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Whether you love or hate Christmas (!), this time of year is traditionally stressful, as everyone puts on their rose tinted spectacles in an attempt to create the “perfect Christmas.” 
 
Add to this the heady mix of unrealistic expectations – fuelled by all the hype in the media for the last few months – relatives you only see once a year and overindulgence. Sadly the results are often far too predictable. 
 
If we’ve been here many times before, why do we allow the same scenes to continue to be replayed year after year? 
 
 
Some people would say it’s down to peer pressure. Of keeping up with the Jones’. 
 
Others that it’s all about survival. That our basic instincts to survive danger kick in and we go on to autopilot. 
 
Either way, it’s become such a part of our culture that we all seem to take it for granted. “That’s just how it is.” 
 
The interesting thing about stress – and how we react to it – is that what’s considered “stressful” varies from person to person. What’s one person’s “enjoyable challenge” is another’s “last straw.” 
 
To our bodies, the cause of stress is irrelevant. The result is the same and can be traced back to our distant ancestors. As we’ve said before, in those far off days life was much simpler. The threat was immediate and life threatening. Often involving something big and hairy with lots of teeth! A short term emergency response was needed. It didn’t matter if huge amounts of energy were burnt up in the process, as the threat would be over and done with – one way or another – in a few minutes. 
 
These days, life is much different. The majority of threats we face aren’t short term. A physical response isn’t required to ensure our survival. 
 
In fact the exact opposite is true. Today’s threats tend to be more insidious – lasting days, weeks, months or years. They are more mental or emotional. While it may be tempting to respond physically – running away, hiding or punching someone on the nose – these usually aren’t an option. This means that the physical “fight of flight” response our body is geared up for, just doesn’t happen. There’s no physical outlet for the stress. 
 
Keeping our bodies on red alert for long periods of time is exhausting – in every way – and depletes our reserves. It’s rather like spending on a credit card – sooner or later the day of reckoning will come. 
 
Seen in this way, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a long list of stress related complaints, which spread through every part of our lives. 
 
So what’s the answer? 
 
Well, sadly, there isn’t a simple “one size fits all” one. And we don’t have a magic wand either. 
 
We’re not going to give you a list of things to do to ensure a “perfect Christmas”. 
 
Or the usual – and often patronising – list of do’s and don’ts. 
 
Instead, here’s a different perspective on this time of year. We’d like to help you take a step back from all the madness. To stop getting caught up in it all. 
 
We know it may be hard but take off your rose tinted spectacles. Ignore the papers and TV. Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’. 
 
Stop trying to make it “perfect” or “right.” Although it’s easy to say – but harder to accept – life just isn’t perfect. 
 
If you have little in common with your relatives for the rest of the year, expecting that everyone is going to be best friends just isn’t realistic. Particularly when huge amounts of food and alcohol are involved. 
 
Does it really matter if you haven’t got this year’s “must have” decorations, christmas pudding or present? 
 
And, if you fancy a completely different take on all the supermarket madness, this lovely – and very short (!) – Cashier Symphony from you tube is well worth two minutes of your time. 
 
So why not change your focus to the things that really matter to you? The things you can do without sending your blood pressure through the roof? 
 
Focus on the positives, however small. Sometimes you’ll have to look hard for them, but they’re always there… 
 
Accept that no one gets it 100% “right” – whatever “right” may be. Just do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up in the process. People will always remember the positive things you did – even under severe provocation – the rest is quickly forgotten. 
 
If you start to feel frazzled, let everyone know before things start to turn nasty. Learn to recognise your warning signs. Whether it’s tense shoulders, irritability, poor sleep or running on caffeine – nicotine or alcohol (!)– be alert to your particular red flags. 
 
Remember that if you’re one of those people who always seem to cope, it may not occur to anyone else that “Mrs – or Mr (!) – Organised” actually needs some help. With everyone busy doing their own thing, they’re probably not going to notice that you’re under strain. So, again, tell them before it turns ugly. 
 
Only deal with things you can realistically do something about. Realistically is the key word here. And then call in reinforcements. It’s not a sign of weakness, but makes perfect sense. Not only does it take things off you plate, but keeps those around you busy – and from getting under your feet… 
 
And, lastly, please remember to look after yourself. We know that we keep saying it but doing those – often boring (!) – common sense things on an ongoing basis makes a huge difference to how you cope. Eat regularly. Cut down the caffeine and drink more water. Get sufficient sleep. Take some time out every day to recharge your batteries, preferably with a dose of fresh air thrown in. 
 
If you’re wanting a little extra help off the shelf our old friend, Rescue Remedy, is brilliant. Vogel’s Passiflora and Avena Sativa tinctures can also provide some ongoing support too. And don’t forget our personal favourite, Triple A. 
 
So what’s it to be? A happy Christmas – or one off the stress scale? 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
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