"Cutting out 'expected' rituals for your mental health?" | Holiday Season Hints

On Sunday evening I sat and chatted with a friend about changes we'd made to holiday rituals to benefit our mental health and how we made peace with those changes. The thing is, there's a lot of expectation surrounding Christmas, be it spending fortunes on Christmas cards for everyone you know or even just getting to the Post Office before the final day. These things can be quite stressful, and in the end, we find ourselves feeling less than enthusiastic about the holiday season.

My friend told me that they'd stopped buying presents for people other than their son, and instead makes a donation to a charity that her friends and family were supportive of. Personally, I think that's a fantastic change of ritual because I know that today alone I've blown through half of all the money I have in the space of an hour, and everything I've bought is only temporary. However, donating to charity actually goes towards changing someone's life in some way.

A change I've made is that I generally post-Christmas parcels after Christmas rather than joining the queue at the Post Office in the days before the big day. Postage is one more expense during a month that's already tight, so it's easier to do it after Christmas when all other expenses are out of the way. Also, I like to think that I'm extending the period of happiness and feeling loved for the few friends I post presents to. I know I love receiving presents just before or just after Christmas, rather than getting loads on one day and then receiving nothing for another 12 months.

I also rarely send out Christmas cards. I have a collection of cards, and every year I write about 5 cards, one of which is for my nephew. Again, it saves a dash to find everyone's addresses and buy a load of stamps.

The final thing that I do is I buy small gifts for international friends via Amazon or eBay. It cuts the shipping costs, means I don't have to jump in the queue at the post office, and means I don't have to face a busy shopping centre as everyone's rushing to get gifts sorted out.

What rituals have you changed up a bit to make the holiday season a little easier for you? How have you made peace with those changes? How have those around you taken it? Most importantly, does it make you feel less stressed come the big day?