Christmas is fast approaching, how is it December already? This year has totally flown by!
How does the thought that Christmas is around the corner make you feel?
(a) Excited, yay Santa’s coming woohoo, parties ahoy! Boom shack a lack, bring it on I love every second of the festive shenanigans!
(b) Anxious about money- fretting about how much it’s all going to cost and worried about where is the money is going to come from? Stressed about getting presents people will like? Worried about food, will there be enough, worried about eating too much? Families- urgh- too much time spent together, potential tension? How is it December already? Having so many things on the to-do list worried that they will never all done in time? Yada yada yada.
(C) Somewhere in between the two.
I suspect the answer will be b or c, and that’s totally OK. I see myself as a Christmas elf, I get swept away by the magic of it all and still (mostly) love Christmas. Despite this, I also get very stressed and anxious at this time of year. The list of things I worry about is endless and having two families 5 hours apart, makes Christmas ‘interesting’ to say the least when usually at least one day between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day is spent travelling the length of the M4 and beyond!
But what I feel a lot of us do to some extent is “people please” throughout the holiday season, sometimes at the detriment of our own mental health. We worry so much about other people, our own needs can be put aside, and we can feel frazzled and miserable when it’s supposed to be the time of love, merriment and joy.
Here are 10 tips to give yourself the best chance of having a stress-free, merry, healthy and ultimately a very happy Christmas.
- Plan Ahead– I know this is boring but planning ahead is so important to have a successful Christmas with minimal stress. Write down what food you are going to serve and in the weeks building up to Christmas, you can spread your gift buying over a few months. You can download a Christmas planner or checklist. Even plan the timings for the roast on Christmas day- this will help so much and reduce the probability of having any cooking disasters! Here is a free downloadable Christmas planner, you may find useful https://www.frugalfamily.co.uk/have-an-organised-christmas-with-my-amazing-free-christmas-planner-printable/
- Mindful Gift Giving– don’t get into debt going mad buying gifts it’s really not worth it! I know this is almost impossible to do, but last year I watched this video by Martin Lewis and it really struck a chord with me. https://youtu.be/KIXFSnNe_wQ So, try to stick to a budget, buy local where possible to support small businesses and look into making homemade gifts as well to keep the costs down. You could even do a secret Santa where each member of the family draws one name and buys just for that one person and has a budget to stick to. The sad reality is that we are mostly buying presents for the sake of buying presents and the gift could be unwanted or never used.
- Food Glorious Food Yum, mince pies, Christmas cake, mulled wine, turkey, quality street (except the orange one yuk!), twiglets, brandy sauce, yule log….the list is endless and all of this food is tasty, comforting and it’s true that most of us consume a lot more over Christmas than during any other time of year. Enjoy the food if you get pleasure out of it, but don’t forget those nutrients and try to still get fruit and vegetables. Anyone else has had a mince pie for breakfast because it’s Christmas? (hoping it’s not just me!) All I am saying to myself this year is to be more mindful about what I consume, enjoy the food and drinks but to make sure I still have a balanced diet throughout the festivities. And hydration is key too- keep up the water intake throughout!
- Make Mental Health a Priority– If you feel that your mental health is taking a dip in December, please ask for help. The Samaritans number is always available on 116 123 or talk to someone you trust. It’s ok to put yourself first if you are feeling mentally fragile- make time for self-care activities which you know you will get benefit from. Also please keep an eye out on your loved ones- if you feel that they may be struggling mentally, reach out to them- talk to them, see if you can help in anyway. A little compassion can make a massive difference to the way somebody is feeling.
- Alcohol– Tis the time for excess alcohol for most of us (yes me included ha) so of course I’m not going to say don’t drink, but just make sure you enjoy what you’re consuming and be safe when at parties or on night’s out. My top tip? Drink a pint of water before bed when you’ve been drinking! Yes, I know that may mean an extra toilet dash during the night but trust me your head will be far clearer in the morning! J My preferred hangover cure is a banana, sweet tea and a Berocca. Maybe a sausage sandwich after midday! I would love to hear your best hangover cure?
- Give Back– if you can, donate to a food bank, send a Christmas box to someone less fortunate or make a donation to your charity, or volunteer if you have time. Just donating a few items to a food bank can help massively a family in need- never underestimate the power of giving! Also, if you have an elderly neighbour, or know someone who is living alone, you could check on them or maybe make them some mince pies. Christmas is a great time to take part in random acts of kindness, 101 ideas for random acts of kindness can be found here https://www.naturalbeachliving.com/acts-of-kindness/
- Avoid Getting Ill – Those pesky bugs are everywhere at this time of year. I personally take a probiotic during December to try and ward off stomach bugs and have a Berocca every morning too. It is important to try to increase your fruit and vegetable intake and maybe contemplate taking a teaspoon on Manuka honey every morning. I find that hot lemon and honey great for an immune boost. Maybe look at taking a vitamin c or zinc supplement if you are not getting enough fruit and vegetables in your diet? Also it might be worth taking a vitamin D supplement over the winter months too, as this can also support the immune system and most of us don’t get enough naturally with the lack of sunlight during the winter months.
- Get outdoors– Go for a walk outside in nature, not only does this help clear your head, it also releases endorphins which help you to feel more positive. Is there anything lovelier than a family walk after lunch on Christmas Day?
- Set Boundaries– it’s OK to be selfish when needed, if it’s going to help your mental health. If you know you are going to be unable to deal with families for the whole of Christmas day, why not suggest they just come over for present opening and lunch or make it clear what the plan is so that there’s no room for misunderstanding? Maybe between Christmas and the New Year, set aside dedicated rest days where you can stay in your PJs all day and watch films and do what you need to do to rest. Any other introverts will know how important this is!
- Savour the Magic! Enjoy the moments and be grateful. This is important, during moments of joy, when you’re all around the table laughing and being silly, or whilst opening the presents, take a step back and savour the moment. These are the moments we live for, embrace the feeling of contentment and pleasure. Write down what you are grateful for and tell your loved ones how grateful you are for them. Share the love and embrace those precious moments- this is what Christmas is really about.
Remember, in the end it’s just one day. The build-up itself can feel overwhelming and never ending but remember to take part in activities that make your soul sing. If that’s going to a carol concert- great! If that’s laying on the sofa, watching Elf, that is great too 🙂
Hope you all have a magical December and a peaceful Christmas. Don’t forget to put yourself first sometimes and if needed, take steps to protect your mental health if needed too. If I don’t see you this month, hope to see you in 2020. Take care x