Christmas is meant to be the season of peace and goodwill, a time to relax, have fun and spend some quality time with the people you care most about.

Yet for many the Christmas period is a time of increased expectation, more expense and additional demands on their limited time. Rather than ‘happy holidays’ it becomes ‘hellish holidays’ wrapped in stress and frustration.

What is there to stress about?

Or some might ask, what isn’t there to stress about!

There are presents to buy (making sure you get the right thing for the right people), more food and drink to get in, cards to write, places to go, decisions over where to spend the big day…and who with, crowds to fight, money to find and it all has to be done on time!! more stress!!

And of course we tend to eat less healthily, drink more and do less exercise – all of which can make us very grumpy indeed!

It may have all become far removed from those Christmas times you look back on when all you had to do was have fun, get excited and the biggest challenge was whether you could get to sleep on Christmas Eve.

How to manage Christmas Stress

1. Whatever you’ve got to do – start NOW!

Just about everyone has something they need to get done, and the sooner you get started the easier it all gets (that’s a bit obvious really but how many people leave everything until the last minute…?).

Start thinking through what you need to do and make a note so you know you’ll remember. Then even if you only did the smallest thing on your list every day, you’d soon find you were making progress.

2. Budget

Know in advance how much to plan to spend on gifts, food, going out etc. Then only buy what you need and what you can afford. The last thing you want going through your mind on Christmas Day is the thought that you’ve massively overspent and the anxiety of knowing that next credit card statement is only days away.

3. Look after your health

How many times have you tried to stay healthy all year then ‘forgotten’ all about your health during the Christmas period?

It’s easy to start eating and drinking more and exercising less so make sure you give some thought to how you want to feel through Christmas and into the New Year.

Too many treats, too much alcohol and not enough exercise also contribute to how we feel and make it harder for us to calmly handle whatever comes our way.

So make sure you drink enough water, include healthy foods in your diet and get out for a few walks in the fresh air.

4. Have fun!

Rather than focusing on any parts of the season that stress you out, focus on those things you’ll be enjoying – whether it’s socialising, seeing the lights, watching the Christmas specials on TV or going to Santa’s Grotto…

Make sure you build in time to do the things you enjoy and remember, most of the stuff we think of as big stuff is really just little stuff that we are turning into big stuff. So remember – most of those things that you thought bothered and stressed you, probably won’t even matter in a week’s time.

Stress relax hypnotherapy

5. Relax…and sleep

Remember to do simple things that help you relax – using 7/11 breathing is a simple way to start feeling a bit calmer.

And get enough sleep – it can be easy to get drawn into going out or staying up watching something on TV. Make sure you get enough sleep so you feel better and have the energy for the next day (because I know you get grumpy when you’re tired….!!).

There comes a point where all the shops are shut and it’s just too late to do anything else in preparation for the day itself. So accept that there is nothing else you can do...and now relax.

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapist & Coach

Hypnotherapy Ely, Cambridge, Newmarket