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 heightened expectations of family togetherness can all combine to undermine our best intentions. Some practical suggestions can help you reduce your ‘Christmas stress’.

For many of us, the Christmas aftermath includes massive credit card bills that can take months to clear. Christmas doesn’t have to be a financial headache if you plan ahead.

Stress reduction strategies
Working out a rough budget of expected Christmas costs as early as possible. This includes ‘hidden’ expenses such as food bills and overseas telephone charges.

Calculating how much disposable income you have between now and Christmas. A certain percentage of this can be dedicated each week (or fortnight or month) to cover your expected Christmas costs.

If you have a large circle of extended family or friends to buy gifts for, it can be very costly. You could reduce the stress and cost of Christmas for everyone if you suggest a change in the way your family and friends give presents. You could suggest that your group:

d Buy presents only for the children.
d Have a Kris Kringle, where everyone draws a name out of a hat and buys a present only for that person.
d Set a limit on the cost of presents for each person

General health and wellbeing
Other ways to keep your stress levels down include:
d Be moderate – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful. Drink driving is dangerous and illegal.
d Get enough sleep – Get as many early nights as you can.
Keep moving– Keep up your regular exercise routine. This can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.

Stress, anxiety, and depression are common during the festive season. Reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. Stress reduction strategies:

d Don’t expect miracles. If you and certain family members bicker all year long, tension is likely at Christmas gatherings.
d Avoid known triggers. For example, if politics is a touchy subject, don’t talk about it. If someone brings up the topic, use distraction and move on.

d Get family members involved in after-lunch activities. They are less likely to get into arguments. Plan group activities after lunch.

According to studies 60 percent of us dislike Christmas shopping. Just 20 percent plan their shopping expeditions.  Nearly 75 percent often come home without a single purchase.

Stress reduction strategies for shopping:
d Make a list of all the gifts to buy before you go shopping. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you could be wandering aimlessly for hours.

d Cross people off the list as you buy to avoid duplication
d Buy a few extras, such as chocolates, just in case you forget somebody or you have unexpected guests bearing gifts.
d If possible, do your Christmas shopping early – in the first week of December. Some well-organised people do their Christmas shopping gradually over the course of the year.