Psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy advises on how to keep stress free at Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time
It’s that time of year again. Christmas songs are playing on the radio. decorations are up. and the pressure is on to begin or finish your gift shopping. Christmas, our favourite time of year.

It’s that time of year again. Christmas songs are playing on the radio. decorations are up. and the pressure is on to begin or finish your gift shopping. Christmas, our favourite time of year.

Tis the season to feel stressful fa-la-la-la-la, la-la, la, la. How can our memories of Christmas be so joyful and warm while our holiday reality seems so packed with things to do and obligations to keep? It relates back to happier childhood memories.

So how do you think your Christmas will be? Will it be stress free or stressful? Christmas is typically one of the most stressful events of the year. The expense of buying gifts, the pressure of last minute shopping, and the increased expectations of family togetherness can all combine to undermine our best intentions. The secret is preparation and the time to prepare is now.

Plan ahead

Don’t keep Christmas in your head. Get it down on paper. Even Santa has a list for a reason! Buy a notebook and use it to record anything involved in planning Christmas, from food and present ideas. Write out your list of things to do, then strike through the tasks that are neither urgent nor essential. Look at what’s left and see what you could delegate, e.g. give someone responsibility for buying and putting up decorations. Your to do list will instantly shrink.

According to a recent study, around 60 per cent of people dislike Christmas shopping, just 20 per cent plan their shopping expeditions, and the majority of us (nearly 75 per cent) often come home without a single purchase for our efforts. Instead try to do your Christmas shopping as early as possible.

Budgeting for Christmas

Christmas can result in accumulating massive credit card bills that take months to clear. It doesn’t have to be a financial headache if you plan ahead. Work out a budget of expected Christmas costs as early as possible. This includes ‘hidden’ expenses such as food bills. Stick to your budget.

Presents

If you have a large circle of extended family or friends to buy for, it can be very costly. You might be able to reduce the stress and cost of Christmas for all if you suggest a change in the way your family and friends give presents. For example:

Buy presents only for the children.

Have a Secret Santa, where everyone draws a name out of a hat and buys a present with an agreed price eg €10 only for that person

Set a limit on the cost of presents for each person

health and wellbeing

Try to be moderate – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful. Drink driving is a real danger and is illegal. If you can’t (or don’t want to) step off the social merry-go-round, at least eat and drink in moderation.

Get enough sleep – plan plenty of early nights.

Keep moving – keeping up your exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the season.

Relationships

Stress, anxiety, and low mood particularly if someone is bereaved are common during the festive season.

If nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. Don’t expect miracles. If you and certain family members bicker all year long, you can be sure there’ll be tension at Christmas gatherings. Avoid known triggers, particularly alcohol which can accelerate tension and arguments.

Life is about relationships not stuff. Less stuff equals more room for growth and you becoming your real self not the false front that sucks up too much energy. No. The real self is that person who is happy in their own skin, who is authentic, compassionate and contented.