Dr Karen Philip Says ‘Don’t Let Christmas Stress Spoil The Season’

Dr Karen Phillip

Psychologist and Health contributor

Dec 01, 2021

The holiday season is the season of stress. There are just so many things to do with limited time to do them in. Purchasing the gifts is number one followed by arranging the day and everything needed for it. Financially it can be the most stressful time of the year. There is a way to lower this stress level.

Research has found that Christmas is the sixth-most stressful event people will encounter in their lives. The other five include death, weddings, child birth and moving. The challenges of working at this busy time, coupled with shopping, travel and family obligations, can make the season exceptionally difficult.

It takes weeks or even months to plan, then we usually find the week or two prior to Christmas, there is a rush or panic. This is often then followed by months of financial stress as we have overspent. The season just continues for months into the new year. Too many people suffer needless and avoidable Christmas stress, why not this year give yourself a break?

A Guide For Christmas Orphans: Celebrate This Day With Others

The following are some Top Tips to Avoid the Stress so you can actually enjoy the festive season.

       1) Prepare a financial budget

Calculate the money you can afford on gifts, alcohol and food. Figure out how much you can afford to spend all up and set a repayment plan on your credit card and understand the amount you can afford to spend. If you prepare, you are ready.

       2) Organise a list of gifts for each person and money for each item

Instead of spending hours wondering what to buy, sit down to make a list of gifts for each person. Determine the money needed for each item and only purchase items up to the value you have allocated. Take your list to the store and stick to it. This is so important because if we just go shopping with an idea, we usually end up with far more than anticipated along with spending more than calculated.

       3) Decide on Christmas breakfast, lunch, dinner

Having to fit in all family members can be a real stress and challenge. Figure out where each meal will occur, what you need to purchase, what others can be allocated to bring. Order in advance and get groceries delivered where possible. Sort out early where you will and won’t go to avoid family conflict. Consider spreading your Christmas Day over two or three days so you can comfortably see everyone and spend some quality time with them instead of rushing in and out on the day.

       4) Engage help

Who says you personally have to wrap all Christmas gifts, do all the baking and preparing. Think about how much your time (and sanity) is worth. Use your partner and family where you can. Pace it out such as a Xmas wrapping night for extended family member’s / friend’s gifts, decoration day, baking day, cleaning day. Everyone should become involved.


       5) Break the Christmas gift shopping congestion

You don’t have to take the time to drive anywhere to shop if you don’t want to. Buy and order online. In many cases, your gifts will then be delivered right to your home – or to the home of the recipient. Shop after hours to avoid the traffic and people congestion. Often closer to Christmas shops are open extended hours, use these extended hours to avoid the mad day time rush and traffic.

       6) Slow down

You don’t need to shop, decorate, bake, organise all in the same day or week. Spread it out to manageable levels and take the pressure off you. Start early December and set an organised timetable of what to do and when. This can take considerable pressure off you. If you are going to someone’s for Christmas arrange what it is you need to prepare and take or make a list for those attending your place. Preplanning is essential.

     7) Take time to relax and enjoy the festive season into your schedule.

Take the time to drive around and enjoy the incredible displays of Christmas lights, attend a Christmas event, or just take a long hot bath. Your Christmas stress will drop considerably. This is a festive time for Everyone, you are part of everyone so ensure you afford yourself some time to stop and enjoy the season.

Remember, it is not etched in stone that the day or season must be perfect. Take some pressure off yourself and do what you can and let others participate as well. It is a time to share the joys or seeing others you may not get to spend time with during the year, rather than about the meal or that small gift you have purchased. Enjoy the season!!!


By Dr Karen Phillip

Psychologist and Health contributor

Dr Karen Phillip is a counselling psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist specialising in parenting and relationships. The widely respected author of “Who Runs Your House, the kids or you?’ and ‘OMG We’re Getting Married’ is also in demand as a speaker and regularly appears on TV and radio.



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