We know that not everybody celebrates Christmas – and we know that Christmas can be a really difficult time, if you’re feeling lonely or isolated and all the ads on the telly are showing perfect families enjoying perfect festive gatherings. Even if you’re going to be with family or friends, there’s a lot of pressure to spend too much or try too hard to make it ’perfect’ – stress levels can rise and then there are the family rows…

Here are a few ideas for making Christmas just that little bit less stressful.

If there’s one task that really stresses you out during the holidays, think about whether you can tackle it in a new way. A fresh approach just might make a difference. For example, if you dread having to send out Christmas cards, can you enlist your partner and split the list? Can you start them super-early and just write one every few days, putting them in a pile til it’s time to send them?

If you’re going to be on your own this Christmas, try to plan ahead and think about how you would like to spend the day. Do you want to cook or not? How about starting the day with a walk? Is there an epic book you've been wanting to start? Or a box-set? 

Be gentle, generous and patient with yourself. If you find Christmas uncomfortable or distressing, make a list of any services that you might need and their Christmas opening hours. Mind have a list of useful contacts.

 

If you’re spending time with others at Christmas, put the emphasis on being together and enjoying each other’s company, rather than the presents. You can do this by getting in some old fashioned board games (always available in charity shops) and picking out some great old films to watch on the TV.

 

If you get overwhelmed by it all, schedule in some me-time. Have a bubble bath. Walk the dog. Take half an hour to read your new book.

Try to stick to your normal routine. If your average day starts with waking up, pouring yourself a cuppa, and reading the newspaper, don’t skip it. If you exercise every day, keep exercising. If none of that is possible, have quick ‘thinker moments’ - let your mind wander and daydream for a few moments throughout the day. These moments give the brain a break and allow it to reboot. Check out our tips for looking after yourself at Christmas.

 

Try to avoid getting into the rut of expensive, stressful family Christmas traditions that nobody really wants to do. Invent some news 'traditions' that are family-focused and fun. Make a tree decoration together. Watch a festive film. Go for a walk.

 

Christmas day is not the time to try out a new and complicated recipe! Don't stress-out on the preparations and menu, cook something you’re confident with and focus on enjoying your company.

 

Merry Christmas!