Modern Dilemmas: Plan ahead and allow yourself some time amid the festive rush

Have your say

Dear Alex, I am getting very stressed out in the run up to Christmas. Work is busy, but I also have to buy presents, get the food shopping done and get the house ready. It’s supposed to be a time of joy and yet I am feeling really stressed.

The run-up to Christmas can be stressful with all the last-minute rush. Here are ways to relieve stress and have a good time.

Budgeting and spending: Avoid the financial worry by planning Christmas spending the same way you plan the rest of your finances. If you don’t have enough cash, slash your budget to match your resources.

Children: Late nights and other Christmas activities can take their toll on children, teenage or young adults. Take it easy on them. Instead of losing your temper over their whining, quarrelling or unruly behaviour, suggest an occasional quiet activity for an hour or so. For smaller kids, trade baby-sitting with a friend or relative so that you each can have some time for focused shopping, cooking, or other chores.

Eating: Eat well and properly. Shopping, running around, and even worrying can drive you to skip meals. Poor nutrition can lead to stress. Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice tend to boost levels of our brain’s natural upper. Have a piece of toast or a bowl of pasta, but go easy on the creamy sauces, as well as the festive drinks.

Preparation: Prepare as much food ahead of time as possible. Some can be prepared earlier and frozen for two or three weeks.

Household: Avoid playing “super” by trying to do everything perfectly. An over-baked chocolate cake or not properly lighted and well-decorated Christmas tree will not make Christmas a disaster.

Sleeping: Get enough sleep. Too many late nights, including Christmas concerts, cooking and wrapping of gifts will seriously deplete ability to handle multi-tasking, which might cause unnecessary stress.

Mailings – Christmas packages and cards: Save trips to the post office. It greatly helps if the list of your recipients (with items to be sent) is prepared ahead of time. Enter the addresses of everybody to whom you’re sending cards into your home computer. Print addresses onto sheets of peel-and-stick labels.

Shopping: Try a one-stop shop, as much as possible. Maybe this is the year everybody in the family gets books, or clothes, or CDs. Shop when there is less of a crowd. Consider gift certificates or shop online. Set a self-imposed deadline by which you have shopped, decorated and wrapped. This way you can have a few days’ buffer. And, have fun!