Christmas is a time for celebration with work colleagues, joyous family gatherings and a well-earned recharge after a busy year. Or so we’re led to believe. However, our experience can be somewhat different to that portrayed in our favourite Christmas flicks. The work celebration turns into an alcohol-fest and three-day hangover that reminds us we’re no longer 22; our family gatherings have more tension than an Eastender’s Christmas special; and our vision of a recharge turns into an amusing case of self-delusion as the reality of last-minute panic shopping combined with entertaining our kids in sub-zero temperatures kicks in!

Whilst most of us aspire to a stress-free Christmas, the end-result is often anything but! However, does it have to be this way? Surely it’s possible to balance the demands and challenges of the festive season with the feeling of calm and goodwill after which we all strive? Consider these ten top stress-busting tips an early Christmas present to help make this your reality:

  1. Move from rigid demands to flexible plans: Without realising it, we can often be our own worst enemy by heaping unnecessary pressure on ourselves. We can easily avoid doing so simply by changing the language we use. ‘This Christmas lunch has to be cooked perfectly and must be served on-time’ comes with a whole world of pressure compared to ‘I aim to cook a tasty Christmas dinner and to serve up as close to 2pm as possible.’ Both have a positive intent, but the second give us the necessary breathing space to enjoy the process and not feel like a failure if five hours of slaving away leads to a teeny ten minute delay!
  2. Focus on the positives: It’s scientifically proven that our minds can only do one thing at a time. Therefore, if we’re focusing on what’s going well and the little wins, by definition we can’t also be focusing on the negatives. Two weeks of this positive mindset will leave you feeling like the festive season was a huge success, while two weeks of focusing on everything that didn’t go to plan will leave you muttering bah humbug under your breath!
  3. Live in the moment: Many of us find ourselves focusing all of our attention on the big day; literally counting down the days until 25 December finally arrives. Unwittingly, this heaps huge pressure onto the day, before then leaving us with a background sense of remorse once it has passed. However, Einstein taught us that time is ultimately an illusion, and it’s only ever really the now. So live Christmas like a genius physicist and enjoy each moment as it unfolds… it’s the only place we can ever actually experience love, peace, joy or goodwill that we’re looking for.
  4. Give (and not just presents): We live in a society where we’re led to believe that happiness comes through things. Quite naturally, we therefore wait expectantly for the magic present opening frenzy that is Christmas morning. However, the joy of ‘things’ has a relatively short half-life and the resulting happiness soon passes. So, as well as enjoying giving and receiving materials gifts, give time to your kids, undivided attention to your loved ones, or a smile to a stranger… these are the gifts that we remember in time
  5. Have fun: Christmas is a brilliant excuse to let your hair down and have fun. So plan day trips to places you cherish or that you’d love to explore, watch films that make you laugh, and revel in becoming a big kid again
  6. Be thankful: It’s sometimes easy to forget how much we have in our lives and how many people across the world would wish to be in our shoes. So be thankful for all of the little things in our lives, from the fresh running water, to the luxury of central heated houses, to the abundance of food in our supermarkets, and the entertainment at our fingertips. In time, this appreciation takes away our thirst for more and allows us to enjoy the abundance that’s already ours
  7. Don’t break the bank: If we’ve got plenty of money, then we may choose to spend it on things that bring us and others joy. If money’s currently tight then it’s equally perfect to choose to spend wisely. A Christmas with all the trimmings followed by a January worrying about the bills simply isn’t worth the pay-off, so make a choice that feels right for you
  8. Enjoy the simple things: How many of our most treasured memories come from the simple pleasures in life? Whether it’s a family film cuddled under a blanket with the kids or walking the dog on Christmas day, honour the little things, and you may discover they aren’t so little after all
  9. Take the pressure off: Who cares if the turkey’s a bit dry and one of our kids isn’t in quite the joyous mood we’d hoped for on Christmas morning. All we can ever do is focus on what’s in our control, and then forgive and accept the rest
  10. It’s ok to need a bit of down time: Let’s be honest, two weeks with our nearest and dearest sounds like heaven but, when reality hits, it may not be quite the paradise we’d envisioned! You’re human and you’ll need head space, so grab your book and head to a coffee shop, enabling you to come back recharged and ready to relish your family’s company again!

This article was written by Steve Chamberlain, a Life Coach based in Chislehurst. If you’re looking for a unique Christmas present for a loved one this year, then Steve’s On Purpose masterclass taking place on the evening of Thursday 7 February might be just the thing! This 90-minute masterclass will share the five steps to finding and living your purpose, and could be ideal for any friends of family members who aren’t excited about what 2019 has in store. Book before 31 December to benefit from a 20% discount, making this just £24.

Steve Chamberlain delivers masterclasses and 1:1 coaching to help people create and lead extraordinary lives. Visit www.stevechamberlain.co.uk or email hello@stevechamberlain.co.uk to find out more.