How can I stop stressing at Christmas?

Christmas decorations

How do I stay calm at Christmas?

It’s supposed to be a great time of happiness, love and good cheer, but often it isn’t like that at all … it’s just stress, stress, stress.

It can be because we feel there is too much to do, or not enough money to do what we want. We can feel that everyone else’s Christmases are going just great, particularly when we scroll through social media.

It’s sad that many of us associate Christmas with stress, conflict and/or misery. Then after the event, there can be the guilt that Christmas wasn’t great, even though it was “supposed” to be. A few years ago I had a horrible Christmas. I decided not to pretend it had been a good one. When people asked me how my Christmas had been, I told them that I had hated it and it had been horrible. It was amazing the number of people who responded that they’d also had an awful time. You could see the relief they felt in sharing the guilty secret with someone who would understand, who wouldn’t judge.

Probably the most significant thing we can do to reduce our stress levels over the festive season is to look at our expectations and see if they are reasonable. It’s important to recognise that:

  • This holiday time may not make unhappy relationships any better.
  • Just because it’s Christmas it doesn’t mean people don’t feel fed up, irritable, depressed, tired and unhappy.
  •  People who hated Christmas last year are probably not going to decide this year that Christmas is wonderful.
  • Everyone will probably survive (and might even enjoy themselves), even if the dinner and the presents aren’t perfect.
  •  You will probably survive (and might even enjoy yourself), even if you can’t get into the size-smaller dress you rashly bought especially for Christmas day.
  •  You may well not have a perfect Christmas this year, but couldn’t you (and everyone else) be happy if it was just good enough?

But there are some simple self-help techniques that can make things even better.

There’s a simple self- help tip I’ve taught lots of people to help ease stress of any kind. It involves holding the bumps on your forehead known as frontal eminences. It takes only a few minutes but can have a dramatic effect on you. You can read about exactly how to do it here. You may be sceptical when you read how simple it is, but give it a go and see if it helps you.

Stress increases your need for the B vitamins. A good B vitamin supplement can help reduce stress and anxiety and help you sleep better and have more energy. In general people seem to do best on one with 50 mg of each of the main B vitamins.

Many people run out of energy and feel tired and overwhelmed with all they have to do, so here’s a 30 second pick-me-up. No matter how busy you are, you have time for this. It’s simple:

  • Stand or sit with both feet on the floor/ground.
  • Stay still and feel the strength of the earth supporting you.
  • Visualise the power and energy in the earth supporting and nurturing you.

You can do this just about anywhere – at your desk, in a lift, standing in a store queue, at a party, or even while cleaning your teeth.

Flower Remedies can help

If you feel you need some help, try taking flower remedies. These are available from health shops and many pharmacies. If you buy them from a health store, you may well be able to get advice on which one would be best for you, but here’s some suggestions from the Bach flower remedies: try

  •     Scleranthus if you dither over what to buy for whom
  •     Honeysuckle if you keep thinking about past, happier Christmases
  •     Heather if you are sad that you are on your own and won’t have people fussing around you
  •     Agrimony if you are always the life and soul of the party even when you feel miserable inside.

Ways to reduce your child’s holiday stress

If you have kids, they can be a major problem at this time. Getting over-excited by all the build-up, they can just add to your own feeling of overwhelm. So help your kids and help yourself by using Indigo essences. These gentle essences are specially formulated to help children be happier and more relaxed. They are essences made from crystals by Ann Callaghan and her nephews Ben and Mica and offer a unique system of help from a children’s view of the world. Check out the Indigo essences here.

How can we stop consumerism at Christmas?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the material element of Christmas, but you can send electronic Christmas cards that benefit charities or buy great gifts that go to people in need. You can agree with family and friends to limit the amount everyone spends on gifts. If you want to buy gifts (or just about anything else) and live in the UK, you can still contribute to charity through Easy Fundraising. It allows you to give to charity just by buying online from well-known stores – there’s lots of them. Currently charities get 0.75% to 15% of what you purchase and there are special vouchers you can use to get free delivery or discounts, so it’s a win-win situation for you and the charities, and you can choose which charity your money goes to: check it out here to find out more.

Try buying things from the Oxfam Online shop. This way you’ll be donating to a charity, buying a great gift and not increasing the amount of stuff in the world. They have new carefully-sourced gifts, but they also have clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery and collectables that have been donated to one of the many Oxfam shops. Look out for the BNWT (brand new with tags) and BNWOT (brand new without tags) items in particular if you are looking for gifts. Check out the book selection. You can probably find there a book that speaks to the passion of a friend/relative, making the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person.

Part of the secret of having a good Christmas is not expecting too much of yourself, your loved ones or your friends. The magic of Christmas doesn’t make people perfect, but with a little thought and preparation you can still have a magical time.