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10 tips to keep you stress-free this Christmas

Have you got lost somewhere in one of your lists – here are some practical tips to help you through the holiday season.

Tracy Gunn

CHRISTMAS – THE MOST wonderful time of the year.

A time for counting blessings and spending time with those we love. Or does it feel more like a time for rushing around, last minute panic-buying and becoming more frazzled as each door of the advent calendar opens?

For a lot of the mums that we work with at Mumager, Christmas can feel like another list of ‘things to do’.

So, if you need to find your Christmas sparkle, but it’s got lost somewhere in one of your lists, here are some practical tips to help you through the holiday season:

1. Practice gratitude

Take a moment to stop and look around at what you have. Focusing on what you do have rather than what you don’t have has been proven to make us feel happier and less stressed. When we step back we remember that Christmas isn’t a happy time for everyone and we have so much the thankful for.

shutterstock_269901755 Source: Shutterstock/Gustavo Frazao

2. Set your intention ‘if…..then…’

Research shows that the average family has five arguments on Christmas Day – from ‘wrong’ presents to stressing over dinner. Bringing lots of people together, adding in too much food, alcohol, lots of mess, and the pressure of doing everything ‘right’ is a recipe for full-blown fallout.

This year, however, you’re going to have an argument-free day. You’re going to do this by firstly identifying your pressure points. What’s going to bug you? It could be from not enough help in the kitchen to comments about your choice of gift e.g. ‘If Great-Aunt June says….’ Then, instead of snapping, you’re going to plan your response e.g. ‘Then I will take a deep breath, smile and turn away’. Self-regulation is like a muscle, the more we exercise it the stronger it gets.

3. Say ‘no’

You don’t have to accept every invitation that comes your way. Prioritise who you want to spend time with and politely decline the other invitations. If you need some tips on saying ‘no’ you can find them here.

4. Stop being a control freak

You don’t have to have your finger in every mince pie. It’s not just you who is responsible for making Christmas happen – it’s a family affair.

Divide chores and conquer Christmas.

I think back to my eldest son’s first Christmas. I got so upset that my husband had gone out and bought his Santa present without asking me.

What on earth was I thinking? The poor guy used his initiative and thought he was helping (which he was).

shutterstock_117984535 Source: Shutterstock/Tatyana Domnicheva

5. The magic of your Christmas

What do you remember about Christmas? I’ll bet it wasn’t how clean the house was or how perfectly your table was laid. The magic of Christmas is spending time with those you love and doing things that make you happy.

My husband and I had very different Christmases growing up. Mine were large, loud affairs full of food and sing-songs. His were smaller and quieter with lots of telly. Now with our own family we’re creating our own Christmas with elements of both our childhoods weaved in.

6. Play to strengths

I love entertaining. I don’t love being stuck in the kitchen whilst my guests are all chatting in another room. I’m also not very good at catering for the masses.

So now we order ready-prepared food that we simply pop in the oven. It’s not as expensive as you might think, and nothing goes to waste. Don’t be a slave to the kitchen if it’s not your thing.

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7. Accept and ask for help

When guests offer to help – take them up on it. Not only does it make them feel useful, it takes the burden off you. You don’t have to do everything. Give everyone a role to play – whether it’s clearing the table or taking the kids out in the garden for a run around before dinner. Ask and you shall receive.

8. Prepare the night before

A job that takes 10 minutes at night can take 30 minutes the next day. So whether it’s laying out a nativity outfit or peeling the spuds – get it done the night before.

9. Look after yourself

At this time of year it’s easy to overindulge. Relying on that extra cup of coffee or additional glass of wine can leave us feeling jaded. Look after yourself by drinking lots of water, trying to get some decent sleep, get out in the fresh air and find five minutes away from everyone where you can just sit and breathe.

10. Brush your teeth

No, seriously. There’s no science behind this one, just a tried and tested tip from my big sister. Her house never empties – all year round it’s full of people popping in and she can pull together a meal for the masses out of nothing. When she needs a minute to herself she pops off and brushes her teeth.

Simple – but it works because it’s the one place she won’t get interrupted. It’s also a kind of meditation where she can slow down and focus on something else. It’s become my fail-safe trick too.

Tracy Gunn is from Mumager, which support mums returning to work after maternity leave. You can find out information on upcoming workshops at www.mumager.ie or by emailing info@mumager.ie.

If you’re a working mum and are returning from maternity leave in the New Year, or have been back some time and are thinking about ‘what’s next’ – get in touch at info@mumager.ie. Regular workshops are run throughout the year – with the next one on 2 March 2016. You can get in touch via Facebook, Twitter and the website www.mumager.ie.

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Tracy Gunn

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