Ho-ho-how to survive Christmas stress-free

Psychologist, author and coach Susie Pearl helps us navigate the festive period without the usual stress-inducing pitfalls

Christmas can be a difficult time for many people. It’s often a time when they feel overwhelmed, lonely and down that things have not changed for the better.

It’s a time when we are thrown together with family and relatives which may be triggering and difficult.

We often find ourselves staying with others and having to deal with new routines and other people’s agendas.

But here are my top tips to help…

Get some boundaries in 

Be clear with those around you what the policy is with cards, gifts and presents.

Don’t get yourself into financial trouble by spending too much because that’s what happens at Christmas.

Get clear on your personal boundaries and how you want to handle the festive time and tell people if you don’t want to do gift swaps or cards. It’s simple to say you are not doing it this year.

Stop working and have a break

Make it clear when you want to sign off for the Christmas break and ask your colleagues to respect the holiday period and that you won’t be answering calls or emails while you are off for the Christmas period.

Family first

Learn how to put your family first and show up for them by being present and off mobiles and laptops.

Tell people you work with or colleagues that you are on holiday for certain dates and explain when you are contactable again.

Give yourself the gift of freedom from work during Christmas time. It is the only time of year when you can truly switch off and hide under the duvet.

The rest of the world is also taking time out at the same time so you can really use this as a time to kick back, relax and unwind.

Phone off

Do yourself and your family a favour by switching off your phone.

Switch it on for an hour each day if you really must stay in touch with the outside world and use this to clear anything urgent from friends and family.

Put on a responder to emails saying you’ll be available from a certain date in the New Year.

Self-care plan

Make yourself a self-care programme for the holidays and stick to it.

Have time for making food, resting, walking, exercise, fun, socialising, giving to someone in your community.

Include a tech-free period for as long as you can.

  • Learn how to meditate and start doing it over Christmas, use an app such as Calm or Headspace, and get yourself a routine around self-care and meditation.
  • Get out into the fresh air and plan daily walks in nature. Take a friend and plan the times, so that you do it.
  • Make a food plan of healthy meals you can create for each day. Plan in what exercise you can do.
  • Switch off the news and instead watch things that are uplifting. Happy holiday movies fit the bill nicely.
  • Stay away from emails until the New Year. Set up a separate email address to your work one if necessary where friends can reach you.
  • Put yourself first during your holidays and you will return in the New Year full of energy, ideas and a fresh perspective.

Enjoy the holidays! 

Avoid those people you find toxic or energy draining. Try to avoid being around these kinds of people.

Choose those who make you feel good, make you laugh or pull you up.

Get a good mindset

Mindset is everything in feeling happy and enjoying yourself.

Avoid negative storytelling and downbeat chit chat, switch off the news, turn up the music, have a dance, move your body.

If people start talking about depressing subjects, ask them to move on to something more upbeat.

Having a more positive outlook will make you feel better and make those around you feel better and more uplifted.

Be kind to others around you

Be nice to people this time of year. A lot of people are suffering, feeling sad, missing loved ones, feeling lonely.

Offer to give help to a neighbour or someone in need you know. Offering help is the fastest way to feel better yourself. Have a clear out at home and donate your unwanted stuff to a charity.

Susie Pearl’s latest book, The Art of Creativity: 7 Powerful Habits To Unlock Your Full Potential is available in hardback, audio and e-book and available from book sellers including Waterstones and Amazon UK.

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