The Christmas season is a time of joy and togetherness.
At least, that’s what we’d like it to be. It’s just shy of one month until Christmas day, and we know the truth is that busy schedules, financial stress, and interpersonal differences can cause difficulties. It’s important to prepare for the festivities to ensure they don’t diminish your health and happiness. Here are some tips to survive this Christmas!
There can be a lot of demands on your time in December: office parties, social catch-ups, family get-togethers, and Christmas shopping – all of which you have to fit around your regular schedule! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of commitments in your diary, ask yourself which events are most important to me and which events would I enjoy most? Say “yes” to these and politely decline the others.
When we talk about self-care, we talk about proactively doing things that safeguard our mental or physical health. The Christmas season can encourage us to push our own needs under the rug for the sake of the greater good, but this can lead to resentment and frustration. Take time out for yourself to do something that will recharge your batteries: take a nap, go out for coffee, go for a walk. The last one can be especially good if your patience is fraying at a get-together: offer to pop out to pick up some milk or similar, and you get some time to yourself while being helpful!
Don’t expect a Christmas miracle. There are some people you clash with all year long, and the spirit of Christmas will not magically transform you into best friends. There’s a lot of pressure to have a picture-perfect, happy-go-lucky holiday celebration, but of course this doesn’t often happen. Try to be accepting of people’s differences and shortcomings – including your own! Try to foresee any predictable difficulties – being mentally prepared makes it easier to endure any challenges that do crop up.
That said, sometimes annoyances can escalate. Before any get-together, decide what your boundaries are. For example, you might be able to politely grimace through your aunt saying something about politics that you disagree with, but that you won’t accept her criticising your partner. Plan how you can respond to this sort of unpleasantness so you don’t explode in the moment. Sometimes, the best response is politely excusing yourself to go to the bathroom rather than coming back with a pointed comment.
Go easy on the gifts
Gift-giving can be a wonderful way of showing our affection for others. It can also be an expensive, stressful, and materialistic obligation. Some great ideas for making gift-giving an enjoyable and affordable experience are:
- Do a Secret Santa/Kris Kringle. They can greatly reduce the stress of spending a lot of money and coming up with great gift ideas for numerous people. This way, everybody receives one thoughtful gift from the whole group.
- Give homemade gifts. Don’t worry if you “aren’t creative”: everybody has a skill they can use to make great, personalised gifts. Do you love music? Make individualised mix CDs for friends and family! Are you a whiz in the kitchen? Make jars of brownie mix as gifts, or whip up some biscuits, toffees, or other treats!
- Give the gift of time. Rather than wrapping presents for each other, you and your friends, family, or partner could agree to do something you all enjoy together. This could be going for a hike, to a concert, or to a nice restaurant.
Make sure you have a buddy to help you through the holiday season. This could be your partner, a sibling, or a friend – someone who knows you well. You can use them as a source of support, whether it’s rolling your eyes together at something your dad’s done, or calling them when you’re feeling vulnerable.