It's no secret that things can get overwhelming around Christmas time, and this year is no exception. Here are 7 ways to reduce seasonal stress and keep the merry and light this Christmas. Make this year a year to remember.
1. Get organised
Santa is such a pro at this, make a list and check it twice. You may have an excellent memory, but it is always a good idea to have everything down on pen and paper or in digital form whichever works best for you.
A calendar can work well in this type of scenario so that you can see a chronological timeline for when things need to be done. If your shopping needs to be done by a specific date, write that down. If your neighbours have a yearly get together ( within guidelines of course) on a particular date, then write that down too. Your seasonal stress will be down in no time.
Having everything written in one place can help you to see everything at a glance, avoid mix-ups and missing outs.
2. Don't wait until the last minute
Leaving anything to the last minute is rarely a good idea. Take the time to start early, know what you are looking for and get not only a gift that the receiver will love but you can keep it within budget too.
Early preparation gives you the time to buy thoughtful, local and sustainable gifts that will be truly cherished by the receiver. Taking the time to think through is better for the planet, curbs expensive impulse spending and you’ll get extra brownie points for being so thoughtful.
3. Make a Christmas budget and keep to it
It is so easy to overspend at Christmas. Whether it is the food budget, gift budget, entertainment budget, it doesn't matter. Figure them all out and stick to them.
Budgets are like magic to keep a clear head and reduce seasonal stress.
4. Christmas Food Budget
I thought that I would separate out the food budget as it is such a significant stressor both financially and physically at this time of year. Food waste is exceptionally high at Christmas time, we tend to stock up, 'just in case’. According to an iReach survey:
Irish shoppers waste 50% more food during Christmas week than during the entire rest of the year, a shocking new survey has revealed.
And households throw out €1.5 billion worth of grub annually - peaking during the festive season when thousands of Christmas dinners are dumped to the value of around €42 million.
That is a massive amount of food and resources going to waste. It is not only the resources and energy, hours of labour, and time put into getting it to your home, only to be dumped. It is also the financial implication of this wasted food.
So save yourself all that extra time and money and stick to the shopping list and don't get distracted by all the special offers and great prices on things that you wouldn't usually buy or use regularly.
5. Minimalist minded decoration
Christmas decorations are the best and bring a smile to everyone's face. The shiny baubles and twinkling lights are an integral part of what makes the season feel so special. In saying that, you don't have to decorate every inch of your home.
Focus instead on the main areas, like the kitchen, living room and mantelpiece. These are the areas where people gather the most. Get the most out of your efforts by focusing on getting the best out of these, and it will take the pressure off having to decorate huge areas that no one can or will appreciate.
You will get the same effect and appreciative comments this way while also saving you time and money. There is nothing like a win-win scenario.
6. Get rid of clutter before Christmas
Unwanted clutter is like the Grinch of Christmas. No amount of decorating or fancy fairy lights can cover up that two-year-old stack of magazines that everyone keeps falling over.
Take a No Spend Day, or two, to sort out unwanted items donating or selling where possible. Get the kids involved by enlisting them to gather up their old toys and donating them. Try to make a game of it, suggest that they donate 2 of their pre-loved toys for every one expected Christmas toy.
You can also use the time to clear out your wardrobe, garage or that cupboard under the stairs. Get a head start on the new year by embracing your inner minimalist now.
7. Downtime is a must
This is key to reduce seasonal stress. As much as we all love the bustle of Christmas, downtime is essential too to recharge the batteries.
It does not matter which part of the day or week you take to yourself as long as you carve out that time and use it solely for you. Read a book, drink a leisurely tea before the kids wake up, put on some relaxing tunes and let your mind wander in no particular direction.
Remember what the Christmas season is about
Christmas is a time of reconnecting, merriness and being grateful for love and life in our world. You want to look back on the season with fond memories and good times. Don't let the month go by in a blur. Be kind to yourself and reduce seasonal stress.
Slow down and think about what you really want to do this season. Don't get so caught up in the bustle that you forget to enjoy the people you're doing this for. By starting early, you'll be able to have a merry—and much less stressful—Christmas.
By doing this, you give yourself a fighting chance of arriving into the new year, stress-free, debt-free and ready to take on whatever fun challenge you choose to.
Thank you so much to Kel Galavan for this amazing guest blog post. Head to Kel's website, www.mrssmartmoney.com for lots more great information and to find out about her book, 'Mindful Money'.