Keeping it together at Christmas

02 Dec, 2016

Christmas is nearly upon us once again and many of us are looking forward to spending time with our family and friends, sharing laughter and gifts, while making fond memories.

However, although it is meant to be a happy and joyful time, for some Christmas can be a stressful and depressing time.

So how can we ensure that we can manage these stresses and enjoy the holiday season?

Tina Gratton, Community Development Officer of Relationships Australia Mandurah said having realistic expectations is the key to negotiating the Christmas season without stress and disappointment.

“The expectation that Christmas will be a joyful season of sharing beautifully cooked food during happy peaceful times with family and friends can be far from the reality,” she said.

“Taking pressure off yourself by planning early and getting help from family and friends might minimise some of the stress of this season.”

The expense of gifts and food and the pressure of shopping can make Christmas an extremely stressful time. Ms Gratton said it can seem like the ‘must have’ gift for the kids gets bigger and more expensive each year, and the pressure parents feel to spend can be immense.

“The last minute rush to buy gifts, decorate the house and cook the turkey while negotiating strained family relationships can be overwhelming.

“It can be a time that highlights relationship problems in families, which can increase a sense of isolation, or cause you to reflect on unfulfilled hopes and dreams.

“But by communicating openly with your family about plans for Christmas, it can encourage everyone to get involved, and appreciate that doing things a little differently this year could help everyone.”

Support services such as mediation and counselling can help people to come up with their own solutions to problems. If Christmas is a particularly painful and difficult time, don’t be afraid to seek professional support.


5 Simple tips on how to keep it together at Christmas

  • Plan ahead! Start making a list of things you need to do for Christmas early - for example, shopping, food and presents, decorations, seating plans or travel arrangements. Make the list as detailed as possible and start as soon as you can.
  • Discuss your Christmas plans as a family, and appreciate that doing things a little differently this year could help everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask your support network for help.
  • Online shopping can be a blessing for working mums and to beat the Christmas crowds. You can shop at 11pm in your pyjamas and visit sites like for unique handmade gifts and for a great range of books with free postage. Food shopping can also be completed online.
  • Keep calm by making time to do things that help you to relax, such as listening to relaxing music, lighting scented candles, taking a bath, or going for a walk. If all else fails, remember to breathe!
  • Be kind to yourself, don’t label yourself as a failure if Christmas does not work out how you planned. Don’t compare yourself and your celebrations with others.
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