Top Tips for staying sane over Christmas

Dr Lynda Shaw gives some practical advice for a happy festive break

1. Lower your expectations

Not EVERYTHING has to be perfect. Remember that, and you are likely to have a much calmer and stress free holiday season. People don’t expect a Christmas straight out of a movie, so accept that some things may go wrong, and remember that no one is going to mind if the pastry on your mince pies isn’t quite right!

2. Blues

For some, Christmas can actually be a time when you feel very low.  Use the season to reconnect with people, focus on all the good things in your life and best of all find a way to help others.  It will give you a new perspective on Christmas.  If you are spending Christmas alone make it in to a positive experience by curling up with your favourite food, films and call loved ones during the day. Music has a way of being able to keep us calm and happy, so whether you stick on your favourite Christmas album or Classic FM, keep it playing throughout the day to keep your mood lifted and enjoy yourself!

3. Difficult relationships

If you are going to have to see someone at Christmas that you would rather not, be it an ex or a difficult aunt, make sure you are civil so you can hold you head up high but don’t you feel you have to spend any time with them.  A few cursory niceties are enough and then move on.  Now is not the time to be having big arguments.

4. Delegate

Learn to relinquish control of things. Hand over some jobs to other members of your family, maybe someone else could be in charge of the dessert? Or your partner could take over the decorations? Not having to oversee every tiny detail will allow you to concentrate on what is important to you.

5. Allow mess

This is part of relinquishing control, but you need to remember that Christmas is a children’s holiday! There WILL be mess! Even if your house is spotless the rest of the year, let go a little bit around the holidays, people are busy, kids are excited – with everything else you have going on, it’s ok to have a little bit of mess.

6. Budget

Christmas is a holiday that can get very expensive very quickly. Presents, food, decorations, cards, trips to visit family, all of this can add up, which can add lots of stress to what should be a fun time of year. You will sleep better and ultimately enjoy the season more if you are in control of your spending.  Stick to a budget and to what you can actually afford.

7. Learn to say no – manage other people’s expectations

So what if you are the one who ALWAYS cooks Christmas dinner? This year you may have just moved house, your daughter is having a baby and you have to go and visit your sister up in Yorkshire. Explain that you just aren’t up to it this year, and ask if someone else can take over the reins at Christmas or in the very least help you. Remember that the holidays are about you too, and you need to look after yourself.

8. Stop panic buying

Christmas shopping is a nightmare, and can often take the fun out of the season especially when the list just keeps growing and you just end up panic buying! If you have a large group of friends or family, why not suggest a day out or a nice dinner together instead of buying gifts or a Secret Santa? This can take away the worry that comes with feelings of competitiveness, or jealously, or anxiety about whether or not they are going to like it or if you have spent enough, and leaves you with a day that will give you all lots of happy memories.

9. Take a break – spend time with the family

Christmas is not a time of year where you want to burn yourself out.  Don’t over-commit to hosting or attending too many parties or events or you won’t enjoy the important ones and may become unwell.  Make sure that you keep your mind happy and healthy in the pre-Christmas mayhem.  Among all the presents and the food and the decorations, remember that Christmas is about spending time with your family and friends. Take regular breaks from the madness and just enjoy this time, forget about your ‘to do’ list and just relax.

10. Diet

Remember Christmas is not the time to be worrying about the waistline but try not to go too crazy because you will only have to work it off afterwards.