Yes, I’m talking about Christmas! The reason I’ve mentioned Christmas is because I want to talk about the huge amount of pressure that we feel around Christmas time. This can have such an impact on our mental health so I’m talking about how to avoid stress at Christmas time.
Every single year I stress about Christmas and everything that goes with it. But this year I want to actually relax and enjoy the build-up and not just the day itself. In this post, I’m going to talk about all the things that make Christmas stressful and ways that I think may help just a little bit.
1. Buying The Perfect Gifts
This is such a major one for me. I absolutely detest Christmas shopping. I just never have any idea what on Earth to buy people! My mind goes completely blank and it’s like I don’t even know the person that I’m buying for. I find it all terribly stressful.
So, I ask for help. Each year I go Christmas shopping with my elder sister Laura and then with my Mother-in-law, Marion. It’s not passing the buck or being lazy. I need help, so I ask for it. It makes everything so much easier and less stressful.
So, if you’re like me and find Christmas shopping stressful, just ask for help and see if a family member will go shopping with you. Or just outright ask what people want. Ask them to write a list of 5 or so things and pick one or two to buy. That way, it’s still a bit of surprise as to what they actually get. Better doing that than wasting money and getting rubbish that they’ll never use, right?
2. Christmas Cards
I have such an issue with Christmas cards – I just don’t get the point of them! I spend about 4 hours in Card Factory/Warehouse absolutely sweating my tits off (I’m sure the heating is set to full blast furnace in there all year), with Darren moaning that he doesn’t want to be in there all day, fighting our way through all of the other angry Christmas shoppers, trying to find cards for every single member of the family and spend a fortune!!! They then sit on a shelf or get hung up for a few weeks, then they just get put in the bin. What is the actual point????? But my family like to give and receive Christmas cards so I have no choice.
BUT, who says that they all have to have individual cards? If you don’t want to buy individual cards, don’t! Buy a pretty pack of cards and give them out to your family. Or, if you have the materials at home, make them. How lovely is a handmade card? At the end of the day, it’s only a card. What does it even matter?
3. Seeing The Family
Me and Darren have a nice little routine in place where one year we spend Christmas Day with my family, and Boxing Day with his family then the next year, we swap over. Everybody knows where they stand then.
Don’t feel like you have to rush around and fit everybody in in one day. That’s not fun for anyone if you’re constantly rushing around. Is anyone able to come to your house? Can you see them on Boxing Day or the day after? Or what about Christmas Eve? Don’t be afraid to ask the question, or even just tell them what your plans are.
While on the subject of seeing family, when you have everyone all together in one house all day, arguments are likely to happen. Everyone feels like they must have the most amazing day ever, its Christmas, you can’t be sad, blah, blah, blah. Relax, and just try and enjoy the day, don’t force it.
If you are suffering with your mental health don’t feel like you have to see certain family members if you don’t want to. Your health is so important. Why put that on hold for Christmas Day?
4. Christmas Food
How much did you used to hate it as a kid (yes and an adult as well!) when you would go to the fridge or cupboard and ask if you can eat <insert amazing food here> only to be told, no its for Christmas Day. Gahhhh!
With my side of the family, we each take it turns to host Christmas but nobody ever turns up empty-handed. Mum and dad will always do the meat, Laura will normally do the potatoes and me and Daz cover the veg. And we all bring approximately 10 tonnes of snacks.
If you’re hosting Christmas Day, don’t be afraid to ask people to help out with the food. Delegate what you want them to bring. And definitely ask for help cooking. Get people to help peeling, chopping, roasting, steaming, washing up, making drinks. Many hands make light work. It’s your Christmas Day too, don’t forget that!
5. Money, Money, Money
Then there’s the money side of things. Without fail, every year, once I have managed to buy gifts I then panic and worry that I’ve bought crap and that the recipient is going to think that I’ve put no effort into their gift. So I end up spending more money and buying more gifts that I can’t afford.
Well, I can’t do that this year. As I’m no longer working I have imposed a £10 gift limit and I’m going to stick to it. Except for my parents and Darren’s parents, they obviously get a bit more.
Every single year people go into debt spending at Christmas and there is just no need for it. If you are struggling financially, just tell your family that you can’t afford to go mad this year! Pick your budget and don’t feel bad about sticking to it. As my Mother-in-law has shown me, you can actually get a lot for £10! Another option is, if your family are up for it, see if they want to do a secret Santa. Everyone still gets a gift, and you don’t spend a fortune.
If you struggle to afford Christmas each year, perhaps look into bank accounts, where you are only able to make one withdrawal and put £20 a month in, starting in January. By December rolls around, you’ll have £220. Or possibly a gift card. Maybe put the money onto your local shopping centres gift cards, then when you go Christmas shopping, you’ll have the money already there on the card. Just make sure that there isn’t some type of term or condition on there where the money starts reducing for each month the card isn’t used or whatever. Been caught out by that before!
Christmas Day should be a fun, happy time, spent with the people that you love. Please, do not put so much pressure on yourself to make the day ‘perfect’.