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Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year according to singer Andy Williams. He might revel in ‘much mistletoeing’ and fun ‘when loved ones are near’ but for many of us, reality is quite different.

Christmas can be a stressful, exhausting time of year and we can’t wait for Boxing Day to roll around to have a rest. Altius Group’s Employee Wellbeing Programs Specialist, Sharon Richens, shares some tips to help you manage Christmas stress.

Causes of Christmas Stress

It’s not all Mr Claus’ fault that Christmas is so stressful. December is a shorter work month for many workers. It means getting everything done in fewer days so you can take off on annual leave. There might be the added stress of attending work Christmas functions and buying an appropriate Secret Santa gift for someone in the office.

Then there’s the Christmas stress in your personal life. You might have a long list of relatives you need to buy presents for, catch-ups with friends, the empty bank account, the food you need to buy and prepare, decorations to put up, your house to get ready for visitors…soon your list of to do’s is as long as the big red man’s. But before you declare that you’re cancelling Christmas, try a few of our tips to help reduce your stress this year.

6 Steps to Preventing Christmas Stress

Sharon recommends a few simple steps for gaining control over your stress levels during the silly season.

#1 Get Organised

Even if the list making feels never-ending, keep going. Add a few things at a time then cross them off as you get them done. Start as early as possible with your tasks and work out what you can do in advance and which tasks can only be completed the day or two before. Put some dates against the tasks so you know what to do by when. This will help prevent that last minute Christmas rush!

#2 Delegate Some of your List

Most people find December is a busy month, but if you feel overwhelmed, find someone who can help lessen the load for you. If you’re under pressure at work, speak to your manager about the priorities for the rest of the year and what can be shifted to the new year. Ask around if there is anyone who can take on some of your tasks or get in a temp to help until Christmas Eve.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed on the home front, look at your list and highlight some tasks you can delegate to your partner, kids or relatives. Give them plenty of notice of what you want done and when. This is a great way to get everyone involved in the preparations!

#3 Say No or Postpone

If you usually host a get-together at your place in December and the mere thought of having that many people over is stressing you out, make a change. Christmas should be a happy time for everyone. So suggest this year you go to a restaurant or picnic instead so there’s less work for you. If you still want to have friends and family over, think about postponing an event to January when you’re not so busy.

If your December calendar is already looking crazy, don’t overcommit yourself and the family. Politely decline the next invite so you can spend some time relaxing at home rather than being constantly on the go.

#4 Look after your Health

During busy, stressful times, we often look for quick and easy options like take away meals. Eating meals that are high in fat and low in nutrition might save you a few minutes in preparation time but you won’t feel great after eating it. Meal plan for the week ahead with fresh, healthy ingredients that are quick and easy to prepare.

As tempting as it is to overindulge over the festive period with gifts of chocolate and wine, try to keep it in moderation. Now the weather is getting warmer enjoy salads, barbeques and stir fries on the list. Buy the ingredients and do as much prep as you can ahead of time.

If you’re frantically rushing to prepare Christmas lunch before guests arrive, remember to eat between the glasses of wine and keep an eye on your alcohol consumption. Alcohol has plenty of calories that contribute to the Christmas kilos. A big night might also mean a wasted day recovering when you could be out shopping or crossing off your list of chores.

#5 Do Some Exercise

When you’re rushing around the shops or getting ready for the next event, you don’t think exercise is necessary. You might have spent hours on your feet, but going for a walk in nature, a visit to the gym or pool can do wonders for your stress levels and can give your energy a boost so you’re ready to tackle your list.

It can also give you a much needed break to take your mind off the stress to focus on your own health and wellbeing.

#6 Keep your Expectations in Check

At the risk of sounding like a grinch, Christmas Day is rarely perfect for anyone. Don’t expect too much of the big day and put yourself under pressure. Sometimes our expectations of this ‘wonderful time of the year’ causes disappointment and resentment when it turns out anything but wondrous. Enjoy the little moments of joy and time spent with loved ones.

Altius Group Workplace Wellbeing Programs take a holistic approach to looking after employee wellbeing - and programs are tailored to the wellbeing needs of each workplace. To learn more about our Workplace Wellbeing Programs contact us online.