As it does every year, December has raced past in a most inconsiderate manner. All those preparatory days have gone, and Christmas is waiting excitedly around the corner to rugby tackle us into a world of festive joviality and endless cheese boards. It goes without saying that Christmas is wonderful, but these last few days before it truly gets underway can feel a little stressful at times, and many of us still have a to-do list as long as our arm.
Of course, there will be those of you who graduated with honours from the University of Organisational Wizardry and had everything sorted for Christmas sometime in August last year – but others will be staring down the barrel of last minute shopping and general festive panic. So what do you do when faced with the twelve most stressful things about Christmas? What even are the most stressful things? Look no further than this list for the answers!
There. Are. People. Everywhere.
Usually when you go to the shops there is a normal amount of people in them, but not at Christmastime – then shops are about 98% people, and it’s a nightmare. Oxford Street on Christmas Eve resembles some kind of commercial Mordor, as thousands of people realise they’ve forgotten to get something nice for their sister-in-law and rush out in a tizz and bother. All this is very stressful!
Coping with crowds and not letting things bother you is something which gets easier as we meditate and our stress response isn’t triggered so easily. Take twenty minutes out (perhaps in a coffee shop, or quiet corner at home) to meditate and you will find that you can breeze through the crowds without a hint of bother.
There’s No Time!
Argh how has this happened! There are sprouts to peel, presents to wrap and excitable children to herd into some semblance of order, and no time to do it in! Christmas is an inevitably busy time and every adult will have things to do, from tying up those last loose ends at work to planning a feast for the entire family.
Luckily, however, meditation makes us super efficient and very cool under pressure, so we can swashbuckle our way through that to-do list and defeat every task with aplomb!
Shopping Shopping Shopping
There are those lucky people who seem to be able to step into a shop, glance around and then pick out the most perfect thing within 20 seconds flat. Or even rarer, the virtuosos who can enter a supermarket at 2pm on December 23rd and whizz through collecting sprouts and mince pies without even breaking a sweat. For the rest of us, however, last-minute Christmas shopping is akin to being led by the Duke of Wellington into enemy cannon fire, except without the sense of camaraderie.
Unfortunately, no matter how unmaterialistic we are, Christmas tends to include an element of shopping – bad news for everyone who’d rather be pelted with haggis than step into a shopping centre. But with a meditation session, we can become far more quick-thinking and productive, getting everything we need in double-quick time.
Everyone Has Become A Much Angrier Version Of Themselves
By Christmas Eve, everyone and everything is delightful, wishing each other seasons greetings and being generally glorious. But in the days before the big day – perhaps at that moment when you find yourself eyeing people aggressively because they’ve grabbed the last stilton in Tescos – you realise that Christmas stress can make us pretty angry.
Meditation is a wonderful and soothing thing to do, which will stop any rising irritability and have us feeling much more like ourselves again. And when we feel happy and calm, the people around us start to feel happier and calmer too, and all that built-up frustration simply ebbs away.
Suddenly I’m Popular!
Because humans are lovely sociable creatures, we all like to see each other around Christmas. But between work parties, family gatherings and trying to catch up with friends, things can get pretty busy! Whether it’s feeling overwhelmed by social anxiety, or something as simple as experiencing one too many hangovers, this isn’t always fun – and we can start to feel bogged down by it all.
By helping us see clearly and calmly, meditation makes any social scheduling stress much easier to deal with. It’s also a powerful way to ease our anxiety and grow our confidence, so any social nerves aren’t quite so much of a strain.
Oh Wait, Maybe I’m Not
We’re all so used to being rushed off our feet socialising at this time of year that, in those quiet moments when we are alone, we can feel quite lonely. This is especially true if, for whatever reason, we can’t see friends or family at Christmastime. The atmosphere and expectations of this season can make us keenly aware of any loneliness or disappointment we feel, especially as it seems as if everyone else is enjoying themselves.
Sadness around the festive season is common, especially as we get older and the nostalgia of Christmases past sharpens the ache of old griefs, and family dynamics change and evolve. Meditation is a comforting self-care practice that lets us acknowledge our feelings of sadness and loneliness without becoming overwhelmed by them.
It’s So Much Harder to Clean
There are decorations in every corner of the house, everything is in chaos, and the time and inclination to tidy up are simply non-existent. We have lots to do and little time to do it in, so getting stuck into the cleaning doesn’t seem all that appealing – even if your dirty laundry could fill the Grand Canyon and the carpet has become a scientifically fascinating ecosystem.
When all we want to do is collapse into a heap of tinsel, meditation provides a real boost to our energy levels and will kick-start our motivation to get everything done.
Why Is It So Cold and Dark Outside?
After many years, it’s become clear that having a white Christmas is about as likely as the Queen declaring a one-woman war with Finland, and it tends to be rather cloudy and rainy this time of year. Many of us are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, while many others simply don’t enjoy the cold and wet, and we can all start to feel a bit miserable during winter.
The hormonal imbalances which are exacerbated by lack of light are greatly reduced by regular meditation, helping us keep a sunny disposition all year round.
Driving, Flying, Catching the Train
Getting home for Christmas is the subject of lots of festive films and songs, and there’s a good reason for that. With our roads, train stations and airports subject to a mind-boggling hubbub at this time of year, even a simple journey can feel like an epic saga. Friday 21st in the busiest travel day of the year, and people are often subject to delays and cancellations which pretty much kills any festive joy they may have been feeling.
While circumstances like these are always going to be annoying, the fact that we can meditate anywhere means that we can find some rest even when we’re sitting in a hectic airport lounge – so we can get home for Christmas and into the embrace of our loved ones without threatening to explode with irritation on the way.
Words by Holly Ashby