With only a couple of weeks to Christmas, now is the time to be thinking about how to take the stress out of this busy period and make it an enjoyable time.  Studies have shown that Christmas rates high on the stress scale.

Christmas is traditionally viewed as a time for friends and family to get together and celebrate, however for many people Christmas will bring up painful memories of loved ones who are far away or no longer there.  For people who are single, divorced or widowed, Christmas can be a lonely and difficult time.  The difference between the hype and the reality can make some people dread this time and wish it were over.

Regardless of your personal situation, a little thought now can help you avoid some of the pitfalls that often cause this time to be more stressful than it needs to be.  Set out below are some tips to help you manage the Christmas season ahead.

TIP 1 - PLAN - Start making a list of the tasks you need to do now.  If you like to send out cards or use email versions, choose them now and send them early.  Think about who you will buy gifts for and make a list.  Consider the option of donating what you may have spent on a gift for someone who really does not need any more "stuff" and help change the lives of people in disadvantaged situations.

TIP 2 - HAVE A BUDGET A lot of stress at Christmas comes from financial problems - work out how much you can afford to spend and keep to it.  Ignore the advertising hype and avoid expensive materialistic gifts which are unnecessary.  If money is tight and you have a big family, consider the popular Kris Kringal so you dont have to buy for everyone or just buy for children and not the adults.


TIP 3 - KEEP ENTERTAINING SIMPLE - If you are having Christmas at your house, don't exhaust yourself by overdoing it.  If you are working and looking after children, don't try to be super woman by rushing around buying gifts, cleaning and cooking the "perfect" Christmas meal.  Remember the focus should be on being with family and friends and having fun, not running yourself ragged and being too exhausted to enjoy yourself.  Don't try to do everything yourself - ask for help and delegate.

TIP 4 - GO EASY ON THE ALCOHOL -  If you are going to the work Christmas party, enjoy yourself, but make sure you drink in moderation.  You don't want to be the focus of office gossip[ after the party and spend the new year trying to live it down.  Find other ways to relax and indulge yourself during these busy weeks - have a massage, pamper yourself, increase your exercise, indulge in self care.

TIP 5 - BE PREPARED FOR FAMILY TENSIONS  - When family members get together at Christmas it can bring up old tensions, particularly if you don't see each other much throughout the year.  Keep a look out for potential conflict and minimise your time with any relatives you find difficult.  Remind yourself it is only a few hours and you won't have to see them for a while probably and keep your sense of humour.  If you are divorced and have childre, access visits can be difficult.  Try to put aside any negative feelings towards your ex partner and focus on making sure the children have a happy time.  

TIP 6 - SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU LIKE - If you find yourself doing the rounds of social visits out of politeness, keep these brief and spend more time with people who are special to you.  If you don't have any family, seek out people who are also spending Christmas alone and do something special together.

TIP 7 - KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS REALISTIC - Remember Christmas is only one day.  Don't get upset if everything is not perfect.  Sometimes with all the hype people can feel a sense of disappointment that this time did not live up to their expectations.  If everything did not go according to plan don't worry.  You can relax on Boxing Day when it is all over again for another year.


                                     MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR                                                               



© Dawn Vincent