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Tips to change festive pressure into pleasure

Juggling the needs of family, friends and work can come to a head during the festive season, especially if you‘re the sort of person that wants everyone to have a wonderful time. Trying to meet the needs of older family as well as the young can be daunting. Dr Mariette Jansen offers a few tips to lower the stress levels and treat ourselves to a little bit of calm.

The holiday season is pretty well unavoidable – but the frenzy around it is!

December is the month of socialising, making others happy and experiencing peace. However, for many people it seems that the holidays feel more like pressure than pleasure.

That is a shame – but it is easy to change that around.

Stress in itself doesn’t exist. It’s created by us, and we have the choice – create or not!

As with all these statements, it’s easier said than done, but if you prepare well, you win half the battle. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, as Benjamin Franklin put it.

One of the reasons for the Christmas stress is the extra workload. Especially if you are taking care of other people and their plans, it easily becomes a mountain of workload.

Be less than perfect

As the one carrying most of the responsibility, it is key that you set boundaries and be clear about standards. If someone else wants to have the perfect dinner, but has to rely on you to create it, they might have to settle for less than perfect.

It’s the same for presents. If you have to do the hunting and have already spend a lot of time but not got the results, it’s tough but the presents won’t be perfect.

Negotiate and work together

It’s very difficult to not take on somebody else’s standards, especially if you want to please them and show that you respect them and their ideas. However, if that is going to be achieved over your own views though, it creates an unbalanced situation.

The way to deal with it is to “negotiate” upfront. If you are going to manage someone else’s preparations, such as their gift shopping, sit down and discuss what the other party would like. Then allocate the time and resources that you both agree on as reasonable. Take that as your guideline and do what you can within the agreement.

Set priorities

It’s more than likely that you will need more time and resources than are available, so you’ll have to make choices together. What is a priority, what is less important? As a result, you will feel more in control; you prevent yourself from overdoing it in your quest to do it “right” and most likely, you are more appreciated as it’s very clear how much effort you are putting in.

If you can prepare yourself and the people you care for, in this manner, I am convinced your holiday preparations will be less manic and more fun!

A few more tips for a stress-free celebration

  • Write ideas, instructions and even comments in a notebook
  • Use To-Do lists every day
  • Consider your main concerns and whether you can actually do anything about them. If not, let them go
  • Do something nice for you every day
  • Share the load with family whenever you can
  • Get out in the fresh air

Dr Mariette Jansen (Dr De-Stress) is a life coach in Surrey. You can read Mariette’s full list of top tips for a stress-free run up to Christmas on her website. Click here to access the full list.

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