December is a month often completely preoccupied by all things to do with Christmas; where there are often too many things to do in too little time. Forward planning can make a significant difference to those panic-stricken periods of stress.
Let's look at ways in which a little preparation can help to make a stress free Christmas;
- Christmas present shopping does not need to be a stressful occasion. Agree in advance amongst yourselves who you're buying for or decide Christmas Show Recording on a price limit per gift. Some families agree on a £5 limit or have a lucky dip where each person selects one gift. Novelty, imagination and humour can make the day great fun.
- Take time to write a list of names you're buying for, suggestions of ideas for gifts and an estimate of what you're prepared to spend. Maybe even note what you bought them last year to avoid duplication. Then simply tick off items as you buy them.
- Gift wrapping is provided by several shops and can avoid the last-minute stress of running out of paper, Sellotape or gift tags.
- Some families and friends agree to restrict present giving to younger children. There's no real benefit in exchanging gift vouchers or shower gel amongst adults. Why not instead spend the money enjoying each other's company. Have a festive meal out or go to a Christmas show together.
- Schedule some quality 'me' time during the festive period; plan for a relaxing bath, allow time to read a book, book some of the things that appeal to you, be sure to join in the fun. Record your Christmas TV so that you're able to watch it later.
- Christmas parties can be stressful occasions, especially when connected with work. It's often important to show willing and attend but if remaining professional is important to you perhaps minimise stress by deciding not to drink; say you're driving or have an important trip the next day. If you do drink alcohol ensure you drink slower than your colleagues or alternate alcohol with soft drinks.
- Christmas Day itself can benefit from planning ahead. Ask for help. Delegate tasks like setting the table, washing-up or preparing vegetables. Buy some ready prepared dishes if that helps; adding your own touches will ensure that no one will be able to tell.
- Over the holiday period organise some menus in advance, with days of ordinary meals like hot-pot or casserole. Have indoor board games at the ready, timetables for Church services, details of interesting walks. Don't forget to have a stocked first aid kit available with which to treat accidents or over-indulgence.
- Arrange something to look forward to in January. Post Christmas and New Year can be a little gloomy, with cold dark nights, little spare money and nothing enjoyable planned in the diary. Prepare ahead for a special evening, even if it's at home, where everyone dresses up and makes an effort. It can give the Post Christmas Show Recordingblues a real lift.
Good humour, a sense of perspective and communicating with each other can ensure that the Spirit of Christmas remains alive. After all, most people simply want to spend a pleasant time with loved ones, making the most of each other's company. Preparation and planning can help to support that happening successfully.
Susan Leigh is a long established counsellor and hypnotherapist who works with clients to help with relationship conflict, stress, assertiveness and confidence issues. She works with individual clients, couples and in corporate situations.