Six stresses of Christmas | How to beat festive stress

Christmas stress, winter

It’s meant to be a time of cheer, relaxation and celebration, but for many, Christmas is stressful.

Fitting in the Christmas shopping, tying up loose ends at work, managing the typical family logistics and keeping track of spending can all add to the stress and pressure many feel in the run up to Christmas. In fact, over three quarters of working Brits feel anxious or even depressed about the cost of Christmas.

But does it really need to be this way? By recognising when you’re feeling overwhelmed, you take the necessary steps towards taking care of your wellbeing in the run-up to and during the festive season.

Here are some tips on how to avoid feeling stressed during this years’ Christmas break, from the wellbeing experts at CABA.

Keep things in perspective

Try to be realistic about what you can do and how much money you can spend. Remember, whilst there may be 12 days of Christmas, December is just 1 month out of the whole year, so it’s not worth getting into debt over. The day itself should not be about who’s spent the most so try not to compare your experience with what other people are doing.

Make time for yourself

If you’ve been running around making preparations, it’s easy to forget about yourself so make some time to relax or do something you enjoy. If you can spare just a few moments for yourself, it could help you let go of any tension you’re feeling – and that means you’ll enjoy the holidays more.

Try putting aside some time to read a book or go for a walk; the fresh air will help to clear your head. Even if you only have a few minutes to spare here and there, you could practice some simple breathing techniques that may help make you feel more relaxed – try this:

  • Sit comfortably in the quietest place you can find
  • Inhale through your nose counting to 5
  • Exhale through your mouth without pausing or holding your breath, again to a count of 5
  • Continue for a few minutes

Digital detox

Some people find it difficult to switch off from their jobs during the holidays, but this time of year presents the perfect opportunity to detox – digitally speaking. You may struggle with not checking your emails, but these behaviours could mean you’re not fully disconnecting from your work life and getting the break you need.

Try to avoid switching on your laptop or checking your emails when you should be spending time with your loved ones or having a quiet time relaxing. It can be easier said than done, so if you must check your work emails, limit it to just 1 hour at a set time each day, ideally first thing in the morning so it’s out of the way.

Listen to soothing sounds

Whatever stressful situation you may find yourself in, try listening to music as it’s been found to have a calming effect on the brain. This may explain why so many people enjoy Christmas carol concerts, as those uplifting choruses offer some well-timed relief from the pressure the season can bring.

Listening to natural sounds is also a great way to help calm your spirits, especially when you’ve been exposed to busy, noisy surroundings all day. You can listen to natural sounds online – websites offering free nature sounds include and, or search for nature sounds in Spotify, the Apple App store or Google Play.

Get plenty of sleep

Even if you don’t have children to entertain, you may find your normal sleep patterns become disrupted by the lack of natural light at this time of year. Eating too much rich food and drinking more alcohol than you’re used to could also mean you’re not getting the quality of sleep your body needs.

Lack of sleep can make you feel stressed and irritable, so try not to cut corners where your sleep hours are concerned. Instead, stick to your usual sleep-wake schedule, which means going to bed and getting up at your normal time whenever you can. If you’re struggling to sleep at night, then try taking a power nap during the day. Scientists have shown that a power nap can be as refreshing as a good night’s sleep.

Avoid taking on too much

Between social commitments, work parties and family gatherings, it’s easy to fill up your calendar to the brim with festive get-togethers. Remember, it’s ok to say no. The Christmas period is a time where you can relax before the new year so don’t be afraid to turn down plans in favour of a night in front of the TV.

Christmas should be a happy time so try to relax, have fun and be merry. Most importantly, make sure you take time out for you.

For more wellbeing tips and advice, visit CABA’s help and guides.

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