It's important to mind the ‘F’ word if you want to be stress-free this Christmas.
I know what you are thinking.
But what I mean by the ‘F’ word is finance and family, which I have found to be the most significant source of stress at this festive time.
A survey by Relationships Australia found Christmas time to be one of the six most stressful life events — along with divorce, moving house and changing jobs — and 65 per cent of the respondents declared Christmas shopping as downright stressful.
With the festive season in full swing, and everyone busy getting the decorations up and drafting the shopping list, it sounds like fun to some.
Still, for many others, it can be a time of considerable stress and anxiety.
Christmas time can bring unrealistic expectations of joy, which can see you regretting the whole idea if you don’t handle it with a dose of consciousness.
Here are my top six tips to have a stress-free Christmas:
MAKE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
Before you start, evaluate how much money you have and what you can afford to spend on shopping.
While it is tempting to buy that barbecue while it is on sale, ask yourself if you really need it.
Shopping for deals mindlessly will see you annoyed and dealing with junk in the new year — let alone an aching wallet.
It’s simple. If you don’t need or can't afford it, don’t buy it.
INVOLVE THE FAMILY IN FINANCIAL PLANNING
Just because your boy asks for an Xbox does not mean he should get it.
Involving kids in family finances is an excellent exercise to teach them financial literacy and instil the virtue of delayed gratification.
Open up your internet banking and share with your partner and kids what you have and discuss how much you can afford to spend.
While this can be hard to do, you will be surprised by what it can do to bond as a family.
You don’t become a super mum, dad or grandparent by buying kids whatever they want. You become one by being honest, open and vulnerable.
Family members can be annoying just as they can be fun. Being related to someone doesn’t guarantee you get along.
Family conflict and feuds can surface when relatives converge and can ruin the whole experience.
Avoid bringing up sensitive topics and focus on having a great time.
If you find someone is getting under your skin, take a deep breath and walk away.
It is unlikely any meaningful resolution will occur by engaging in a sore discussion.
AVOID OVERINDULGENCE BY PRACTISING MINDFULNESS
When food and alcohol are aplenty, it’s easy to overindulge.
Eat and drink mindfully — reaching for another serving will almost always leave you feeling worse off.
If the food or grog is too good to miss, try spacing it out by taking breaks; that way your body gets time to process what you have consumed, avoiding being stuffed or intoxicated.
REACH OUT TO OTHERS
If you find yourself lonely and have no-one to share Christmas with, understand that’s okay too.
Try not to drown yourself in self-pity.
Take action and get involved by approaching the council, the local church or work colleagues.
Reaching out to others is your best chance to connect with people in your community.
Meaningful human connections are vital for mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.
MEDITATE TO OVERCOME STRESS
Pain from tragic life events like death, divorce or broken relationships can resurface during the Christmas season.
Practising mindfulness meditation is a great stress management tool you can use to overcome damaging thought patterns that lead to anxiety and depression.
When your thoughts spin out of control, anchoring your mind to the breath and being present in the moment, works like Christmas magic.
Just mind the ‘F’ word and you’ll be right.
Aneesh Jolly is a registered nurse with a passion for meditation. He writes a regular blog with meditation advice.