Christmas is coming up! The big day of the year is drawing near.

As every and each year, the holiday season is the period of stress. There are so many things to do and limited time to do them in. While Christmas is known as “the season to be happy,” it can be a significant source of stress, pressure, and conflict for many of us. Some people can feel overwhelmed by overload and, expectations and become discouraged during the holidays.

Luckily a couple of weeks before Christmas the feast of Saint Lucia reminds us that beyond this stressful period and moreover, beyond the darkness of winter, at the end of the tunnel, there is always a light of hope. In the old almanack, Lucia Night was the longest of the year, Actually, the winter solstice on the 21st is the longest night, but the 13th is the day when the sun sets earliest. At this darkest time of the year, the Lucia festival is a source of light and happiness in the Scandinavian countries.

Surprisingly, the legend of this Scandinavian feast day came not from this region, but from Sicily, here in Italy. Born in the late third century, Lucia is the patron saint of the blind and is associated with light, right down to her name (Lucia derives from “lux,” the Latin word for light).  In some regions of Italy, there is the tradition of the letter written to the Saint to receive gifts. The little ones have to go to bed early and leave some food for Saint Lucia and hay for the donkey who drives his cart. After the death, according to legend, the Saint was authorized to return to Earth to bring joy to the children on the night of December 13th.

Light is the symbol of life and joy ~ Honoré de Balzac

So, what we could do to enjoy the Light and the happiness of the holiday season and not be overwhelmed? Here a list of tips you could try:

Make a list and pick and choose your Christmas Activities

It works for Santa and it will work for you. List the things you have to do to prepare for the holiday season, such as gift shopping, and the things you want to do, such as special holiday baking. Checking items off a list as they are accomplished is satisfying in itself, especially as seeing the number of check marks on the list increase. Pay attention to the activities you put on the list. Often we do what we do during the holiday season just because we always have, turning the month of December into a mad whirl of non-stop Christmas preparations. Do it if you enjoy them, but if you don’t, cut these activities from your list. Each item you eliminate will give you more time to do what you love such as just sitting down by a cosy fire enjoying some Christmas music.

Turn chores into events

Everyone finds some holiday season activities to be tiresome. Transform them into special occasions. For example, make the Christmas baking a family affair involving children or invite some friends over for a tree-trimming night.

Manage expectation

Everyone has an idea in their heads of the perfect holiday, but when reality falls short of the vision, stress can happen. Try to manage expectations with these simple tips.

  • Be realistic: despite your grand plans, no event ever runs seamlessly, and this is also true for holiday celebrations. Rather than accumulating stress along the way from any accident that might occur, view these small troubles as an opportunity to exercise flexibility and resilience. Dinner being 30 minutes late, spilling food on your festive outfit, or having a lop-sided tree could create fond memories for years to come instead to ruin your day.
  • Help children to be realistic: When children get older and start to become more aware of what they want and what their friends have, you can feel pressurized to satisfy their expectations and provide them with the perfect gifts. Help your child to create a wishlist that outlines any present they desire. Make sure they know that they will not receive everything on the list and highlight anything that is not acceptable or obtainable. Remind your child that Christmas is about being together, not a list of presents to tick off a list. Planning fun activities that encourage everyone to come together and have fun can create excitement.
Allow time to relax and enjoy the holiday season

Carrying the world on your shoulders and trying to achieve everything alone during the holidays can take its price on your mind and body. Take the time to go for a walk and enjoy the incredible displays of Christmas lights, attend a special holiday concert, or just take a long hot bath. Focus on doing something that you find relaxing to recharge your batteries, such as reading a book, watching a Christmas movie, listening to music, or going for a massage.  Your Christmas stress will drop considerably.

Have some fun

As you decorate the tree or bake festive cookies, forget all the items left on your to-do list and give yourself permission to have fun. Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and also releases endorphins. Laughter also boosts circulation, helps muscles relax. Whether your laughter is powered by funny moments in your favourite movie, jokes at the dinner table, a holiday prank, or an afternoon of fun activities, be sure to include some holiday humour, giggles, and laughs. Finding positive, healthful ways to manage stress can enable you to have a stress-free Christmas.