Christmas: Unwrapping The Stresses Of This ‘Wonderful’ Time Of The Year

christmas gifts

Christmas: the most wonderful time of the year. At least that’s how the festive song portrays it. A time for family, renewed friendships, gift giving, good food, and all manner of Christmas cheer. Tis the season to be jolly indeed. 

On the other hand, Christmas is the most stressful time of the year. The busyness, the endless stream of festive visitors, the strain on your bank balance, and all manner of Christmas fears. Bah humbug indeed.

What is Christmas like for you? Does it resemble the perfect image prevalent in so many of our Christmas movies? Sitting around the log fire, roasting chestnuts and drinking mulled wine with your family. Or is it a nightmare of epic proportions, one you can’t wait to be over, standing arm in arm with the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge in your distaste for the season? If you are veering more towards the latter, we would like to bring back some Christmas cheer into your life by unwrapping some of the reasons why many people find the season so stressful. Hey, even Scrooge and the Grinch found their Christmas spirit again, so you can too.

Expectation

We painted the perfect Christmas picture above, but let’s be honest. Christmas will very rarely be perfect. Watch Chevy Chase in the Christmas Vacation Movie, and you will understand why. All manner of things can go wrong, from the turkey burning to a crisp in the oven to your festive lights causing a citywide blackout. Yet we place too much expectation on ourselves over the season, forcing ourselves to be happy, and spending time with people that we would otherwise avoid the rest of the year. Gift giving can be problematic if you don’t have the cash, and forcing yourself to eat all that turkey and chocolate is worrisome if you’re on a diet.

Our advice is this: Don’t do anything over Christmas you really don’t want to do. Yes, there has to be some compromise, and you probably should make an effort to spend time with people you rarely see. However, if something is guaranteed to cause you misery, socially or financially, don’t feel you have to conform. Then forget about putting the pressure on yourself to make the ‘perfect’ Christmas happen, as you will only burn yourself out. Go with the flow, do what you can to make things happy for you and your family, but if anything goes wrong…so what! Christmas is only a few days during the year, so don’t sweat it if everything is not as perfect as you imagine it should be.

Christmas shopping

christmas shopping

There is so much to buy. Food, presents, decorations, the tree, the headache tablets…the list is near endless. Stress doesn’t only come from the money you will be spending, either. There’s the congested traffic as you try and get into town, the lack of parking spaces, the queues of people standing in line at the store, and the winter cold that is liable to give you frostbite as you manage the stack of bags you are having to carry as you wander around town. It’s even worse when one bag bursts and your brussel sprouts roll down the road, never to be seen again (much to your children’s relief).

You will have heard this advice before. Start shopping early, before the throngs of shoppers and the snap of the winter chill. You will save yourself a lot of time and trouble. Of course, at time of writing, it’s only three weeks until Christmas, so you can forget early shopping now. Still, when the chaos of Christmas ends, you can still prepare for next year, and you will save yourself some money too. Festive decorations and the like are sold at a reduced price at the start of the new year, and you can take advantage of the sales for next year’s presents. We also recommend you take out some of the stress by shopping online. From food to presents, there are hundreds of websites where you can get what you need at the click of a button. If you don’t want to join the throngs of impatient Christmas shoppers in town, internet shopping makes perfect sense.

Gift giving and receiving

heart gift

If anything is bound to cause you stress, it’s the giving and receiving of gifts. This shouldn’t be the case, but let’s take a reality check again. For starters, there will be people in your life who are hard to buy for, such as distant relatives, people who seem to have everything, and those folks who are prone to complain, no matter what you buy them. Then there’s the receiving of gifts. This should be pleasurable for you, but how many times have you had to practice your grateful face, despite the disappointment that you have been given something dull or inappropriate.

When it comes to gift giving, think outside of the box. If you don’t know the person very well, a gift voucher will always suffice. The same applies to those people who grumble about their gift, either to your face or behind your back. For those people who seem to have everything, it is still possible to buy something unique, while being appropriate to them as well. From custom air force coins for anybody in your family with a military background to personalised family portraits that are an alternative to a generic Christmas photo, you can buy something thoughtful, and without breaking your bank. When it comes to receiving gifts, be sure to drop subtle hints in the lead up to the season. Don’t want another festive jumper? Do what the kids do and let people know what it is you do want.

Visiting relatives

We should love our family unconditionally, right? Of course, but there are probably people in your family who you don’t get on with. Even those you do love dearly can be a strain if they are staying at your home for an extended period. Short of locking your doors and hiding from them when they arrive at your home, what are you to do?

You could escape your relatives by going away on holiday over Christmas. Many people do it, so you could join the masses. Of course, you might want to keep your destination a secret just in case your relatives decide to join you. Alternatively, you could visit your relatives instead of the other way round. This way, you can leave when you want, other than waiting for your relatives to leave the house when they set up camp in your living room. If you do have relatives (or any other visitors) staying with you, make sure you still set aside some time for yourself. They can get on top of you, literally and metaphorically, so make the occasional excuse to get away to give yourself a breather. Read our guide to holiday houseguests for further advice.

Finally

We hope you have a wonderful and stress-free Christmas. It is possible, and we hope our advice helped a little. Remember though, it is only a few days of the year, so if all does go pear-shaped, you only have to endure the holidays a little while longer.

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