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Christmas: How to reduce stress, stay organised, and enjoy the festive season

This page created 6th December 2014


By Kate and Terri (ADAVIC Volunteers)




Many lifestyle commentators and wellbeing experts suggest that the Christmas period can be a major contributor to an individual’s stress levels. For some of us, the festive season is characterised only by good food, lovely gifts and a chance to spend quality time with loved ones. For the majority of others, however, Christmas can heighten stress, make us feel pressured or burdened with responsibilities and expectations and leave us feeling overwhelmed and disorganised. The following will note some of the major stressors during this time of year and explore helpful ways to work through these and make Christmas that little bit more enjoyable.

Getting Organised

First and foremost, the more proactive you are in your organisation and planning, the less stressful the main event will be. There are so many details, people, gifts, and budgets that need to be considered during the festive season, so working out what these are, how much of your time and money are required and utilising ideas that will make your life easier, will not only help keep you on top of everything but also give you a sense of control and peace of mind. Given that during this time, stress is as easily spread as Christmas cheer, some creative and ingenious types have done the hard work for us. We have managed to find some nifty organiser options which we feel can help you keep those long naughty and nice lists in check and make sure no one or nothing is forgotten. Firstly, the ever gorgeous Swedish home office design brand, Kikki K, brings out a ‘Christmas Planner’ every year.

“Stay organised in the lead up to Christmas to ensure you enjoy a calm and wonderful festive season. This handy Organiser Book will help you keep track of your budget, gift ideas, meal planning and more.”

This handy, simple, efficient and easy on the eye organiser can be picked up from any Kikki K store, or purchased online. Check it out at http://www.kikki-k.com/christmas-organiser-book-2014. For those of you who are inspired by a little DIY, the following website (http://christmasplanner.com/) guides you to create your very own, personalised Christmas organiser. You can watch clever how-to tutorials, get inspiration and tailor it to your specific Christmas needs. We understand not everyone will have the time to do this, but sometimes getting creative can lead to a huge sense of accomplishment in itself.  In addition, the website (http://christmasplanner.com/print-christmas-planner) provides free printable gift lists, menu planners, planning pages and calendars from the internet for you to quickly and easily get organised!

Budgeting for Christmas

As nice as it would be for a jolly Santa Claus and his magical elves to work tirelessly all year round crafting presents to be delivered down our chimneys, the reality is that we often have a number of gifts to buy and wrap, meals to prepare and halls to deck, and this costs money. Christmas doesn’t have to be a financial headache if you plan ahead. There are a number of strategies that you can easily employ to help reduce spending related stress. Firstly, work out a rough Christmas budget as early as possible, and don’t forget the hidden expenses like overseas telephone calls and Christmas cards. Next, work out how much disposable income you have between now and Christmas. Remember, if you start early, a certain percentage of this can be dedicated each week, fortnight or month to covering Christmas expenses, leaving you with a sizable nest egg by the time the sleigh bells start ringing. It is also extremely important to be realistic about your Christmas budget and spending, so if things start getting out of hand, reassess where your budget is being spent. Finally, if you have trouble keeping your hands off your hard-earned Christmas nest egg, consider opening a bank account or starting a piggy bank specifically for the cause.

Every year it is easy to be caught off guard with the cost of present buying, so you may be able to reduce the stress and cost of Christmas for everyone if you suggest a change in the way your family and friends give presents. Some suggestions are to only buy presents for children, organise a Kris Kringle or set a limit on the cost of presents for each person.

Christmas Shopping

To most of us, Christmas shopping means crowds, never-ending queues and long days, and that’s before the credit card bill! The facts are simple, around 60% of Australians dislike Christmas shopping, only 20% actually plan their shopping expeditions and the majority of us, nearly 75%, often come home without a single purchase for our efforts (www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au). Some easy ways to help reduce stress when it comes to Christmas shopping are to make a list of all the gifts you wish to buy before you go shopping (and make good use of that Christmas organiser!), make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for to avoid doubling up, buy a few extra little gifts, such as chocolate, shortbread or bottles of wine for unexpected guests bearing gifts and if possible, do your Christmas shopping early to avoid those crowds. Finally, if you prefer, purchase your gifts by mail catalogue or over the internet – some companies will even do the gift wrapping for you!

The Christmas Meal

Preparing a meal for family and friends can be enjoyable but tiring and taxing at the same time. In order to reduce the stress involved in cooking, preparation and hosting of the Christmas meal, try these handy hints: Don’t be afraid to delegate – many hands make light work! Always simplify things where possible – perhaps everyone could bring a platter, several food items can be prepared in advance, cold salads and desserts mean less pressure on timing etc. Make further use of your Christmas organiser by planning meals and writing shopping lists well in advance; we all know the state of the supermarket on Christmas Eve! Lastly, similarly to gift buying, consider purchasing your food shopping online and the store will deliver your groceries straight to your door.

Relationships

Unfortunately, this time of year can mean that our stress, anxiety and depression can be heightened, and if nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. Some tips for alleviating these experiences include to remain realistic about potential tension at Christmas gatherings, avoid known triggers that lead to arguments, worry and conflict and use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or focusing your breath to cope with anxiety or tension. It is also important to be mindful that people who are under stress can self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes and other substances so keep an eye out for one another and try to remember that drugs cannot solve problems or alleviate stress in the long term.

If Christmas just isn’t your thing or you are looking for further things to do, keep in mind that there are plenty of other entertaining and relaxing activities to participate in during this time of year. For some great examples and inspiration, have a read through “Fake Snow and Real Sun Fun”, featured in this publication.

Whatever you have planned, whatever the season means to you, may the end of 2014 be happy, healthy and full of cheer!


Kate and Terri

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