The festive season should be a relaxing time spent with loved ones. Unfortunately, this might not always be the case for all of us. The Christmas season is full of joy but also responsibilities. The bad might outweigh the good if you aren’t careful and give in to the pressure. So how can you lighten your load, find balance and manage expectations this Christmas?
Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year?
We’re flooded by commercials that depict an idealised version of Christmas; happy families that never fight, a pile of presents, snowy weather and the perfect Christmas tree, which increases our expectations. You might feel pressured to make sure that your Christmas is as close to what you see on TV as possible.
The build-up to Christmas might be even more stressful. You’re expected to buy gifts, organise a family gathering and meet friends, all while working full-time. If you have children, there’s also a pressure to make the Christmas period magical just like in movies.
It’s no wonder that not many people enjoy the Christmas season. According to the 2019 survey, only 11% of respondents believe it has a very positive impact on their well-being, while 19% think the impact is fairly negative.
Managing your responsibilities and expectations
No matter how you feel about Christmas, the 25th of December it is happening either way. Here’s how you can find balance and take extra care of your mental health.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Some people might be blessed with good family relationships, financial security and a picture-perfect Christmas. However, this doesn’t mean that a celebration that doesn’t match the stereotype is something to be ashamed of. Try to focus on what you have and consider staying away from social media.
Christmas period can be extremely stressful which is why it’s important to learn how to take care of your mental health. Find ways to relax and put some time aside to do a pleasant activity at least once per day. For example, reading, stretching, playing with an animal or having a hot bath.
Prioritise your needs
It can be difficult to break out a pattern but sometimes you might have to set new boundaries. If you’re dreading Christmas because it means you have to balance a relationship with a toxic family member, it might be time to put yourself first this year. Be honest and let them know that you just want to spend this Christmas with people closest to you or even by yourself.
How to lighten your load today: Plan in advance
Prepare a to-do list ahead of time and today is no better time. Be realistic about what you can achieve without ending up emotionally exhausted and in debt.
Reduce your responsibilities
Just because things might have been done a certain way over the past few years doesn’t mean you can’t start a new tradition. If the workload seems too heavy, ask others for help. Could others help with the cooking or bring some food? Could your parents do the shopping? There’s also no shame in ordering a takeaway or opting for a gift-free Christmas.
Consider how to save money
Speaking of which, financial factors are one of the main reasons people find Christmas stressful – especially as we find ourselves within the cost of living crisis.
There are several ways you can consider reducing costs this Christmas:
- Talk to your family and agree on a maximum spend per person
- Arrange a Secret Santa
- Gifts can be handmade
- Reuse last year’s gift wraps and Christmas decorations.
- Where possible, buy second-hand and don’t be tempted by the sales.
- Also consider selling some of your old stuff that you no longer need.
Lastly, remember to be gentle with yourself. It’s okay if some things don’t go according to the plan and your loved ones will appreciate the quality time more than anything else.