If you hadn’t already noticed, Christmas is nearly here. Whether it’s your favourite time of the year, or you dread it, there is no denying that Christmas can be busy, expensive and stressful. Here are our top 5 tips to help you cope.
1. Don’t try to do everything
It’s tempting to think that we need to get everything right to have the “perfect Christmas”. But no matter what we do, it probably won’t snow on the exact day we want it to, the turkey will take a little longer to cook than planned, and you’ll never have enough room for the recycling. Aim instead for “good enough”, not “perfect”. What would make your Christmas a happy, not stressful one?
For a lot of us Christmas ends up being a rush of shopping, visiting and cooking. Try pacing what you need to do, rather than trying to squeeze everything in all at once. This is especially important if you have been unwell, or have a long-term condition. Set yourself small tasks each day and rest in between them. That way, if a winter bug or bad weather gets in the way, it’s easy to reschedule one thing rather than panic you’ve got nothing done.
Routine is the first thing that goes out of the window once December hits. A little bit of going out lots, eating whatever we want and taking time out of work can be a good thing. However a lot of people find they struggle when their day-to-day activities go out the window, with our sleep and mood particularly affected. Try to stick to a schedule as much as possible, even if that’s planning a film on TV for after you’ve wrapped the presents. If you’re a regular exerciser but can’t fit in the gym at this time of year, even a brisk 10 minute walk can make us feel like we’ve blown the cobwebs away. Routine is especially important to sleep, so try to stick to the same going to bed and waking up times – that way it will be easier to return to normal in the new year.
For many people, making the budget stretch is the most-anxiety provoking part of Christmas. There is a lot of free advice available, and you should never have to pay for advice on how to manage your debts. www.citizensadvice.org.uk have a range of information that could help you, and www.moneysavingexpert.com has online information that could help put your mind at ease.
5. Need support
The above tips focus on the idea of a busy Christmas surrounded by people, but for many that isn’t the case. Christmas can be a hard time of year for many reasons: Bereavement, ongoing mental health issues and loneliness all play a part. If you are not looking forward to the festivities, and are worried about how you’ll cope, there is support available.
The Jo Cox Loneliness commission published research last week that stated lowliness is as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Our mental wellbeing is affected greatly by our social contact with others. The website https://www.jocoxloneliness.org/ describes how you can help and become involved with others.
For those coping with a bereavement at Christmas time, Cruse Bereavement Centre have advice and support available - https://www.cruse.org.uk/about-grief/christmas
If you need someone to talk to, Silverline offer a free 24 hour support line for Older Adults: call 0800 4 70 80 90, or for more information see their website at https://www.thesilverline.org.uk/
The Samaritans are also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will speak to anyone, whether they are feeling suicidal or are low and want to talk. They can be contacted for free on 116 123.
Whatever type of holiday period you are planning, we hope you have a good time, and a Happy New Year.