Why is there so much pressure to have the perfect Christmas?
This is meant to be the “most wonderful time of year” and is viewed as a chance to recharge our batteries and connect in a meaningful way with our friends and family. But invariably, the expense of shopping for gifts and food and the perceived pressure can make this season stressful. It can also be lonely for those who won’t spend their day tucking into a tasty dinner or singing Christmas carols with a big family.
So if you feel overwhelmed by the expectation, the chores or the thought of navigating family dynamics, you are not alone! More than a third of adults suffer from holiday burnout, but what can you do to help alleviate the situation?
General ideas to help you navigate this season more easily include:
1. Budget for Christmas so that you don’t overspend. Don’t go to the expense of overloading on presents because of commercial pressure. Inevitably too many gifts end up re-gifted, given to charity or, at worst, thrown away. If you asked your friends and family, most would say that they 100% do not want you landing yourself in debt for the next 12 months by buying expensive gifts – just spending a bit of time together can be the best present.
2. Tell people how you feel – talking is good. It is normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed – you are not alone. Make sure you talk to people about how you feel and if you think it is easier to talk to someone you don’t know, please reach out to one of the many organisation such as the Samaritans or Living Life which is a free phone service offering therapy for anyone in Scotland over 16 years of age with low mood, mild to moderate depression or anxiety.
3. Take time for yourself! It is not always easy when juggling work, families, and the pressures of the season, so it’s vital to take time out to charge your own battery. Don’t be afraid to say no to some things.
4. Where possible, plan ahead to save both time and money. For example, making lists of presents to buy and groceries you’ll need prevents you from forgetting something and makes it easier to stick to a budget.
5. We all love a Christmas party but try not to drink to excess – all too often, we have had the morning after fear and is it not good for our mental health, particularly during a season when everything can already be stressful.
6. If you can, do something for others by channelling the spirit of Christmas. It doesn’t have to be huge, just something with values that will bring joy, such as popping in to see an elderly neighbour, volunteering for a charity or providing essential support and encouragement for others in need. Sharing joy is always joyous.
7. Don’t do everything yourself – ask family members to bring different parts of the meal or help with the day’s activities, and ensure everyone supports with the tidy-up. Just because you are hosting does not mean you should be at the beck and call of your guests – the day should be about fun and enjoyment.
8. If you are feeling under pressure, it can lead to symptoms of anxiety and difficulty sleeping which can have a significant detrimental impact on your mental health and well-being. However, trying to exercise more regularly or practise mindfulness, such as breathing techniques or yoga, can help alleviate your stress symptoms and gain more control when coping with difficult situations.
9. Finally, don’t forget to focus on your sleep! Despite many of us having time off work during Christmas and the New Year, the busy season and late-night parties can take a toll on your sleep. So try to ensure you stick to a regular sleep pattern, switch off your devices and plan in as many early nights as possible.
Whatever you do this season, be kind to yourself. It should be a time to be happy and connect with the people you love – take a few minutes each day to breathe slowly and remember that.
Whatever your plans for the season are, we wish you peace and happiness.