Friday, December 07, 2012

How to Survive Christmas

This year at the beginning of November, I started to plan for Christmas. This is most unlike me, as I love to work against deadlines, but a work commitment will take me away from home for much of December. I am now all done – the food is ordered, the cards written, presents wrapped, battle of the grandparents solved, only the tree to put up – and all the decorations are down from the loft ready and waiting. This is not about me being smug, rather the exercise got me thinking about the pressure we put on ourselves at Christmas as this year I haven’t been caught up in the usual hubbub of the December rush.

What is it about Christmas? It’s supposed to be the season of joy and goodwill, yet for many of us Christmas can be incredibly stressful – and there are dozens of surveys to prove it!  Research commissioned by the Food Standards Agency reveals that preparing and cooking a traditional turkey is second only to shopping as the most stressful Christmas activity. A MORI survey of 2,000 adults found that many Christmas shoppers would prefer a trip to the dentist to the stress of hunting for presents and that only one in five adults actually enjoys the experience. And according to mental health charity MIND, one in five of us gets stressed during the festive season.

Christmas should be fun but – if you're not careful – it can also send your stress levels soaring. We are busy for weeks before the festive holiday even starts, buying presents and going to parties. We overload our bodies with rich food and stimulants – like alcohol and caffeine – which increase stress and, worst of all, we have high expectations of Christmas which piles on the pressure. But remember, you can make the choice not to be stressed now.

So write down a list of all the things you absolutely have to do.  If there are too many things on the list, put them in order of priority and cross off the bottom third or give those responsibilities to someone else.  Then, at the top of the list, write down your “Christmas mission statement”:

"To have a relaxing stress-free Christmas with lots of fun and laughter."
Merry Christmas!

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