"Is anyone else embracing a slow Christmas? While this festive season will be unlike any other, one thing I'm looking forward to is the chance to slow down, snuggle up and switch off without being weighed down by guilt.
Christmas is a magical time but it's busyness, in a normal year, can trigger anxiety for many. In fact, research last year found that over two in five Brits felt stressed during the festive season, while one in four sadly struggled with anxiety or depression.
With just three households" (in England) "allowed to mix and many December events cancelled this year, the usual holiday buzz will be slower than ever. It might feel different, but it's quiet rhythm could pave way for a less stressful season — and may be just what we all need.
Take a look at some of the reasons I'm embracing a slow Christmas this year...
1. There is less pressure
One of the things I'm looking forward to this year is less pressure to attend social events, because, well, there aren't any. From long family get-togethers to office parties, I'm secretly thrilled to have an empty diary. They're great, of course, but a jam-packed week can suck all the joy out of the festive season.
Without added pressure of attending events and parties, I'm planning to make time for things I really want to do. From muddy countryside walks to lazy afternoons watching festive films, soaking up the small things is what makes the season special.
Previous research conducted by Mind suggests I won't be the only one feeling this way. They discovering that over a quarter of us feel under pressure to have the 'perfect' Christmas and that, for 48% of those, it has turned into a seasonal mental health problem. It should be one of the happiest times of the year, but for many, this simply isn't the case.
From financial worries to increased family conflict, the pressure to achieve a 'perfect' Christmas can leave many physically, mentally or emotionally drained.
2. Time to remember what's important
In a normal year, we can get so caught up in the non-stop chaos of Christmas that it's easy to forget what really matters: family, loved ones, health, hope, peace, stillness and joy. Instead of the retail festival it has sadly become, Christmas should be a time of reflection and a chance to gather with those we love (albeit virtually this year).
In the midst of life's obstacles and obligations, do something that will make you smile. For some, it may be the chance to perform random acts of kindness, while for others it may be watching an uplifting virtual carol concert.
Instead of rushing from one family gathering to the next, I'm looking forward to soaking up the small things and having time for myself.
Why not make a list of all the things you'd like to do this Christmas? It could be trying a new hobby (such as knitting, writing, drawing or baking), finishing a book, organising your wardrobe or heading out for long countryside rambles. Slowing down and soaking up may just help in these times of great uncertainty.
4. Less pressure to spend
I love to buy for others, but often fall victim to purchasing gifts just for the sake of it. Unlike other years, I've made more of an effort to shop locally, support small business and buy what I only really need to this Christmas.
Some of things I'm doing differently include making homemade mince pies to gift to friends, purchasing 100% recyclable cards and buying distant loved ones practical gifts, such as experiences they can enjoy next year.
Previous research conducted by the Money Advice Trust discovered that one in four of us feel pressured to overspend at Christmas, while many households risk falling into financial difficulty in January due to buying what they can't afford.
With a demand for debt advice rising significantly every New Year, let's put less pressure on ourselves when it comes to spending.
Top tip: If you want to cut back on costs this year, try making a homemade wreath for a friend. See this guide on how to make your own one.
5. Time to reflect
Separated from loved ones, I've found this year immensely challenging. One thing I'm going to make the most of this Christmas is reflection — on both the year that was and what is yet to come.
As well as looking back on all the ups and downs this year has presented, I always love to use the Christmas break to make a goals list for the upcoming year. They're not really resolutions as such, but more achievable goals I like to set myself as a healthy challenge" (such as cooking, knitting, arts and craft).
"As we all look to 2021 with anticipation and heaps of hope, why not make your Christmas as refreshing and revitalising as can be. After all, it's not often we get to enjoy the peaceful hum of a slow and simple Christmas."
Words above/relevant links can be seen here