Christmas should be a restful, fun-filled time of year, but instead it can often be filled with frantic cooking, stressful trips to the shops and family arguments. This year more than ever, we are all in need of a relaxing time over the festive season, so here are five ways you can reduce the stress that comes with Christmas.
Prepare ahead for Christmas
It’s an age-old adage, but preparing ahead will always give you the best chance of success. Even if you haven’t managed to finish your Christmas shopping in November, getting the presents bought well in advance of the big day will prevent last minute panic.
When it comes to Christmas food, you can prepare ahead of time too. Make a Christmas meal plan so you know what you need to have in the fridge and avoid dashes to the shops at the eleventh hour. For the day itself, list out when everything will need to be in the oven. You can even assign jobs to different people so you know you don’t have to do everything yourself.
Christmas can often come with pressure to travel, see family and do more than you would at other times of year. All this pressure can leave Christmas feeling like more work, when it should be a time of relaxation. Thankfully this year you’re unlikely to feel pressured to see family, but in future years, be comfortable saying no when you’ve already got enough on your plate.
Take the pressure off
Coming from an ex-perfectionist, believe me when I say life is easier when you lower your standards. While in your head you have images of drifting around the kitchen like Martha Stewart, effortlessly whipping up yet another batch of delicious cookies, in reality that might just not be possible!
If you need to buy ready-made food to stay sane, do it! Get a takeaway instead of making Boxing Day dinner. Settle for simple gift wrapping instead of an elaborate, time-intensive option. It’s not worth going all out if you’re not able to enjoy it at the end.
A walk might be traditional on Boxing Day, but why not try getting out into nature more often over the Christmas period? While sitting in front of the TV can be enticing (and you should definitely do plenty of that!), getting fresh air is one of the best ways to reduce stress. Although I often dread the thought of pulling on my wellies, I never regret a walk in the woods with my kids. There’s nothing like being in nature to blow away the cobwebs and help you feel re-energised and joyful.
Christmas is traditionally the season of overindulgence, so it seems a little counterintuitive to suggest minimising what you eat, drink and buy! But in fact, I have found over the years that when we have a simple, minimal Christmas we are much happier! We buy fewer gifts than we used to, eat smaller portions (though the food is still delicious!) and cut back on alcohol for more of the merriment and fewer hangovers.
Not only does it reduce the amount of stress, but we save money and find it more relaxing to be together as a family. While certainly not for everyone, having a more minimal Christmas has transformed the season for us.