Are you already starting to dread how you’ll manage the whole festive period without burning out? You may feel that there are so many demands on you during the festive period. Perhaps you have always been the one that organises everything for everyone else Perhaps you are worried about getting ready and making that “perfect” experience for your loved ones or how the family is going to behave during the holidays or where to even spend the bank holidays?

The festive period is often a very busy period for many as there are social gatherings and in some ways “pressure” to be merry and have a good time. This can become really stressful. I wanted to offer some suggestions on how to reduce the stress so that you would be more able to enjoy the festivities if you are hosting or taking part in festive activities.

1. Delegate and ask for help

Perhaps you feel that you need to be a perfect host. Find the perfect gifts, do lots for others or whatever it is that you tend to do. If you have always done everything for others, start delegating tasks so that you get help and don’t end up overwhelmed with having to do everything. Perhaps you could try asking people to contribute to creating the atmosphere. Doing things together makes people feel good. The more you are able to relax and take part in the festivities rather than just planning and organising it, the more you are going to enjoy it.

If you have always been a person who struggles to ask for help this could be your first step toward adopting a new attitude for the new year. You don’t need to do it all alone. We are here for each other and sharing is caring. Changing your approach can really make a difference for your well-being in the future.

2. When there is little else you can do, just breathe

It may feel such an obvious thing, but often when we feel overwhelmed and/or anxious we might hold our breath or shallow breath. Deep breathing is one of the quickest ways to change how you feel. Perhaps you are dealing with difficult family members, people getting drunk and behaving inappropriately. This can be really overwhelming. In order to be able to make informed decisions about how you behave and handle difficult situations, you need to feel grounded and calm otherwise your “upstairs” brain is not able to function properly.

3. Continue with self-care even when busy

  • Make space for you even if it feels that there is little room for you
    – Listen to relaxation music before going to bed or at other convenient times
    – Just stop to breath and being in the present even for a few moments at a time
    – Run a relaxing bath and use your favourite shower gel – this may sound obvious but sometimes you have to actually find the time to do it and not just think about it.
  • Do moderate exercise, even walking outside in the fresh air
  • Drink only moderately so that you avoid those – “I wish had not done/said that” – moments – Drink plenty of water and dilute your drinks so that you end up consuming less alcohol
  • Stick to a balanced diet and have treats rather than going overboard
  • You could try using a food diary to help you to keep you on track
  • Find someone to babysit even for an hour or two, do something just for you.
  • Pace yourself – take frequent breaks in whatever you are doing to give yourself and opportunity to bring your nervous system down and regulate. The world will not end if you give yourself even a small break.

4. Move from aiming for perfection to good enough

Change your attitude from it’s got to be perfect to good enough will or accepting that it is what it is, you can make new holiday traditions. There is no need to follow what’s always been done. Lowering your expectations to create this “perfect” holiday season can be really hard. Ask yourself what is your goal and what would make the holidays enjoyable, not exhausting for you. If you feel that you have to organise a “perfect” festive season for your family, think about how would your loved ones like to see you: enjoying yourself or exhausted with stress? Everyone is equally responsible for creating the festive atmosphere and that is not just down to you. What would be good enough for you and your loved ones this year? If you are often assuming things (see cognitive errors), perhaps ask your family what would make it special for everyone. Generally, people enjoying being together and no bells are whistles are necessarily needed, they are an added bonus.

5. Spend time with people who lift your spirits

Surround yourself with people who support you and help you to create an enjoyable experience this festive season. You may feel the pressure to be around family members who are less than appreciative of your efforts. Last year I wrote a post about dealing with a dysfunctional family during the holidays. You don’t have to spend your precious time with people who do not contribute to your good health and well-being. Accepting this can be liberating.

In short,
I hope these points got you thinking about how not to run out of steam this festive season. Remember at the end of the day, you are in charge of your own life regardless of how many demands you feel there are for you. Take care of yourself!