Five Tips for Dealing with Festive Stress
Tis the season to be jolly – as the famous Deck the Halls lyrics go… but as much as Christmas is a season of joy, merriment and celebration, it can also be stressful. With the financial burden of buying gifts and cooking large feasts on top of potentially having to manage tense family dynamics, it is not unusual to enter this festive season with a certain level of stress and anticipation.
So, as much as we cannot change the external factors that happen around us this Christmas, there are things we can do to manage stress internally. In this article, I will be sharing with you five tips for managing this stress in order to make this festive period a time of joy.
- Cut yourself some slack
Don’t get too hung up on creating the perfect day. Christmas is about celebrating with your loved ones, not about cooking the perfect meal or decorating your house to the standards of Martha Stewart. People will remember the conversation and the atmosphere, make life a little easier for yourself by letting go of the unimportant stuff and allow yourself to be able to relax with you friends and family rather than creating the ‘perfect day’.
- Remember to breathe
Breathwork is a brilliant tool for any stressful situation and Christmas is no exception. If you feel things becoming too much, take a time out (nipping to the bathroom is a great excuse) and try this breathing exercise.
Take one long deep breath through you nose whilst counting to seven, then breathe out again whilst counting to eleven. Repeat this as many times as you need to lower your heart rate. This breathing exercise activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is the nervous system that causes you to ‘rest and digest’ countering your sympathetic nervous system which controls your ‘fight or flight’ responses.
- Budget and plan
Advertising really ramps up a gear in the months leading up to Christmas and it can be very easy to get sucked into spending huge sums of money on gifts. If you, like many, this Christmas feel the financial stresses of this gift giving period, decide on a strict budget and plan accordingly. Don’t wait until the last minute to head out to do your Christmas shopping, try to plan out what you will need to buy and what you could miss out on this year and make a budget that reflects your realistic financial situation.
- Set boundaries
Remember that you always have the right to say no to anyone or any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. Just because it is Christmas, it does not mean you have to say yes to all demands that are made of you. Whether they mean to or not, family members or friends might pile on the pressure for more social events than you feel comfortable with. Decide what your boundaries are and stick to them, even if it feels difficult to do so. Protecting your energy will not only benefit you but everyone around you.
- Protect your self-care rituals
The Christmas period can be full on. Office parties, friend get-togethers, family reunions – socially, it can be exhausting and you can’t do it all. Protecting the rituals that keep you calm and de-stressed is essential. Make sure that you set aside some time each day to do something that brings you joy. Whether that be reading a book, having a quiet cup of tea away from everyone else, taking a hot bath or going for a stroll to take in some nature. Try to action some self-care each day to enjoy the things you love.
There are many physical signs of stress, from butterflies in the stomach to not being able to get to sleep – pay attention to how you are feeling and check in with yourself this Christmas. This is a time for joy and connection so take the time to ask yourself how you are feeling and action any or all of the above tips to make it a beautiful year to remember.
Lili Sinclair-Williams is the Founder of LSW London