There’s no denying that as well as being the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas can also be the most stressful. Endless socialising, entertaining, and navigating family life can take its toll, no matter how much we are looking forward to it.

Wellbeing expert Eve Menezes Cunningham, author of 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing, gives us her top tips for minimising stress and anxiety over the holidays.

Remember Festive Stress is Completely Normal

“We're still living through a global pandemic so the usual Christmas stresses may feel amplified with so much uncertainty and potential risk to you and your loved ones' health,” says Eve. “Know that feeling stressed and anxious is completely normal and natural. Use your feelings to help you create a celebration that works for you here in 2021, instead of trying to replicate something that not only feels potentially dangerous but that also doesn't appeal. If you’re massively missing all the ‘peopleyness’ of normal a Christmas, honour this sense of loss and the sadness of not being able to see so many loved ones. Let yourself feel all your feelings. Make time to journal or chat to loved ones as a way to process things”.

Don’t Let ‘Self Care’ Routines Cause More Anxiety

“When you think about putting a good self care routine in place, please pause and consider what this means for you,” Eve advises. “There's no point putting yourself under even more pressure by thinking you need to #SelfCare like your favourite Insta people. Add one thing at a time. It might be going to bed a little earlier (or getting up a little earlier). It may be adding one more serving of fruit and veg to your day. It may be making time for friends. It may mean ensuring you have some time completely alone. Think of one tiny thing that you smile at the idea of and start there.”

Dealing With Difficult Family Members

“Where it's impossible to avoid spending time with, or having to host people you find challenging, make sure you have something to look forward to once they've gone,” suggests Eve. “Set clear boundaries around the meal or visit, so it doesn't expand into the whole day. Make it as brief as possible and dilute it as much as possible with delightful guests who'll support you in managing any difficult behaviour. Remind yourself that it's OK to feel whatever it is you're feeling and be as gentle, kind and supportive with your own self as humanly possible.”

And Remember...

“There's no such thing as a perfect Christmas, and especially not during a pandemic. Think about what quality you would like to feel this year - peace? Love? Joy? Gratitude? Simplicity? Abundance? Healing? Something completely different? Let this help guide you to a Christmas you'll not just endure, but benefit from.”