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How to stay calm at Christmas

Christmas can be magical and meaningful, but unfortunately, it can also be a very busy time of year.

For some, Christmas can be a stressful time. Not only are there plenty of things to do, buy and remember but we can also be feeling the pressure in other ways.

Hot cup of tea amongst christmas decorations

We might remember loved ones that are no longer with us, have extra clutter, noise and people in our homes (yes, not everyone likes that), or struggle with finances.  We may also find ourselves in situations or with people that we would normally not have to deal with.

Christmas and the holidays can create mixed emotions and challenges. Perhaps it’s not the case every year or all the time, but I’m sure most of us can relate to feeling a whole range of emotions at Christmas, for both good and bad reasons.

So, if you’re struggling in the lead up to or during the holiday season, or find Christmas particularly emotional or tough, we hope we can offer some useful suggestions on how to navigate the festive season.

  1. Get organised

Things are easier when you’re organised.  Winging it, particularly with something as multi-layered as Christmas can create extra unnecessary stress.  As early as you can, get organised around gift-giving, shopping - making sure you’ve bought everything you might need (from food to medicines!), travel plans etc.  Get the big-ticket items out of the way early.   

  1. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Not a baker?  Don’t embark on a gingerbread village project for the centre of the dining table.  Not a fan of big group events, visit people one on one to deliver presents. 

Whatever is creating angst, simplify it.  There is no point in letting things derail you or your Christmas Day.

  1. Prioritise self-care

Practice regular self-care and find time for yourself each day. It doesn’t need to take a long time or be expensive. Create positive habits around practical self-care and be as consistent as possible during the holidays. 

As they say, you can’t pour from an empty cup.  And we all know that when we’re depleted, everything is harder to cope with – yes, even (or especially) children’s craft projects. 

  1. Carve out time for yourself

Even during the bustle of the festive season, take time to do things for yourself. Take the time to read your book, go for that walk etc.  Giving up the things that keep you grounded at a busy time of year isn’t going to help anyone. 

  1. Do away with the guilts

Christmas is a time of year where we are getting together to celebrate.  That means there will be ‘treats’ of all sorts.  Some we need to steer clear of and some we can indulge in a little. 

If you choose to enjoy a meal with friends, enjoy it.  Don’t beat yourself up for a little indulgence.  Just get back to your positive habits as soon as possible.

Remember it’s not what you do occasionally, it’s what you do every day that counts.  So keep up with your good habits and don’t get all crazy about it if you indulge a little on one day.

  1. Create a calm space

If you’re having Christmas at your place, create a quiet corner and let people know it’s there when people want to find a little peace.

I can guarantee there will be a few guests that are thankful for the retreat.

  1. Get into nature

On the extra festive/busy days, try to start the day with a nice walk or time in nature.

Nature has such a calming influence and it might make a good antidote to the hustle and bustle of a busy, festively chaotic home.

  1. Be ok with saying no

You don’t have to accept every invitation, you don’t have to volunteer do everything, you don’t have to ….

Say yes to the things you want to do (and a couple of the things you need to say yes to) and let the rest slide. 

  1. Use music as mood alchemy

Music is magic for your mood.

It can literally shift your mood. Classical or ambient to calm, carols to create a festive feel, pop to drop the day from your shoulders. Add a bit of movement with a kitchen karaoke or boogie session.

Choose your playlists with care and have it ready to pop on when you want to create a certain mood.

  1. Don’t compare

Take other people’s stories with a grain of salt.  Look at their social media posts with an air of scepticism. 

Everyone has good days, bad days, boring days, nothing is working out days, bad hair days, I can’t be bothered days and every day in between.

Rarely do we hear about the bad things – by nature, most people like to spruke themselves up a few notches, remember that and don’t let it get to you.  Don’t compare yourself with them, you really don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.  

  1. Forget perfection

Life isn’t a romantic Christmas movie (although I am looking forward to a few weeks of happy princess Christmas movies).  Happy and relaxed is better than Instagram perfection.

Make it nice, make it pretty but don’t drive yourself crazy getting it just so.  At best you’ll get a few seconds of ‘wow’, not quite worth the stress. 

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