most obvious point would be to remember what the true meaning of Christmas is and what it should represent. Even if you aren’t a religious person, decide what Christmas means to you and what you would like to see happen. Do you enjoy being with family, friends or being quiet on your own? Christmas can be a time of gratitude and reflection, looking back at what has happened throughout the year, the good and the bad.
- Stick to a budget! We can feel pressures and stress from all angles to spend, spend, spend over Christmas. We're bombarded by adverts portraying the perfect Christmas, urging us to part with our cash through a series of guilt trips and unattainable goals. Its easy to feel that by spending money on others we are demonstrating love and devotion, when really the cliche is true “it is the thought that counts”, a gift with no thought is merely a financial transaction.
- It’s not going to be perfect. The perfect Christmas only exists on Christmas cards and supermarket adverts. By lowering your expectations and letting the day flow naturally your blood pressure follow suit. Don’t worry if things don’t go to plan, John Lennon once said “Life is what happens when you go making plans”.
- Keep it simple. You may feel that Christmas is a great time to catch up with family and friends as a lot of people will be on annual leave from work. Add to this the stores will be encouraging you to spend at the sales, but what about being peaceful, serene, calm, and tranquil? By over scheduling visits and activities, your stress levels will heighten and you may miss the beauty of the season.
- The great outdoors. It’s only when you step outside that you can appreciate the natural beauty of winter. Wrap up warm and go for a walk. This will reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, keep you fit and release endorphins. And what could be better than returning from a cold walk, cranking up the heating and having a lovely brew and a mince pie?!
- “Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” said Elton John. Purchase or download some beautiful Christmas music. Slade has its place, but consider something a little less ‘shouty’. Classical music has been proven to fight depression, boost memory, spark creativity and even relieve pain!
- Create wonderful traditions. Traditions are what binds a family at Christmas. Feeling a part of something unique and personal gives us a sense of comfort and belonging.
- Surprise friends or relatives with an unannounced visit. Sometimes people avoid inviting people as they don’t think they are an adequate host. They may become anxious if they know people are coming, unable to put a drinks reception and banquet together. Simply spending time together can be a gift in itself and could make someone’s day!
- Light a candle. A glowing candle brings a sense of calm to any room. A scented candle can carry aromas around the whole house. “The candle’s flame is also thought to symbolically represent the human soul and serve as a reminder of the frailty and beauty of life.” Candles help us to remember people no longer with us.
- Thoughtful gifts. Remember its quality over quantity. Sometimes we get carried away spoiling people (especially children) as we find the act of giving a joyous thing. However, carefully consider what the individual wants, rather than what you would like them to have. An unwanted gift is a waste of time and money. Consider alternatives like activities, a love letter, experiences, a meal, a homemade item, a photograph or a task (tidying a garden, putting up shelves etc.).
- Outside inside. When out on your winter walk (no.5) look for symbols of the season to decorate your home. Pine cones, branches and holly bushes can make beautiful aromatic Christmas decorations. Remember to be responsible and take small cuttings from public areas.
- Carol singing. Not only is singing a great social event and a lot of fun, but it is also good for your health! It increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body. The psychological benefits are proven to reduce stress levels through the action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being.
- Bake it together. One of the most popular shows of recent times Great British Bake Off, shows the desire people have to bake and learn how to bake. Why not get a group of friends or family together to bake and share recipes?
- Charity work. If you could spare some time out of your own life to help others, you wouldn’t regret it. We are all guilty of being wrapped up in our own lives and forgetting those less fortunate than ourselves. Now more than ever, people are struggling to feed their families and keep a roof over their head. Consider helping out at homeless shelters, food banks, local church projects and hospitals. Do you have a lonely neighbour that would appreciate your company and a bit of a natter over a brew?
- Make Plans. Not only is Christmas a time for reflection, but it is a time to look forward to the New Year. The inevitable anti-climax that follows Christmas can be thwarted by exciting plans for the year ahead. It doesn’t have to be booking a holiday (it’s no accident that travel agencies advertise on Boxing Day) it could just be simply visiting relatives or days out in the summer.