How to Avoid Stress at Christmas: how planning can help reduce stress at Christmas time
How to avoid holiday stress [and what to do if all else fails]
Are you always stressed out during the holiday season? Wondering how you can avoid stress at Christmas? Well, you’re not alone.
With all the hard work, shopping, expenses, let alone family arguments, Christmas can cause the most zen-like of us to lose our cool!
Read on to learn some simple ways you can help to reduce stress at Christmas, and lessen the impact of family feuds.
Data from 2019 shows that a quarter of people in the UK feel that Christmas negatively impacts their mental health. Over 50% of women felt stressed out during holidays, compared to 35% of men. It’s probably gotten even worse during the pandemic.
And it’s no wonder people are feeling like this – there are demands coming from all sides. We’re doing our best to create the perfect holiday atmosphere: from decorating to gift-hunting, cooking and entertaining the kids and parents. Let alone if you have a complicated relationship with your family.
Feeling Overwhelmed at Christmas Time
The pressure around getting Christmas “perfect”, is all around us this time of year. Constant bombardment of advertising, wants and needs all around us, and trying to keep everyone happy. And all this for just one day of the year.
Perfectionism can only make the holiday season worse. If you’re a Christmas perfectionist, this might be hard for you, but don’t be afraid of imperfections.
If you’re stressing out about fitting everything in, think about what you can let go of. Maybe you don’t need to win everything at Christmas. Maybe you don’t need to cook everything from scratch. And maybe good enough wrapping paper is good enough, instead of the shiny bows it took you 2 days to hunt down!
And let’s face it, we could all do more to reduce waste this time of year too! Think about how you can recycle and reuse where possible. Not only could this save you time, but you could help the planet too… now that’s winning Christmas!
Family Arguments at Christmas
Another great source of stress for many comes from family relations. Handling holidays and family can be challenging. Different expectations, habits and holiday traditions can cause heated family arguments. Past family trauma can be revived.
Just being around parents, caregivers, siblings or the wider family unit, can trigger us back to feeling like a child again. Likewise, it can also trigger our parents and family to seeing us that way too. If we’re not careful, we can quickly get drawn into the drama triangle, and find ourselves in a triggering feedback loop.
And the fact that the holiday hustle is stressing everyone out doesn’t help to ease the tension. But you don’t have to let stress during holidays ruin your experience!
Staying present and recognising when we’re slipping into childlike behaviours or wanting to be right, can help to avoid heated situations. Noticing when others are being triggered can help too.
But it’s not easy with all the challenging dynamics. And let’s face it, there’s no such thing as a fully functional family, especially at Christmas!
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely looking for advice on how to avoid stress at Christmas time. Here are some steps you can take to have a more peaceful festive season.
Planning Ahead to Avoid Stress at Christmas
1. Have a plan
Preparations are the key to success.
Choose specific days for chores like shopping and baking. Plan your holiday menus ahead of time and make a shopping list. Make sure you have all the ingredients in advance, so you don’t have to scramble for groceries at the last minute. Plan who will be helping you (and when) with all the holiday preparations and cleanup. Let them know in advance.
Also have a plan B. What will you do if things go awry or if you get overwhelmed? Having a backup plan can be a great way to figure out how to avoid stress at Christmas.
Consider past holidays and particular pain points that tend to repeat themselves. If you tend to get tired of hanging out with so many people, maybe schedule some alone time this year. If you have a particularly difficult relative, it can be a good idea to limit the time spent with them.
Think about situations that are acceptable to you and those that are not. Give yourself permission in advance to say no. Brainstorm ideas on how you can squeeze in more fun and relaxing activities this holiday season.
Having a good holiday plan will help you keep stress during Christmas low.
2. Prepare distractions
Is there a certain uncle in your family who loves to get into heated political arguments? Or maybe you have an aunt who’s always quick to nag about the taste of any food prepared by anyone other than herself?
That can ruin the mood, especially during Christmas dinner.
Think about topics and situations that tend to be a trigger for you or your family members. How can you avoid them?
It’s a good idea to prepare different distractions that can quickly pivot a conversation or stop an argument in its tracks. Think about different games, conversation starters and jokes. All of them can help shift focus when things get messy. The key is to keep your cool. Don’t let yourself get drawn into arguments. Ask other family members beforehand to help you with distractions when necessary.
3. Lean into people’s strengths
Create a team environment by getting people to do what they do best. Let them help with food prep or take charge of games. Asking your grandpa to tell a story can help bring the best out of people, even if you’ve already heard it a hundred times before.
You can ask your mother-in-law to sing a Christmas song or your little brother to show all the new magic tricks he’s been learning. Think about your family and their strengths. I’m sure you can find a few ways to help them shine. It’s a great way to nurture the Christmas spirit!
Sometimes this might mean learning to accept imperfections, but it’s a low price to pay if the result is a more harmonious holiday. So, don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Let yourself feel the holiday magic once again, just like you did when you were a child.
Consider Hypnotherapy for Stress Management at Christmas
Sometimes, however, things simply don’t work out as expected no matter how hard you try. Sometimes you can’t help but get triggered by what someone says or does. Maybe your family members just won’t cooperate. And so frustration and stress build up and your holiday plans go to waste.
Hypnotherapy can help you let things go more easily. Release your old grudges and let yourself breathe more freely. Hypnotherapy for stress can be a great tool to help you better control your emotions and reactions – it will be much harder for someone to provoke you. It can help you find your holiday freedom by letting go of perfectionism and high expectations.
Hypnotherapy will help you put things into perspective and see other people’s actions from a place of kindness and understanding. Most importantly, it will help you find peace within yourself, regardless of what happens on the outside.
It can help you realise that your nagging aunt is actually utterly lonely and unhappy in her marriage or that your uncle is, in fact, deeply insecure. Their behaviour around the holiday table maybe gives them a sense of importance.
I want to emphasise that these are not excuses! Their behaviour is still wrong, but when you can see it for what it truly is and you can understand them, then you set yourself free.
Because now you understand that how they behave has nothing to do with you. Your vision is now clear and you can make better holiday decisions and plans from a place of compassion – both for yourself and for others.
If you wish to learn more about hypnotherapy, read more about it here. It’s never too late to have stress-free holidays!