Christmas is rapidly approaching. Although it’s supposed to be the ‘happiest time of the year’ rising numbers of people are reporting experiencing ‘festive stress’.  Festive stress occurs when people try to make Christmas perfect; they try to take on too much and do too many things. There’s just so much to do. Between looking after family members, buying the perfect presents, creating amazing meals and always putting on a happy face it’s no wonder that people feel stressed out and like they’re not coping.

Focus on the things that matter.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and believe that everyone needs the ‘perfect’ gift or that all meals need to be lovingly hand-made. But I invite you to take a moment to consider what’s actually important to you.  I’m guessing you’ll say that it’s being with your family, celebrating with your friends, showing love and appreciation.  None of those things involve spending lots of money or spending hours that you don’t have fighting your way through the Christmas scrum on the high street. By cutting back on what’s not important you can make room for the things that actually matter.

For instance, ask yourself what you can do to really let the people in your life know how much you value them.  Perhaps you could write them a letter or draw them a picture.  Maybe you could just simply take a couple of hours to drop around and have a cup of tea with them and talk, being fully present.  Do they need help completing a project? Perhaps you can commit some time to help support them to achieving a goal?.  Whatever it is that you decide to do, you’ll likely feel your stress levels dropping as you spend time with them.

Minimise stress.

Perhaps you know that your family has form for arguing on Christmas Day. Just thinking about it is enough to give you a headache from the stress!  Make a plan now for how you can handle the day without getting drawn into the arguments.  Spend a little time meditating every day leading up to Christmas. It’s easy to do, just find somewhere to sit quietly.  All you need to do is just observe what comes up without judgement, and then let it go.  Practising  letting go of thoughts, without judgement will help you to not get drawn into the chaos on the day. Make a list of techniques and ideas to have up your sleeve.  You’ll find it easier to smile and carry on through the chaos, without getting drawn into it.

Take care of yourself.

It’s easy to let yourself slip down the priority list when there are so many things to do and so many people to see. However it’s even more important at this time of year to take time out to look after yourself.  Take time to go for a long walk, make sure you are eating well, sleeping properly and not drinking too much.  By looking after your basic needs you’ll notice that you can handle stressful situations much more easily.

I hope you all have a wonderful festive season, without festive stress! I look forward to communicating with you all in the new year.