Christmas Is A Marathon

Christmas Is A Marathon

10 Tips To Remain Calm & Embrace The Season 

Christmas celebrations in western culture have become a seasonal marathon, rather than a single eventful day. It’s time to do your warm up, and stretches.

Not everyone has fond memories of the season and it’s a massive trigger for anxiety, overwhelm and panic. I’m witnessing stress seeping through the cracks of people everywhere. 

If you’re nodding your head, that your own internal furnace has started to warm, then you’re not alone. I often remind my audience that modern Christmas has become a season of events. You need to warm up and figure out ways to pace yourself.

There are ‘breakup’ parties for everything from work, to kids sport, the school year and family gatherings. Why are you breaking your neck to try and fit in gatherings with people whom you don’t spend quality time with throughout the year? Why is so much emphasis placed on the tradition of the season, when no other ritual is honoured? 

When you research the actual intended meaning of Christmas, it was intended to be a celebration of life. This infers a single gift experience, rather than filling the boot of your car or maxing out the credit card.

If you’re already in overwhelm from hearing ‘Jingle Bells’ playing in the shopping plaza, then here are my simple tips to help you embrace the Christmas season and stay calm!

1. Remember to breath! 

Get your nervous system into a calm and relaxed state before you leave the house. Be sure to invest ten minutes whilst getting ready, and practice your self caring soothing ritual such as meditative breathing that incorporates grounding and centering yourself.

2. Start everything a little earlier! 

Don’t wait until the last minute to do your holiday shopping, decorating, cleaning, food preparation or cooking. Be sure to carve out time in the diary to happily complete each task in order to avoid that pressure sensation from running.

3. Set realistic expectations 

Gift yourself permission that nothing needs to be perfect, it simply needs to be enjoyable. Remind yourself of the true meaning of the season is to spend time with loved ones, not having a picture-perfect home or meal. 

Sometimes the biggest food flops create the most hilarious memories and photos — just ask my brother who set fire to the meat one year and we ate Christmas lunch five hours late!

4. Make quality not quantity the priority in your schedule. 

Given this time of year feels like a marathon, it’s important to create a pace that doesn’t involve you running around like a panicked elf on Christmas Eve.

According to the American Heart Association, research inexplicably highlights that heart attacks are more common during holidays. There are a myriad of possible reasons including unhealthy changes in diets, higher alcohol consumption, stress from family interactions, strained finances, travel and entertaining can all contribute to health impacts.

I have come to learn the importance of the festive season can be spread out over the entire summer holidays. This means that I never rush from one event to another. 

I experience a quality connection with people that I value. There is mutual respect for the meal prepared and shared. There is an calm energy exchange of love. Why would you settle for anything less than this?

5. It’s ok to say “no”

Given that the season is a marathon, it’s vital to continue to make time for rest and regeneration. And depending on the type of job you do like teaching, retail, rest is life saving!

Don’t feel pressured to attend every party or event. Negotiate when you are available, and create space to welcome the connection, not dread having to show up and perform for multiple events on the same day.

You’re an adult. Regardless of who is attempting to guilt you into showing up, your health and wellbeing will always be more important. Think of this as your permission to simply say “no thanks”.

6. Do not embrace guilt

I think we all have a family member or friend who tries to manipulate at this time of the year, in order to get what they want. I invite you to try something different this year. 

When you respond “no thanks” to an invitation, take a deep breath and smile. This will subconsciously generate endorphins that make you feel good. Don’t say anything! Not a single word! Simply pause your end of the conversation, breath slowly, and observe. Watch or listen for any reaction and know that this is not yours to deal with.

If your response is not accepted, that’s perfectly ok. You don’t have to agree on everything. But if you’re not free (or willing), then the fact is you’re not available. End of story.

You can be cheeky like me, and ask for the person’s magic time machine, so that you can teleport and be in two places at once. Be warned this can piss people off.

The ideal alternative response, is to advise when you are free, after Christmas has passed and the world has calmed it’s farm. If the caller doesn’t like, that’s not your bag of monkeys to manage. Continue to breath and celebrate your decision to maintain your wellbeing.

7. Learn to negotiate terms

Managing relationships requires decent communication skills. The ever evolving dynamics of family gatherings during the festive season, can escalate to UN hostage negotiation skills. It’s often delicate work.

Negotiation skills are fabulous when dealing with those who believe they are ‘golden’, those who hold grudges or unhealed emotional wounds, and those who struggle to communicate their needs. Negotiation is also a skill that is especially helpful when trying to embrace different ways of celebrating the season with the in-laws.

8. Learn to take turns

I wonder how much easier it might be to plan your family gathering if you had a roster of where and when you gather? If you took Christmas day off the table, and gather the extended family together on a different day, could you all then make the effort? Might that make life easier?

Since the death of my mother, trying to get everyone together at Christmas time has been a dismal failure. We’ve settled for an annual long weekend in September school holidays.

Weird? Yes, but this one weekend at another time of the year means we eat normally, rather than spend a fortune on gifts and food. Our presence is the gift. We walk, talk, play board games and graze over beautiful food.

This new tradition has become something to look forward to each year without stress or fuss.

9. Stick to a budget

It’s obvious that overspending leads to stress and anxiety, especially in this economy. But when it comes to the festive season, all fiscal rules seem to fly out the window.

So set yourself a budget, and utilise the challenge of what bargains you can obtain by sticking to the limit. There is an alternative, and that is the gift of experience like a family zoo pass.

For those who maintain the argument, “I just want my kids to have what I didn’t”, I want to ask you this — what was really wrong with your upbringing that you felt you missed out? And more importantly, is buying your kids stuff really a replacement for your love and affection?

10. Simplify everything

One of the best things I’ve come to realise is that you have to do everything yourself. Delegate tasks or simplify your holiday traditions to make things easier. 

For example, let the kids decorate the tree, make home made Christmas cards, bake cookies or create the deserts. Ask guests to bring contributions to your gathering meal like a desert, nibbles or drinks.


By following these tips, you can manifest calm into your Christmas season whilst managing moments of overwhelm or stress. Remember it’s a season, and just like running a marathon, it’s important to remain in the moment and savor the special moments with loved ones. 

First published with Illumination, a Medium Publication. Click here this piece.

Want to read more like this?

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About Karen

Change Facilitator

Karen Humphries is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Kinesiology Practitioner, Health & Business Coach, LEAP & NES Practitioner, Intuitive Meditation Facilitator, and published author. She is a self-confessed laughaholic.  She loves being of service to the world with her humorous and positive approach to life, encouraging people to ‘choose to change and bloom from within.’ 

Karen Humphries, Change Chick, Change Facilitator, Kinesiology, Wellness Coach, Australian Bush Flower Essences, LEAP Facilitator, Trauma, Public Speaker, Cancer Ambassador, Blooming From Within, Traralgon, Victoria, Gippsland