Have you ever stopped to think about just how stressful Christmas can be? In theory, it’s supposed to be the time of year when we’re all winding down, taking time-off, travelling and celebrating with friends and family.
But in reality, Christmas also brings a fair amount of stress. So instead of financial advice, I thought I might use this blog to share a few of my recommendations for staying calm and mentally healthy this silly season…
Getting flustered over family
For some people, spending time with family is stressful. Especially if you don’t see each other very often during the year. One thing that can come up is what to do when parents are getting older. Siblings might hold a grudge about having to care for an elderly parent, or there could be an argument looming over an estate.
My advice is: don’t talk family business over the Christmas table!
Instead, if there are some serious discussions looming, make a time in the not too distant future to meet and talk with the relevant parties. Send out a calendar invite and explain why you want to catch up. Then you’re free at Christmas to focus on the good things and enjoy your time together, because life is definitely short.
Trying to cram everything in
Have you ever heard yourself say: “We should definitely catch up before Christmas!” Around this time, the calendar starts to fill up with lunches, dinner, drinks and Christmas parties and we seem to get busier and busier the closer it gets to December 25th. Throw in Christmas shopping, preparing your house for the relatives (or packing up to go away) and your regular work schedule and you can end up exhausted and burnt out – and who wants to feel like that on their holiday?
Rob and I have definitely been guilty of this one in the past, but the trick is not to overdo it. Yes, it is great that all these people want to catch-up with you, but who says it has to happen before Christmas? There’s plenty of time in the New Year, when you’ll be feeling (hopefully) relaxed and ready for a fresh start. Plus, many businesses don’t start ramping up again until February, so you have a little more freedom to take an early mark or longer lunch in January.
Failing to plan
Is there anything worse than trying to find a last minute gift for that person you just found out is coming to Christmas lunch? Not to mention trying to find a park in any major shopping centre on any weekend from now until mid-February! Holiday queues, grumpy shop assistants, weekend traffic and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas on repeat will drive anyone crazy.
Which is why you need to have a plan.
Get-in and get-out. Decide ahead of time which shops you need to go to, research online, set a budget and stay focused. Even better, order your gifts online so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your office/home. Just make sure you check the delivery times. And to take care of any last-minute surprises, buy one or two generic ‘back-up’ gifts. They might not be super personal but at least no-one will be left out.
My final piece of advice is to take a moment to treat yourself. A nice glass of wine, an afternoon at the beach, a walk around the neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights – whatever you like. Me? I’m going online to buy myself an extra little something to go under the tree!
I also wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all my clients, friends, family and supporters for helping to make this year another memorable one. Best wishes to you all for the festive season.