Why so stressed – It’s only Christmas!
‘S’ is for Santa not Stress-mas
According to research 1 in 20 people find Christmas can be as stressful as getting a divorce or burgled! As we enter into WBC: the Week Before Christmas stress levels can start to rise and take over from the joy of the festive season.
I am no exception every year I tell myself I won’t get strung out like a set of fairy lights and yet every time I find myself more than slightly frazzled at this point. My brain is jam packed with’ to do’s’, sleep is delayed by a mental checklist of items to post before the cut off date and this year I bolted awake with the realisation I had forgotten to order festive cellophane – I mean come on really, whats going on here people?!
Why do we do this to ourselves? I say we because I have a feeling I’m not alone here on the Christmas or should I say Stress-mas treadmill. I’m aware that a lot of my pressure is self imposed, I do ridiculous things like like wonder if I can squeeze an afternoon in with the Rug Doctor. Seriously who cares if the carpets are cleaned, they’re going to be covered in shoes and Christmas paraphernalia 5 mins after everyone arrives.
I have no idea why I feel compelled to be Wonder Woman at this time of year but I’m sure I’m not the only masquerading as a cross between Nigella Lawson and Martha Stewart. Every friend I’ve spoken to recently the conversation has revolved around the ‘All ready for Christmas?’ question .
Last year I practically ran myself into the ground trying to create the perfect Christmas before my eldest two children flew the nest. So this time in an attempt to salvage my sanity I declared we were having a shake up. This year the festive table will be graced with a pre cooked turkey and ham pie to save hours spent in the kitchen and free me to join in with a games of twister and maybe heaven forbid a Christmas film without rushing off to baste the turkey.
Despite the best laid plans so far this weekend has been stressful. In an attempt to get ahead of the game with said pie I spent yesterday up to my eyes in pastry while trying to mentally schedule a slot for putting up the tree. The one saving grace this year is that despite the sadness that my youngest has moved into non believer territory I no longer have the stress caused when your child evokes that age old tradition of changing their Christmas present wish list just when you have the ‘must have’ toy already hidden in the wardrobe.
This morning I awoke at 5.30am yes 5.30 with my head space already at 90 % capacity and I had a ‘what am I doing?’ moment. Although I think it’s too late to announce I’m not doing Christmas this year, the prep train has already left the station, I did decide that I still have time to reduce the stress and avoid the chances of becoming slightly hysterical by Christmas Eve.
With that in mind I decided I was going to adhere to the following:
When things are frantic and the pressure builds we often start to breathe more shallow. Take a few moments through out you day and at times when you feel stressed to consciously take a few deep and relaxing breaths. A minute or two of deep breathing can help to calm the senses. deep breathing overrides the stress function. You could also try diffusing some relaxing and stress busting essential oils in a diffuser to create a more calming environment
Give yourself a mini relaxation break from the Christmas prep and to do lists by practising a 15 min guided meditation. There are plenty of short guided meditation videos on YouTube to help relieve stress. Why not take a relaxing bath. A 20 min soak isn’t going to derail Christmas, adding some calming bath oils and a handful of epsom salts to help soothe and release tension can work wonders. If your feeling particularly stressed out you could try practising EFT there and then to restore stress levels to something more manageable.
Yes you heard me lady, the world isn’t going to fall apart if you hand over the reins to your very own little helpers. If like me you find it difficult to take off your superhero mantle at this time of the year this one might prove a little harder to implement. I’m going to do my very best to turn a blind eye to slightly wonky mince pies and make like a friend of mine who was thinking of paying her daughter to write the family Christmas cards. Just don’t ask me to hand over the decorating of the tree, I’m not quite ready for that!
4. Give it up
This one is about prioritising. I plan to write a ‘give it up’ list; what can I forego this year? Top of my list will be carpet cleaning!
Take 5 mins to think over all the little or not so little things you have left to do and work out what you can give up. If your overwhelmed by writing dozens of cards then just send out the 10 most important ones. Do you really need to wash the cushion covers on the sofa?- I know, I know don’t judge, I’m giving it up!
5. Enjoy the moment
With all the hustle and bustle it can become far too easy to miss out on the joys of the festive season. There are many things that have to be done which should be joyful but can sometimes prove to be a bit stressful. Like a last minute dash the shops on the busy weekend of the year when you discover the fairy lights that went into the loft in fully working order are now showing no sign of life. This time instead of thinking how much I am having to do I’m going to take a different perspective. As I wrap each gift I will think about the person I’m wrapping it for, all the things they do that make me smile and why I love them. While putting up the decs I will recall the memories behind them from over the years. Remember smiling and laughing can change your biochemistry and combat stress hormones.
With these simple little self help tips hopefully stress will become a ghost from Christmas past.
Wishing you all a fun filled and stress free Christmas.