Merry Stressmas everyone: How to survive the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s meant to be a time of peace, joy, goodwill to all, and spending time with friends, family and loved ones. However, despite the fact Christmas is called ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, many will contradict you, telling you that for them, it’s actually the most stressful time of their lives.

Add in a pandemic, financial concerns, domineering relatives, the bore who drinks too much alcohol, and the idiot you’ve managed to avoid the other eleven months of the year, visiting your home, sure is it any wonder our mental health and wellbeing comes under enormous amounts of stress?

Therefore, for those of us who’ve decorated, shopped ourselves silly, written and posted piles of cards, and panicked as we checked our dwindling bank balance, here are my top tips for protecting our emotional wellbeing this festive season.

  • Recognise your feelings and accept that they are valid. Therefore, if you’re anxious and feeling overwhelmed, try not to feel pressured into doing/attending/cooking/visiting anything or anyone outside of your comfort zone. Try to remind yourself that Christmas is really just one day a year, so celebrate it and observe it, exactly how you choose to!
  • When you’ve recognised those feelings, set expectations for yourself (and everyone in your circle) by explaining how you’d like Christmas to look and how you’d like it to go. Please remember to ask them how they’d like their day to go too. If a situation turns up and you feel it threatens to spoil the preparations you’ve strived so hard to put in place, please don’t be afraid to say so; and importantly, don’t be afraid to set boundaries and say “no” to someone you don’t want on your guest list.
  • Now that we’ve set our expectations and our boundaries, it’s time for ‘control freaks’ (like me), to come to terms with the fact we cannot manage everything that happens on the day. We cannot restrict what our parents/relatives say after too much wine; nor can we control our moody teenagers’ bad attitudes. However, as we obsessive compulsive perfectionists absolutely must maintain control over something, why not take control of our own thoughts and our own actions and let everyone else worry about theirs.
  • Try to get as much sleep as possible. We all know that sleep deprivation can result in our emotions going into overdrive. Therefore, instead of partying hard or staying up late four nights in a row to binge on Netflix, prioritise yourself and go to bed early. Remember, a good night’s sleep not only helps reduce our stress levels, it also helps boost our immune systems, something which is very important during these uncertain Covid-infused times.