There is no doubt that Christmas is a time of heightened and mixed emotion.
There’s of course the ever-present fantasy of having that perfect family day: Taking the kids around town to look at Christmas lights (never mind that they spend most of the car trip complaining about how long it’s taking), singing Christmas carols (also known as doing my head in with Jingle Bells on endless repeat), decorating the tree (well, there’s mostly ME decorating the tree, while trying to stop the kids from smashing the delicate baubles and my 5 year old shouting ‘I’m BORED’ after he pestered me for days to decorate the tree), and of course the excitement of opening the gifts on Christmas day (closely followed by a series of meltdowns because SOMEONE had a last minute change of heart over his Santa wish list). But I digress…
In all seriousness though, Christmas can be a particularly lonely, stressful and painful time for many of us.
For anyone who has lost a loved one or gone through a separation, Christmas is an especially difficult time of the year. For many others, Christmas also comes with increased stress that can take many forms – financial stress, work stress, relationship stress – and don’t even get me started on the drama associated with last minute Christmas shopping! Then of course we add in family dynamics into the mix and a dash of alcohol, coupled with social media pressure to have an Instagram worthy idyllic day, and it’s really no surprise that Christmas has been found to be among the 6 most stressful life events!
So, if Christmas time is filling you with an increased sense of stress and anxiety, here are a few tips to help you get through the festive season with ease.
Tip #1 Speak up
If you are growing increasingly stressed about how you are going to afford to host Christmas visitors or the last minute gifts still left on your todo list, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. I can assure you that you are not the only one struggling during this time of year! Simple things like buying joint gifts for friends and family, or (if you are hosting Christmas lunch or dinner) getting everyone to chip in and bring a dish can make a world of difference to your stress levels and bank account.
Tip #2 Give the gift of giving
Christmas time is a great opportunity to do some volunteer work as a family or to buy gifts for those less fortunate instead of each other. You don’t have to spend a lot to make a real difference in someone’s life. In fact, there is no better feeling than helping someone in need. Research by Volunteering Australia has found that volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer. And by helping others in need, you will also learn to redefine your meaning of happiness, and not take for granted how fortunate you are.
Tip #3 Bring out your inner warrior
The holiday season can make it all too easy to fall into the trap of making a mental list of ALL the things that are going wrong in your life. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that focusing on the negativity and the pain around you isn’t serving you and is only going to amplify your unhappiness. Instead, try to shift your focus by taking time out every day to write down 3 things in your life that you are grateful for. Trust me, it works! As Oprah famously said “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
And last but not least…
Tip # 4 Keep away from social media
Aside from the fact that being constantly glued to our phones is physically and mentally draining, social media is also a well-oiled bragging machine. So this Christmas day give yourself and your loved ones the ultimate gift of being present in the moment, cherishing the company of those around you (or if you find yourself alone, enjoying the company of a good book), and leave the instagram posse to entertain themselves! Life is not a competition, so don’t let social media fool you into feeling like you need to keep up with the Kardashians.
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