Young people * Women's health * Men's health * 50+ health * Healthy living * Mental wellbeing

How to manage Christmas stress

Manage the holiday stress Handy tips for staying sane!

The holidays are supposed to be a time of good cheer, surrounded by family and copious amounts of food and drink.

Alas, the pressures of gift shopping, overeating, drinking and family dynamics often conspire to raise our stress levels, ruining festivities for all involved.

We've compiled a handy guide to navigating the treacherous holiday waters and having a stress-free time.

Manage expectations

Spending money is a prime cause of stress. Children often do not have realistic expectations about gifts, and parents often feel bound to deliver on the extensive shopping list, fearing disappointment.

By all means, be generous, but if a gift is a stretch, be open with your children about its cost, and find a reasonable alternative.

Manage your shopping

Do not leave the gift buying to the morning of the 24th! You've still got a few days left until Christmas - make a list, and resolve to buy your gifts soon. Organise an outing, and buy as many as you can. This will still leave you some time to buy the last few gifts on the list.

A perfect gift may exist, but a good one will be fine too - especially if looking for the perfect gift is a source of stress.

Keep things in perspective

The kids are fighting, the batty aunt has passed out in the kitchen, the dog has chewed your Christmas gift - take it in stride, if you can. It shall pass, but the memory of a family event ruined by fighting will stay.

Be grateful for what you have and the people you hold dear.

Manage your eating and drinking

It's tempting to indulge at the Christmas dinner and have a few glasses of bubbly - and so you should. But be sensible about it. Overeating and drinking will tax you physically, which in turn will make you more prone to stress.

Manage your events

Do not over do it with big events - unless you are sure you can cope just fine. Unless you've cooked for 25 people before without a glitch, the experience will probably be traumatic. Be sensible. You are supposed to enjoy the festivities, not be a slave to them.

Find activities that work for the family as a whole - it should be doable one or two days a year.

Share your concerns

If you're feeling overwhelmed by events, share your worries with your partner, or someone you can confide in - it's good to talk! A problem shared is a problem halved!


Getting out of the house and going for a long walk will clear the mind and get the blood flowing after all the heavy food - and it will get you away from the feuding relatives!

This article was published on Mon 20 December 2010

Image © deanm1974 -

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