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Tips to Prevent Christmas Stress

Whilst the Christmas season often brings fun and festivities it can also be a very stressful time. This is not surprising given that we often have to juggle an array of differing demands — parties, shopping, cooking, families, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. However, with some practical tips, you can minimize feelings of stress. What helps us the most, is to try and prevent stress before it takes over! Below are some helpful tips that you can try this year. 1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has died in the past year or you find yourself alone at Christmas realize that it's normal to feel sad. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's Christmas. Often Christmas is a sad time for people not a happy one. 2. Reach out to your Community. Not all of us have family to spend Christmas with. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering can be a lovely way of giving to others and at the same time making new friends. Volunteers are often needed over the Christmas season and on Christmas day itself. 3. Be realistic and flexible. Christmas doesn't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families and friends change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. It is important to keep some rituals, but be open to creating new ones to accommodate the changes in your life. 4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are. It can help to remind yourself of the things you like about these people instead of just focusing on the frustrations. If grievances do arise try to put them aside and deal with them after Christmas. 5. Stick to a budget. Buying gifts and food can be a big stressor in these difficult financial times. Before you go shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. The following alternatives can be nice gift ideas: Donate to a charity in someone's name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange. 6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, cooking, visiting friends and other activities. Ensure you set enough time for each activity. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. Also, ask for help when you need it. Don’t wait for it to be offered. 7. Learn to say no. The saying “we must catch up before Christmas” is a common one!! Saying yes when you really want (or need) to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. These feelings contribute to stress and depressive feelings. People will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. 8. Maintain healthy habits. It is important over the Christmas season to maintain good food and exercise habits. Try not to consume too much alcohol or processed foods. These foods are low in nutrition and contribute to feelings of stress and depression. Also, continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity. 9. Take a breather. Continue to do the things that relax you and provide you pleasure. These can be meditation, long walks, listening to your favourite music, taking a long hot bath. Any activity that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm will be of great benefit. 10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. We wish you are very happy and stress free Christmas!

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