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Magic spell for a keep-cool Yuletide

Last Updated: 20 January 2019








Magic spell for a keep-cool Yuletide

Let’s face it, Christmas can be pretty stressful. Expectations are high and so are the demands on our time and energy. In the absence of a fairy godmother we must conjure up our own plans for a calm, joyous Noel. Abracadabra!

First and foremost, communication

The Christmas to-do list – shopping, cooking, family commitments – goes on and on and it’s chock-full of potential to IMPOSE. Feeling overburdened can breed resentment which if kept under wraps can build to an often explosive crescendo – often over something inconsequential. You’re overreacting, they cry. That makes it worse. The merest twinge of put-upon-ness is a red alert to talk about it; no matter how great or small the bugbear is, get it off your chest A.S.A.P. A problem shared is a problem dissipated.


Next, money

Christmas is expensive and it can be hard to resist pressures to spend more than we can afford – usually thanks to a mix of deviously persuasive advertisers, the must-have mentality and keeping up with the Jones’s. But a mad five minutes with the credit card can lead to long-term financial problems, worry, guilt and even family breakdown – bang goes a happy new year. Setting a Christmas budget guards against, or at least limits, overspending. Simple controls such as menu planning and lists for food- and present-buying save money, instil order and bring peace of mind.


Now for feel-good giving

Shopping at charity outlets and schools’ or other good-causes’ Christmas fairs is a practical way to do a good deed which is also good news for wellbeing. A pre-Christmas clear-out tidies up the house and the mind – force flatmates/family to help dig out and give away unwanted clothes and belongings to charity. And smiling, saying a kind word and being neighbourly too brings and bestows benefits far in excess of the effort involved.


And finally, stress busters

When tension rises fresh air and activity are the panacea – a five-minute breather in the garden or a stomp around the block can work wonders; it clears the air, and it clears your head.


Equally, when Christmas commitments take priority, it’s better to plan time out from any regular exercise regime than to feel guilty about being unable to keep it up. Instead, factor in walks with family and friends, particularly on and around the big day when pent-up energy might otherwise be channelled into bickering. When weather stops play outdoors, active games such as charades, hide and seek and Twister come to the rescue.


Turn present giving into a treasure hunt and include inexpensive gifts such as kites, skipping ropes or paper planes to get up and go out with on Christmas Day. Aim to put aside work during the holiday, but when this is impossible allocating set times for work will keep the remainder clear for relaxation. Getting enough sleep pays dividends in spades – well rested is well armed for peace and goodwill all round.


Written by Dr. Noel Duncan

Mental health
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