How are you feeling about this holiday season?
Excited? Joyful? Apprehensive? Anxious? Stressed? Overwhelmed?
And here’s the thing, hopefully there’s a bit of the first two feelings jingling around your body, but if you’re like most modern-day parents, then you might also be feeling a lot of the latter as you hurtle towards the big day. Instead of luxuriating in Christmas joy, are you one of the many parents feeling stressed this holiday period; with an overactive nervous system, feeling worn out and being more reactive and snappy than you’d like?
This is completely normal for so many of us. We live in a fast-paced world and our modern-day struggles are completely understandable given the particular mix of human nature alongside our early experiences and cultural conditioning. Add in the pressure of delivering the perfect Christmas and it’s no wonder many parents silently ask “how will I get through the next few weeks?”
Christmas is full of tradition but rather than giving us a snowy-filled, happy-family, gingerbread-baking kind of vibe, these traditions can make many of us feel super stressed; causing us to shout more at our kids and feel more guilt and shame as a result. If this is happening for you ask yourself; why do you continue with these traditions? What is your intention for keeping them up?
So, to help you through the final two weeks of the year, please take this gift from us to you; our 12 soothing ways to have a less stressful Christmas this year; you deserve it. It’s time to create new holiday rituals that help you feel soothed, not stressed and that therefore, serve you and your entire family.
Coming Soon: In January 2023, we’re hosting a FREE webinar to give you a simple understanding of your nervous system, how to regulate it and how to support your child’s nervous system so you can feel calmer and more relaxed in any situation.
Co-Regulation: Regulating Your Own Nervous System and Support Your Child’s Regulation Development
Why it’s important for Christmas to be less stressful
Lots of parents feel pressure around Christmas. Carrying on traditions (though we may not even know why we have them), getting caught up in consumerism, parties, events and not enough down time can make this time of year stressful, when our bodies require us to slow down, turn inwards and rejuvenate.
Sadly, if we don’t create boundaries for ourselves and act within our limits, our children will learn this behaviour too and will be creating their own stressful, intense Christmas’s in two decades time.
We need to break the pattern. Learn and follow these 12 easy, yet essential tips for reducing the stress in your head, heart and home this Christmas, and give your family the ultimate gift – a calm and joyful you.
12 Soothing Ways to Reduce Christmas Stress
- Don’t be the hostess with the mostess
Every year, you agree to have the in-laws, their second cousins and the pet rabbit – and you don’t have to. Their Christmas won’t fall apart if you choose not to be the bearer of all. You can keep doing things “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” but if it causes stress then ask yourself, is it worth it? Only you know and only you can make the change.
There are plenty of fun options to try:
- Host a bring and share – ask everyone to bring a dish to the party
- Join a community event
- Get a takeout!
2. Know your limits
There’s lots to do in the run up to Christmas: work parties, Santa’s grottos, Christmas markets, hanging lights outside the house, sending Christmas cards (see next tip), Stir Up Sunday…you choose what to be a part of and you don’t have to do it all.
If all you want to do this holiday is hunker down and watch a film you Love (Actually, it doesn’t have to be a Christmas film!) then do it. The best gift you could teach your children is how to make your own rules about Christmas that are comfortable and doable.
To understand why we feel stressed when we’re juggling lots of tasks, sign up for our free January webinar where our founder and experienced CBT therapist Navit will easily guide you through the nervous system and how to notice when it is activated.
3. Don’t write Christmas cards
We know, this is controversial. And if you love writing them and it’s a relaxing holiday ritual then carry on. However, if it feels like a chore then remove the pressure once and for all.
If you feel the need to spread a holiday message to your nearest and dearest, then give them a call or make a donation to a charity and let everyone know on social media. You deserve a less stressful Christmas.
4. Do a Christmas holiday daily check-in
This is something you should do every day of the year, but it’s even more important now, when the pressure of catering to others becomes greater.
A daily check-in can simply look like asking yourself how you feel and giving yourself a moment of your time, 5 minutes of quiet breathing, a few notes of gratitude in your journal, or a quick sun salutation. Whatever brings you awareness of your current stress level and helps you reset your nervous system is perfect.
A daily check-in is a valuable skill for yourself and will bring wonderful benefits to your family. In the first module of our one-of-a-kind, 12-week Emotional Regulation programme we help you to dive deep into why a daily check-in is important and how to easily implement one.
5. Build your emotional toolkit
Especially if you have to spend time with family members or people who trigger you.
You can choose who to spend time with. Depending on what’s best for you. However, if saying no isn’t possible then ensure you have plans to give yourself time out when you’re with them – go to your room, the bathroom, the shops, take the dog for a walk, the kids to the park – and then remember to breathe.
See our YouTube channel for some easy 2-minute breathing exercises you can do anywhere. Subscribe to our channel and you’ll have access to them as easily as you can find your YouTube app.
6. It’s hard to be jolly when you’re in debt
Only spend what you feel comfortable spending. Buying presents for family and friends can feel like a whirlwind. If buying second cousin Gary some bluetooth earphones is going to make you worry for the next 4 weeks – Gary will understand.
Plus, by setting the boundary, you’ll probably stop him from feeling like he needs to overspend next Christmas. Applying these tips really will transcend the whole family.
7. It doesn’t need to be “Perfect” – it needs to be Real
Do you feel like you have too much to remember? Do you believe everything needs to be “perfect” for your kids? These thoughts can cause a lot of stress as aiming for “perfection” is unachievable.
The only thing you NEED to remember is this: your kids want 2 things, to spend time with you and eat more chocolate than they’re normally allowed to. They won’t remember the bells and whistles but the feelings of love and togetherness that Christmas is all about.
8. Ditch the Elf
Unless you truly enjoy it, don’t feel like you need to engage in cultural crazes because you’re worried your kids will miss out. If coming up with “fun” ideas for your elf is another task on your never-ending to do list then do yourself (and your kids) a favour and model creating traditions around what feels good for you.
Trust us, your kids will thrive on having a present parent. Much more than seeing the Elf lying spread eagled in a pile of flour on the kitchen floor.
9. A special note for Blended Families
Christmas can be a really hard time if you’re spending it without your children. Especially with lots of messages floating around about the joy of family time during this period.
Or perhaps you’ve recently lost a loved one and this is your first Christmas without them. By the way, we see you and invite you to join our loving, supportive, private Facebook group filled with other Conscious and Calm mums. Ready to support and hold space for you anytime you need.
Feeling pressure to enjoy these “happy times” can leave you feeling isolated and lonely so, prioritise yourself (always but especially this time of year). And ask for support from those around you who you trust.
3 Soothing Gifts To Have A Less Stressful Christmas
You’ve read 9 of our soothing and essential ways to make Christmas less stressful, now for 3 more. Here are 3 Christmas gifts to soothe your nervous system.
- The Gift of Breathwork
Over the Christmas season, take 5 minutes each day (or whenever you notice your stress levels rising) and breathe. You can simply sit (or stand or lie down) and notice your breath, staying aware until it feels regulated and calm or you can try this simple breath exercise:
Inhale for a count of 4 – Exhale for a count of 6 (and repeat 5 times or until you feel calmer and more connected to yourself). When we extend the exhale, it soothes the nervous system sending signals to your brain that you are safe. You will feel calmer and more relaxed and have a less stressful Christmas.
- The Gift of Words
Treat yourself to a beautiful journal – take a look at our gorgeous and easy-to-use bedtime journal. Each night of the Christmas season, before you sleep, jot down a few thoughts from the day, some wishes and hopes for the final weeks of the year, and 3 things you’re grateful for.
You’ll clear your mind ready for a restorative sleep. Which is truly the best gift you can give yourself this Christmas.
- The Gift of Nature
Instead of running around in a frenzy buying last-minute gifts or stressful baking with the kids, go for a walk. There will always be more we can do. So aim for “good enough” and get out into the fresh, cold air instead. Breathe it in and move your body.
Your mind and body will thank you with renewed vigour and energy in time for the new year.
Make Every Christmas Less Stressful
We hope these tips can help you find joy this Christmas.
Please take this one, important message: doing more than we’re physically capable of – overeating, not sleeping enough, spending more money and time than we’re comfortable doing – is exhausting and stressful, even when it’s dressed up in tinsel and glitter.
Remember, if you don’t want your children to relive these traditions around Christmas, and suffer the same stress, then create new traditions now. Recognise your limits, set your boundaries and stay connected to yourself and the magic inside. And your children will see exactly what it takes to create peace and joy at this time of year. You will have a less stressful Christmas.
If you want more guidance and information about the nervous system, such as why it becomes activated and how to check in with your nervous system and soothe it; and support your children to do the same, then make sure you sign up for our free webinar in January.
This is a valuable opportunity to learn from Navit – Conscious and Calm founder and CBT therapist – and ask her questions.
Remember, it all starts with you. Stay soothed this Christmas and watch the glorious, calm ripple effect across your entire family.
PS. Thinking about how to make 2023 less stressful? Take a look at our Conscious and Calm 2023 planner.
Designed to help you:
- Plan your time better
- Reduce procrastination
- Help you create more balance
- Feel more organised
- Free up mental space
If you want to feel more “on top of it all” in 2023, then this is the planner for you!