• Judith Newton

Take steps now to enjoy a stress-free Christmas!

I thought I'd get in early so we could start planning a stress-free Christmas now before the stress sets in! Yes, it is possible - all we need is a little planning, a little rethink of our expectations, a realisation that we're only human and that near enough is most times good enough! Ready? Here goes!

1. Stop trying to be perfect. You are loved as you are! Be the best version of you that you can be & that's good enough for anyone!

2. Keep things simple. You're not competing on Masterchef nor are you trying to win the Christmas lights house decorating prize. Do what you need to do to make your home festive and cheerful & your food tasty for your family on Christmas Day! It doesn't have to be a mammoth endeavour. Do a few things well & remember less is quite often more!

3. Review your Christmas rituals & traditions. Just because something worked in the past, perhaps when your children were little, doesn't mean you have to continue to do it over and over again now that your kids are teenagers! Do you really need to go and look at the Christmas shop windows in town every year? Be choosy - keep the traditions that are important to everyone in the family & drop the rest. Alternatively, create a new Christmas tradition - just make sure it's easy to do & stress-free.

4. Remember the reason for the season. Yes, Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. For Christians, it's a time to be grateful, happy, thankful. I'm sure Jesus wants that from us & not a lot of stressed-out people being busy doing things that probably really aren't that important in the big picture. Enjoy Christmas, enjoy your family & friends. Value your own personal health & well-being above trying to do things that in the long run really won't matter. Your family might remember your fabulous Christmas pudding but once you've left this earth I, for one, would rather them remember me for the laughs, love & joy that we shared at Christmas.

5. Keep your routines going. If you love to go for an early morning walk, enjoy your weekly yoga class or always read a chapter of your book before bed, then please don't give up these pleasures in order to do more things for Christmas. These things that you regularly do for yourself help you keep your sanity & really do help put things in perspective.

6. Do things that bring you joy. Yes, I know we're in the middle of the busiest season of the year but why should you put happiness on hold? If you want to catch up with a friend for lunch, then do it. Or perhaps you've always wanted to sing in a Christmas choir? Don't put your own needs on hold, you're worth more than that!

7. Share the load. You don't have to do everything yourself! You don't have to spend all your money to make Christmas more fabulous than ever, nor do you have to spend all your time & energy either. Enlist help & support from your family & friends. In fact, doing this can make the preparation an event in itself. Imagine your family all in the kitchen peeling potatoes, making salads, drinking wine as you all prepare the Christmas dinner together. Sounds pretty good to me!

8. Make online shopping your best friend. I don't know about you but doing your Christmas shopping in the city or at shopping centres can be a marathon effort and one that I believe you need to train for at least 6 months before the event! With online shopping now more popular than ever, you can shop when you like, wearing what you like (thinking pyjamas), with a glass of wine in your hand if you want. If you're concerned about fraudsters and online shopping, there are many ways you can stay safe with online shopping. Try using either PayPal or get a bank card with a small amount of money on it that you only use for online shopping.

9. Don't say YES to every Christmas function. As I get older I'm enjoying being home more and more. However, you don't need to be a hermit at Christmas but do you really need to go to every function you've been invited to? Be choosy, go to the ones you really want to go to & politely decline the rest. Same goes with seeing family & friends over the Christmas period. When you think about it most of the Christmas functions are packed into those 3.5 weeks before the big day. That isn't much time for socialising! So instead of having something on every day and night in the lead-up to Christmas why not schedule gatherings with your family & friends post-Christmas or even post-New Year when things have started to settle down a bit? I guarantee you'll enjoy it even more this way! Also, a great way to use up Christmas leftovers!

10. If stress does catch up with you, then like the songs says "let it go"! While you might have all these grandiose plans for Christmas, no one else will know what you've planned. So if things get too much for you, just don't do some of those things on your list. No one will be any the wiser!

Well, I do hope that these tips help keep your Christmas cool and calm. Remember Christmas comes just once a year so enjoy it, don't stress it!

Til next time

Judith x

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