With 3 days to go, Christmas is definitely in the air. For many, Christmas is 'the most wonderful day of the year'. But... it is so easy to get overwhelmed. We want to do our best to enjoy the festive season. We try to make it magical for our kids (have the elves been moved today? Which Santa grotto is the best to take kids to? Which Panto show is the best to go to? How can I attend all Christmas shows, fairs and carol singing that my child participates in while working full time?) We want to buy the best gifts we can find for the money we can afford to spend. We want to have a perfectly organised house and cook the best meal of the year. And just when we think we are getting there, something else comes up and we feel like we are losing control and can't cope anymore. So, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed at Christmas time? Here are some things that might help:

1. Ditch perfectionism. It's the time to enjoy, not the time to suffer. House is not as spotless as you wanted it to be? No, and? Sprouts are overcooked? So what? The colour of the ribbon does not match the colour of the wrapping paper? Does it matter, it'll be in the bin at the end of the day. Don't put yourself under stress to make things perfect. Good enough is good enough.

2. Think about it. You've been here before. Overwhelmed, tired and losing control. And everything went well. The family was happy, the meal was great and gifts were appreciated. No one's complained. What makes you think that this year will be different?

3. Make sure you get regular breaks. Going on without rest is not going to make things better for anyone. But it will make things more manageable if you rest enough and have higher energy levels, because then you'll get more done.

4. While on the topic of higher energy levels, it's the season to meet with friends, to celebrate, to eat and drink a lot. Try make sure you sleep enough, stay hydrated and eat well whenever you can.

5. Home-made may be the best for some people, but if there is too much to do and you are running out of time, get ready-made food. There is no enjoyment in being stressed and tired on Christmas eve/day.

6. If you are stressed, it can easily trigger anxiety and depression. Food, presents, parties, presence at events... All of these are extras that we have to spend time preparing for, going to, being present at. If things become too much, reach out to someone: a friend, a relative, a therapist. Call Breathing Space on 0800838587 or Samaritans on 116123, if a therapist not available.

7. To de-stress, go out, get some fresh air. Stop and thing about what you have. After all, Christmas is about taking a moment to appreciate what we have, be thankful for everything big and small that make us happy.

May this holiday season be peaceful for you all.

Merry Christmas
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