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  • Writer's picturetherapyforlondoners

How to Manage Stress During Christmas

Updated: Mar 15

Christmas is coming and on paper, it should be a wonderful and joyous time of year. Time to slow down and recharge. Eating good food. Giving and receiving gifts. Spending time with your loved ones. And Christmas cheer and goodwill everywhere.

But it doesn’t always make for the most wonderful time of the year (and the song lyrics can feel very ironic).

In this blog, I’m sharing a few tips for how to manage Christmas stress and make this Christmas a time of joy and calm - not stress and pressure!

  • Why is Christmas stressful?

  • How to change your perspective of Christmas

  • How to self-care during Christmas

  • How to gift others calm and confidence

  • How to handle Pets and stress during Christmas

What Makes Christmas Stressful?

According to research from YouGov, at least a quarter of us find Christmas the most challenging part of the year, often to the point that it affects mental health.

While many of us love Christmas, it can bring a lot of stress for many different reasons.

It's almost the end of the year and 2023 is almost here, end-of-year pressure is huge too. We can look back on the year and feel that we need to up our game next year (even if that’s not true).

Your workload may not decrease at Christmas - it can increase if anything. The kids are off school, the family may be off work and the home won’t run itself. That’s on top of the added pressures of Christmas cooking, buying gifts, and trying not to break the bank.

For some of us, being around extended family can be anything but joyful. The holidays can stir up tension and trauma from past experiences and unresolved hurt. The traditional image of the happy family gathered around Christmas dinner can be optimistic and a source of conflict at worst. This is one part of Christmas that can bring a perceived loss of control as it’s so hard to predict how people will react.

And then there is overspending and debt that many of us get into on our quest for the “perfect” Christmas. According to the Bank of England, the average household spends an extra 29% more at Christmas than they would in a typical month and much of it becomes debt.

Is it any wonder we often experience panic attacks in the run-up to Christmas?

There is a lot that is out of our hands at this time of year, but we can control our response to stress and our attitude.

How to change your perspective of Christmas

Christmas can be a magical time to spend with the people we love. When you view Christmas in this way, there is far less pressure to spend lots of money. Focus on making memories together instead. Surrender your expectations of how it should be and the need to be in control of every part of Christmas. This can help you let go of the “what if?” scenarios in your mind.

Last Christmas was a very different one for me. I spent it confined to bed and a wheelchair after an accident injured my leg. Tired, frustrated, and in pain, I finally forced myself to watch The Grinch (after avoiding it for years) in a bid to regain some Christmas spirit. It taught me a lot, namely that the food, decorations, presents, and planning aren’t what really matters at Christmas. You can read more about how I learned the true meaning of Christmas in this blog post.

This year, I’m able to get around and visit Christmas markets, which feels like the biggest gift. I’m looking forward to a truly relaxing time where I can slow down and appreciate what I have. I hope you can do the same and take the chance to slow down and recharge for January. A brand new year awaits us and that can be exciting, not stressful.