Top 10 tips for a stress-free Christmas

Overwhelmed already by the approach of the Christmas festivities? You need my tips for a stress-free Christmas

Stressed by the thought of the endless present buying, shopping, wrapping, cooking and enforced levels of jollity you need to summon up whilst simultaneously boiling the Brussels sprouts, pouring the Prosecco and charming the relatives you hardly ever see? Blanking out the depressing thought of all those credit card bills spilling over to spoil your New Year?

Panic not, you are not alone. Over 25% of the population confess to being overwhelmed by the pressures of the most wonderful day of the year.

So, what to do about it?

How to minimise the fall-out, and avoid that post-Christmas crash.

1 Delegate: Don’t take it all on yourself. Write up a Christmas To-Do list, and share it out amongst everyone who will be there on Christmas Day. One task each is easy for everyone, and will lighten the burden.

2 Drains and Radiators: There are those whose company you love, and who energise you when you spend time with them. And there are those who drain all that energy away. Make sure your Christmas celebrations are spent with more ‘radiators’ than ‘drains’.

Do you really need to spend Christmas with your terrible relative – the one who puts a damper on everyone else’s joy? Is it a habit? Or a kindness on your part that in reality ruins everyone else’s Christmas? It may not be something you can change, but if it is, perhaps ring the changes. Maybe this year it’s someone else’s turn? Rotate: share the burden.

3 Build up your stamina: Exercise, exercise, exercise. Christmas is a marathon, so build up your strength and get your circulation and energy levels going. Walk to the shops; take the stairs not the lifts and clench your core as you pound the streets with those carrier bags and wrap presents deep into the night.

4 Dose yourself up: You can’t afford to be the one that goes down with the flu the night before Christmas. Make sure you up your vitamin C levels; buy in the elderberry cordial and spray your nose and throat with colloidal silver daily. Keep those viruses at bay: stay strong.

5 Minimise the Christmas spend: Set a ‘present budget’. See who can be the cleverest at finding the best present for a minimal amount of money. Visit charity shops; look on eBay; make it yourself. You will be amazed at what you can come up with. Or go for ‘Secret Santa’ – and make sure everyone gets one special present rather than ten to carry to the charity shop on Boxing Day!

6 Cut down on the sugar: ‘A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips…’ Apart from the additional pounds that even a day’s worth of indulgence can add to your waistline, a Christmas overload of mince pies, cake, biscuits, alcohol and chocolates can send your liver into a tailspin and crash your energy levels. Cook with Stevia or Xylitol. Serve one Christmas pudding not three.

7 Add in more protein: Think carefully about your Christmas feast and substitute where you can. Cut down on the blood sugar stimulating carbs – replace the parsnips, reduce the roast potatoes and add in more green vegetables. Forget the bread and butter and instead practise your sprout cooking, because there really are recipes that make them taste delicious!

Swop the milk chocolate for 70% dark and out with the dates and dried apricots. Replace super sugary dried fruits with fresh fruit salad. Serve nuts in all their glory – brazil nuts, hazelnuts and almonds are all full of health boosting minerals and fats - and keep those blood sugar levels from crashing.

8 Cut out the coffee: Swop the after lunch or dinner coffees, which stimulate your system and keep your system on high alert, for a soothing herbal tea instead. Go for Valerian, nature’s alternative sleeping pill, and watch everyone relax and dose off in front of the TV.

9 Control the TV: Make sure you all watch feel-good happy Christmassy films together. Laughter is the best therapy of all: make your guests laugh and all their troubles will fade away. Search out those old Candid Camera episodes; put on Fawlty Towers or Friends, and fill your house with joy. Watching those endless death and murder series that seems to be all that’s on offer these days has been shown to raise blood pressure levels and make sleep impossible.

10. A shoulder to cry on: Last but not least, keep ‘7cups’ to hand if all goes hideously wrong. This is an online emotional support service that gives you someone to talk to for free. Their database contains over 160,000 trained listeners and licensed therapists experienced in stress and anxiety to whom you can speak anonymously in total confidence. You can search for a topic you need help with – pick from Christmas issues, bullying, eating disorders, panic attacks, relationship difficulties - and if you need to, you can continue with the same advisor, one on one, for longer term counselling.


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Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health. 

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