For many people, Christmas can be a stressful time of the year. Much of this festive-stress can be down to unhealthy expectations (both our own, and the expectations of other people). We worry about how people will respond to the gifts we buy them, as well as how to respond if we get something that we hadn’t expected to receive. We worry about whether our family will all be able to get along whilst under one roof, and how to ensure that we don’t burn the Christmas dinner and serve up a Christmas cake with a soggy bottom… So, it makes sense that people can get a little overwhelmed on the build up to Christmas, and stressed out during the event itself.
So, what can you do to make your festive season more relaxed, more bearable, and more enjoyable? Well, here are 10 tips that some of our hypnotherapy clients have found helpful in having a stress-free Christmas!
1. Set your expectations
When it comes to your Christmas guests, you must remember that people aren’t mind readers (not even your close family). So, unless you tell them what you actually want your Christmas experience to be like, they’ll have no way of knowing. As well as your expectations, you might also want to consider the expectations of everyone else that you’ll be spending time with, so that everyone’s expectations can be factored in when Christmas is being planned. This means having a conversation with people in advance of the event, so that you have that information to draw upon later. Some of the main areas to consider here are gifts, food, entertainment, alcohol, and topics of conversation (or topics to be avoided).
2. Plan ahead
After setting expectations, it’s then a great idea to plan and map out your Christmas. Lists and time-scales are really helpful in reducing stress when there’s so much to do and to remember. Consider everything that will need to be done in relation to gifts (choosing, buying, wrapping, storing, giving), food (choosing, buying, storing, cooking, serving, leftovers, and not to mention dessert!), and entertainment (what, where, when and other logistics)!
Being able to keep all of your plans and information in one easy-to-access place will help you to keep your Christmas on track. You might find that getting a special ‘planner’ (or even just a cheap note pad) solely for Christmas planning will be an invaluable investment in reducing your festive stress levels!
3. Be assertive – it’s OK to say no!
Sometimes when planning your Christmas or talking about expectations, people will make suggestions that really do not work for you. Perhaps Aunt Mary says that she’ll cook the turkey and bring it to your house straight from her oven, but you remember that Aunt Mary can cook about as well as Santa can resist mince pies! If you already know that there may be some things you are likely to disagree about, have an alternative suggestion in mind. If you do this, ensure that you ‘frame it’ positively, so that your alternative suggestion is attractive and will provoke less resistance. Also, remember to be honest, because often honesty is the easiest way to avoid conflict. Perhaps Aunt Mary offers to bring the turkey so that you have less stuff to do, and she’s just thinking of your stress levels. In which case, you could let her know that in fact you really enjoy taking care of the cooking process, and would prefer her to come along and spend more time with the family (and maybe suggest she can bring some nibbles for the evening, so she still feels like she is able to contribute).
4. Prep, prep, prep!
Rather than trying to do absolutely everything at the last minute, such as wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve (and potentially running out of wrapping paper, or realising you didn’t buy all the presents that you thought you had), or cooking everything from scratch on the day, instead, get some of it done sooner. Get all your Christmas gifts wrapped and safely stored away in advance. Prep the parts of your Christmas meal that can be prepped in advance (such as peeling and chopping vegetables, and leaving them to sit in water overnight). By taking the time to get things prepped, you’ll have more time to enjoy yourself and spend time with your loved ones on Christmas Day.
5. Teamwork makes the dream work
If possible, start delegating tasks to other people. If you need something from the supermarket but you’re busy wrapping gifts, ask someone to grab what you need. Many hands make light work. If you have kids, you might make a little ‘task list’ for them to do on the run up to Christmas, with some small things that you would have done yourself. Also, you can give them small tasks on the day, like tidying wrapping paper or handing out snacks, kids often love to feel helpful, so if they’re willing, put them to work!
Remember, Christmas is a time for family and friendship, so allow your family and friends to help you have a more relaxed festive season. Get your Christmas A-Team together and let them help you work towards a fab Christmas!
6. Avoid Christmas conflict
Sometimes people just don’t get on well. If you know that some of your guests don’t play well together, having them ‘penned up’ in a single room for an entire day generally isn’t going to work out great. So, think of some ways to break things up a little. Perhaps you could go out for a walk in the afternoon, giving people a chance to mix it up and have conversations with other people. Maybe get people to switch seats randomly throughout the day, changing conversation partners. You might even give some of your guests tasks, such as making drinks, helping in the kitchen or watching the kids, in order to avoid potential conflict. Also, it can be worth talking to any people that you think might have issues beforehand, and letting them know about your expectations (tip 1) and how you’d like Christmas to go!
7. Remember, it’s your Christmas too!
If you’re hosting or arranging a Christmas gathering, you can often miss out on having your own Christmas experience. Remember that as well as making sure everyone else has a great time, you need to make time for yourself too. When planning your day, set out some chunks of time where you are able to sit down and talk with everyone, take part in the gifting process, relax and watch some festive TV for a while, play with the kids, or whatever it is that you’d really enjoy doing during your Christmas day.
8. Make time for your non-festive pleasures
If, for the rest of the year, you normally do something to de-stress, such as reading, playing games, watching TV, or anything else, just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you should stop doing those things. In fact, it may be even more beneficial to have a little ‘me time’ during the festive season, as you’re spending lots of time considering the wants and needs of others. The things that we do each day, we often do for a good reason, to calm and relax us, so ensure that you keep to your daily rituals in order to help you feel good.
9. Aim for a Christmas that’s ‘good enough’
As you know, most things in life don’t go 100% to plan. With Christmas, so long as it’s ‘good enough’, that’s good enough! If Christmas isn’t perfect, that doesn’t mean it’s a disaster, it just means it’s not ‘perfect’. So, when you look at your Christmas plan and tasks, mark your tasks in terms of low, medium and high priority. Get the high priority things done first, then the medium, and finally you can work through the lower priority tasks, because if those ones don’t get done then it’s not the end of the world. Think of it like a hypnotherapist seeing a client. The client doesn’t know what the hypnotherapist intends to do during a session, so if the therapist leaves out a technique or changes their approach a little during the session, it’s still likely to be a great hypnotherapy session for the client, regardless of what the hypnotherapist thinks about said deviations from ‘the plan’. It’s called ‘good enough’ for a reason!
10. Finally, have fun!
Christmas is meant to be a time for friendship, family and fun. Make sure to have fun, and spend your time wisely. Be mindful and in the moment, enjoying the company of your relatives and the people that you care for, and make sure that they enjoy your company, as well as your fantastic Christmas planning skills. Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself, and to ditch those little tasks that aren’t really that important, especially if you could be doing something fun with your loved ones instead.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these ‘10 tips for a stress-free Christmas‘, and from all of us here at Hypnosis-Courses.com, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and we hope this blog will help you to truly savour your festive season this year. If you have any questions about this topic or anything else for that matter, do please get in touch, because we’re always happy to help!
…now where are those mince pies…
– written by Rory Z Fulcher