It’s that time of year again – a mix of panicking and stressing, chilling and reflecting. Where did the last 12 months go? The mad rush into Christmas has begun – presents, food, travel, and picking up relatives. But why does a time meant for joy with family and friends become so stressful and anxiety-inducing? If you’re feeling the pressure, maybe it’s time for a different approach.

After the whirlwind of the past year and the ones before it, let’s give ourselves a break. Take the stress out of Christmas and do things that bring you joy. If stress is your idea of fun, then go for it. But for everyone else, let’s make a pact to take some time for ourselves during this season and avoid unnecessary stress.

If you anticipate a stressful situation, either find a way to avoid it or limit your exposure. Christmas should be about fun, relaxation, and enjoying good times. Instead of working yourself up, focus on chilling out. If someone questions the dryness of the turkey or the cost of the gift, just smile and remind them it’s time to relax – you don’t need negative energy.

This season can also be a time for reflection. Consider the highs and lows of the past year, focusing on what you’ve learned rather than just what you’ve achieved. Extract lessons from both successes and failures. Look ahead to the future – your goals for the next 12 months in work, career, finances, hobbies, health, and skills. Think about how you can support those around you.

Rather than making New Year’s resolutions that rarely last beyond January, try scheduling regular self-check-ins every two or three months. Identify a few achievable changes you’d like to see over the next year. Avoid setting yourself up for failure with impossible tasks.

Most importantly, whether your time away from work involves family organizing and cooking or moments of reflection, focus on enjoying it. Don’t stress about small delays or forgotten details. The time spent with family and friends, the laughter, and the memories are what truly matter. These moments recharge and refocus us on the important things in life.