7 ways to tackle Christmas stress

During the Christmas period it can sometimes feel like everyone wants a ‘piece’ of you.

Friends, family, extended family, and in-laws may all have the expectation you will spend large amounts of time with them.

Alternatively, you may have volunteered (or be expected) to host large numbers of guests in your own home. If you are hosting an event it can be easy to get caught up in the search for perfection, over-spending on meals and gifts, and stressing over family relationships.

For those with children there are end of school events, graduations and waiting for end-of-year results. For those with younger children managing care or activities over the long holiday break can be difficult.

This is all compounded by the year-end often being one of the most stressful periods at work. Everyone seems to want something before the close of business and deadlines are tight. Many people are working extended hours and trying to juggle work, family and social activities.

Navigating the social festivities at work can be equally arduous. There can be client events as well as your own which puts pressure on your time. Picking your boss’s name out of the hat for Secret Santa can create anxiety over what is an appropriate gift. One too many drinks at the Christmas party may leave you compromised and concerned about repairing your professional image and relationships.

So what can you do to regain the feeling of control, reduce the stress and genuinely make Christmas an enjoyable period?

1. Write a “to do” list – reduce pressure by preparing a list of what needs to be done and think about who can help you. Prioritise the list and consider if everything really needs to get done or if some are “nice to do” rather than “important to do”.

2. Prepare a budget and stick to it – nothing adds to stress as quickly as mounting bills and unpaid credit card debt. With good planning and some creativity the gifts and Christmas festivities can be achieved on a small budget.

3. Learn how to switch off, literally – with mobile phones, WI-FI everywhere and email on the go, we rarely disconnect and really relax. For a little time each day, and during the most important parts of your celebration with family and friends, turn your phone off and forget about email. It might be difficult, but being tuned out for brief periods of time will make a world of difference to you and to the way you enjoy time with others.

4. Be present – spend your time being ‘in the moment’ and creating genuine memories, rather than telling everyone about it on social media. Time spent on Facebook and other sites can draw you away from actually enjoying the company of those you are with – you can still share the stories later.

5. Don’t expect miracles – recognise that there may be some tension at Christmas gatherings and avoid known triggers. Those involved in fun activities, such as back yard cricket, are less likely to get into arguments.

6. Exercise is a great stress buster – it doesn’t need to be a mammoth effort, just taking a walk can help you to stay on track.

7. Get enough sleep and rest – to enjoy the season to the maximum try and keep your sleep pattern intact and aim for at least seven hours sleep a night. Take some rest breaks during the day – even just 10 minutes to enjoy a cup of tea can help.

About the Author

Michele is the Chief Executive Officer of Davidson Trahaire Corpsych (DTC), a provider of employee assistance programs, critical incident management, and employee wellbeing services.

Michele has significant expertise in the areas of employee wellbeing and risk management in the workplace. She is highly regarded for her focus on the ‘big five” workplace risk areas of stress, bullying, mental health, change and conflict.

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