Posted by & filed under Stress.

Here come the holidays. And the headaches. And the hurrying around.

All for the merriment and joy we believe should come with the season.

It seems that Christmas is just more work, and stress, at the end of a long and hectic year.

How can you make the season bright again? Try a few of the following tips for a stress-free Christmas:

Wish yourself a more conscious Christmas.
Take a good look at how you are experiencing the season. Be honest with yourself. Do you love the season, but hate family gatherings? Do you hope for things or relationships that never materialise. Has the commercialism and consumerism become a source of irritation, rather than anticipation?

It’s okay to feel that way. It’s stressful, and inauthentic, to force yourself to feel anything other than what you feel. Give yourself permission to be where you are, and honor your emotions honestly, with more emotional awareness.

Prime the path to peace and joy with self-care.
The crush of shiny ornaments and twinkling lights makes us think we can accomplish our normal hectic pace, plus long stints of shopping, travel, and entertaining — and manage all the relationships and expectations that come with the season. All without taking time to regroup and refresh. Spare yourself the melt-down.

Before you pencil in the holiday musts, have-to’s, and to-do’s, prioritise time for yourself. Sleep well, eat well, and schedule some relaxation. Keep stress from creeping in, and ruining your attempts to deck the halls, and celebrate merrily.

Put holiday perfection aside.
Time spent manufacturing the perfect atmosphere, gifts, and family interaction is often too much pressure. This Christmas, forget attempts to keep everything “just so,” and indulge yourself.

Bake something messy. Let the kids string the lights. Post candid photographs that capture your actual holiday experience, instead of Instagram edits, and Facebook-perfected versions. It will feel good to relinquish control of Christmas, so that you can relax and enjoy.

Focus on being present instead of financing presents.
Somehow at Christmas, two and two add up to 10 and with little more, we’re off to the shops. Off to create yearlong financial stress and worry.

Instead of investing cash you don’t have, give generously of your gifts and talents. Devote yourself to spending time with loved ones. Stick to a budget. Volunteer. You’ll find you are less stressed, more grateful, and more invigorated by this approach to Christmas.

Trade “ho-ho-hos” for a few “no, no, nos.”
Who says you have to go to all those parties? Why not turn down a few invitations in favor of spending the evening at home, with the lights low, gazing at your own tree or fireplace? Merrymaking is fine, if you’re in the mood. But feeling forced to be jolly is stress you can forgo. Respect your own holiday happiness.

Keep in mind that seasonal stress fades.
Thankfully, the intense cheer and high expectation of the holidays are condensed into just six weeks or so. The holidays are temporary, and if you find them too pressure-filled, keep reminding yourself that you have over 10 months to enjoy, before doing it all again. A little perspective can help disrupt a lack of Christmas spirit and keep stress manageable.

‘Tis the season for reflection.
Use this time of year, with all its memories and old-fashioned traditions, to look back and also look ahead. Take some of the season’s promised peace for yourself, to meditate and embrace the sentiments of the season. Stress tends to recede when you take time to breathe, journal, and honor what matters most.

Here’s to a stress-free Christmas!

Interested in counselling for stress to help you manage better all year round? Call Neil Ward on 07970 860 711. Counselling sessions are available in Glasgow, by phone and also by Skype video.

Neil Ward Counselling