A coffee surrounded by holly

Reducing Stress During the Festive Season

It is not unusual to feel stress during the festive season (aka the “silly season”). Around this time of the year we tend to feel pressure:

  1. Often work and uni/school have end of year deadlines
  2. December has more obligatory commitments than any other month
  3. Christmas and new year celebrations are expensive
  4. The traffic is shocking!!
  5. Everyone around you is stressed, tense and struggling to keep their cool

Ironically, such stress takes away from the supposed innocence and fun of the end of year festivities.

However, you can RECLAIM your FUN!!

First, it’s important to ask yourself: What’s important to me in the festive season? Your answer needs to be your main priority in planning your December.

Here are some other helpful tips on how to experience a fairly relaxed and enjoyable December.

Pick your battles

Pick your battles in terms of what obligatory events to attend. Yes, you may need to visit that strange relo…or perhaps you need to show your face at your work Christmas party that insists on a weird dress-up theme every year… But pick and choose what you attend. Use this question to decide whether you really need to attend an event or social gathering:

  • How much does this matter to me, and to others? If you answer “not a lot”, then don’t go!

Reading blog post – How Aligned to Your Values are You? – may help in your decision making, as this article focuses on aligning life with what is important to you.

Use your energy wisely

We all carry around an invisible bucket of energy: Once it’s empty, there is none left! Invest your energy into things and people that give back. Try to avoid putting energy into things that have a ‘low return’ or cause you harm.

Show gratitude

Amongst all the craziness of this time of the year, pause and think back over the year: Who has been supportive and had your back? Take the time to say a heart felt “thank you”. Surprisingly, the task of saying “thank you” has lots of benefits, including: 1) It forces you to stop and smell the roses 2) It realigns you with who is really important in your life.

Look for corners to cut

It’s easy to “over-do” the festive season. For example, you may exhaust yourself by buying everyone in your family a present at Christmas. Or, perhaps you spend hours slaving over the kitchen stove, cooking for upcoming events. A good way to reduce stress and pressure is to look for some corners to cut. Here are some ideas:

  • When you attend those “obligatory” events, stay for only a short time – tell your hosts you are busy, but wished to make the effort to see them. People LOVE it when you make the effort.
  • If you’re no Jaimee Oliver, buy pre-made foods (if you can afford to)
  • Do a family Kris Kringle, rather than buy individual presents for each individual
  • Avoid jammed car parks and crowded shopping centres by strategically choosing non-peak times to shop

Indulge in the magic

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah or just the holidays, make a point of sprinkling fun throughout your December. The great thing about this time of the year is there is heaps to do! Here are some examples of enjoyable things to do: catch up with friends for dinner/drinks; plan a picnic; go on a road trip; see the Myer windows or the giant music-playing Christmas tree in fed square; watch live music.

Remember the festive season is not supposed to be perfect!

For a lot of people, this time of the year is tough. It can bring up difficult emotions. For example, Christmas or Hanukah may remind you of loved ones who have passed away. Or, you may be forced to contend with difficult family members. This time of the year can also be the loneliest time of the year for some people. It’s important to reduce pressure placed on yourself by striving for the “perfect” festive season.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology Help?

We are a team of warm and professional psychologists based in Melbourne, who are well trained and experienced in treating Stress. We also understand how tough this time of the year can be: Many of us struggle with Grief & Loss, Relationship Difficulties, Addiction, Loneliness & Depression, and Eating Issues. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.