Some claim that pre-Christmas stress reaches its peak on 24 December at 2:33 pm. Some, regardless of the peak, consider these Christmas holidays a source of concern. Women, above all: only 25% of them feel these holidays are relaxing (according to a study of the American Psychology Association). On the other hand, the stress calendar affects men much less, considering that 41% of them feel serene over the Christmas period.

The major drivers of pre-Christmas stress are last-minute shopping, organising lunches and gatherings (this year, this will be happening a lot less, though), having to wrap up all the presents, the impossibility of relying on one’s partner and problems sorting out the space in the fridge. An escalation that must be killed in the crib, months in advance, but which may be remedied even when we’re on the brink of the holidays, preventing it from reaching its zenith.

If you’re one of those who waits for the so-called Panic Saturday (the Saturday before Christmas) to go shopping for presents and to organise lunches and dinners, you may want to know that the British research institute Sensum has measured stress levels in the main shopping streets: the madding crowd, feeling under pressure because you must find the right gift and meet your budget, queuing at the cashier’s desk, all make your hear rate spike, reaching 130 bpm.

It is therefore best to get organised: set your shopping days and hours well in advance and consider buying the same present for several people. This is possible when the recipients don’t know one another and it’s something that will definitely save you time and make your shopping list shrink. Another trick is to buy a few extra items, such as a box of chocolates or a pack of tea: they might come in handy if you have overlooked someone or if an acquaintance were to show up with an unexpected gift.

Avoid ending up with a pile of presents on your table on Christmas eve. You surely won’t be in the mood for wrapping them up. Whenever possible, have them wrapped up at the shop. Make sure you always have wrapping paper, scotch tape and ribbons in the house, so that you won’t have to go out for a last-minute buy.

You don’t have to do everything by yourself. You can ask your partner or your children to help, when they are old enough. First of all, share out the tasks ahead of the countdown: you may ask your partner to look for special offers on the Internet. Get your children to help you with the decorations: it makes everyone more light-hearted and makes the moment magical and creative.

Over to Christmas lunch or dinner. In 2020, we’ll be sitting at the table with very few people, but it is always best to get properly organised. Once you have decided what you’re cooking, make a list of what you need: the number of helpings, the ingredients you must buy, broken down into two columns – fresh products and preserved products – the wines, the cooking tools and the table decorations. That should avoid you finding yourself missing something when preparing the meal.

Finally, bear this in mind: while it may look like some sort of marathon, Christmas is a feast. Aside from organising everything, find a way to limit stressful events. A good solution is to do all you can to preserve your energies: don’t get obsessed with the idea of a perfect organisation, avoid leaving everything to the last minute and try to go to bed early. Above all, don’t neglect yourself: you deserve some quality time. If you get the impression that you can’t get enough time for yourself over the holidays, consider all those things (such as social media browsing, watching cartoons or falling asleep while watching television) that take away precious time you could put to good use for your wellbeing.

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