The shopping, the cooking, the presents... and then all those parties crammed into a single fortnight... If Christmas is your stress peak, try Jane Alexander’s clever tips for a little festive peace and goodwill
How come a festival celebrating the birth of Christ has ended up becoming the most stressful period of the year? What do you really want? Do you really love the big production or would you rather plump for ‘ Silent Night’? What makes your heart sink? Figure out simple changes that would make Christmas work better for you. If it’s something you can’t change, then at least admit the problem. Then you won’t feel quite so resentful. (€ 16.67), which ‘can reduce the duration of influenza symptoms from an average of six days to 48 hours’, says Shabir Daya. Elderberries are fascinating — they appear to work by knocking off the spikes that a virus uses to attach itself to healthy cells. Sambucol is also safe for children (they just take a lower dose). And as a bonus, it tastes gorgeous. Put some tea lights in little jam jars, placed on a pretty mirror to reflect even more light. If you’re feeling artistic, you can decorate them with stained-glass paint (from craft shops) or simply stick on sequins for extra sparkle. Avoid synthetically scented candles — try Neom’s gorgeous candles instead, including the festive Christmas Wish (€52, available from Brown Thomas or mail order from neomorganics.com). Or pop some cinnamon essential oil on pine cones and settle them on your radiators to release that Christmassy scent. sparkly scarves and wow-factor nail polish. Ring the changes for each party and you’re sorted.
Fitness tends to go out the window come December. Okay, so you might not make it to the gym but do make time to pull on a fleece and go for a swift walk. Research shows that a daily 15-minute walk is as effective as tranquillisers for reducing anxiety and keeping spirits high. If you’re partying, haul yourself onto the dance-floor — dancing is a proven mood-booster.