How to keep calm over Christmas

Susannah Hickling

Make sure your Christmas is merry, not miserable, by cultivating a new tradition of tranquillity

Let go of festive fairytales

We all need to understand that there’s no such thing as the perfect Christmas. Family disputes, lost loved ones or changed plans can all wreck your fantasies. It’s important to know how to let go and understand that you can’t control Christmas. It’s better to be realistic and search for the magical moments even amid the festive chaos.

 

Prioritise pleasure

Often our happiest memories of Christmas are made of the simple things—enjoying a meal with your family, sitting by the fireside, playing board games. So why not sit down and consider what it is you really love about the festive season and aim to put the simple pleasures at the heart of your plans?

 

Sort out your schedule

Jot down what you absolutely have to do and plan when you’re going to do those things. That will help ensure you don’t overcommit. If other things come up that don’t fit in with those priorities, then feel free to just say no. It’s important to understand that we can’t—and don’t have to—do it all.

 

Plan for "me" time

While creating that Christmas schedule, make room for quality time by yourself. It could be a soothing bath or a cycle ride or catching up on a box set. That will help you feel as if you’re in control of your life and not being overtaken by events.

 

Ask for help

When you’re planning a party or Christmas dinner, ask guests to bring a contribution, such as a dessert or a centre piece for the table. That will ease the stress of catering for a crowd.

 

Make gifts mean something

It's so stressful making multiple trips to the shops, seeing the credit rack up and your bank balance plummet. Consider holding a “Secret Santa” event so that everyone just buys one substantial gift for a member of the family or group of friends. Or consider an experience—if you’re a grandparent, how about filling 12 envelopes with a slip of paper with an outing written on each and giving it to the grandchildren? The activities might be a trip to the zoo, a picnic in the park, beachcombing at the seaside. It’s also a way of creating lasting memories.

 

Plan meals, then forget about them

Obviously, we don’t mean you should neglect to feed people! But you can make your life a lot easier by preparing dishes that can be left alone in the oven or slow cooker rather than those that you have to attend to all the time. This allows you to spend more time with your guests and actually enjoy the party.

 

Share the love into next year

When you see your diary filling up with social events in the run-up to Christmas, consider pushing some of them into January. It will take the stress out of the holiday season and give you some catch-ups to look forward to in the New Year.


Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter