As we all know, the Christmas holidays are a time for family, fun and relaxation. Or so the theory goes, because for a lot of us the festive season also brings with it all manner of things to take care of, from getting gifts and food organised to taking care of kids and in-laws.
In short, the festive period can be a stressful if we are not careful. So perhaps this year should be the Christmas to get back some of that old magic and give yourself the greatest gift of all; time to relax and focus on the things that make the season truly magical. Here are ten ways to destress this Christmas:
1. Plan time for yourself
We know what you are thinking; it’s easier said than done to grab those precious hours to yourself during the Christmas rush. But why not actually mark them in your diary, plan an excursion or just earmark a day or three to kick back and do next to nothing?
2. Get outdoors
In spite of all the postcard images of snowy hills and holly leaves it’s a slightly sad fact that most of us tend to spend a good deal less time outdoors late in the year. Exercise and fresh air are the best natural mood enhancers of all, so why not go for a gentle walk somewhere far from the madding crowd? Spots with great scenery (and no mobile phone reception!) are especially welcome. We should know, with peaceful locations such as the Elan Valley and Cambrian Mountains nearby offering some beautiful winter walks in mid Wales. We also have fine fishing on both the River Irfon and our own stocked lake, available all year round to satisfy intrepid lovers of the outdoors.
3. Beat the rush and breathe easy
Are you alarmingly well organized, or a last minute merchant when it comes to Christmas? If you fall into the latter category, it might be the year to get into gear earlier. Lists are a great way to get things in order, while gift shopping is so often less stressful when you start earlier. For those who cannot stand festive sales and queues, online retail is also a godsend. Not only is there infinite choice out there but the huge benefit of shopping at your leisure, whenever you get a free hour.
4. Treat yourself to some serious spa therapy
So many of us are generous with others at this time of year that we forget to treat ourselves. Whether you have aches and pains, or simply feel a little fed up with the cold, spa sessions are a fantastic way to revive your body and spirits. Nor are these just for the ladies; the chaps will also appreciate a soothing massage, with his and hers spa days also an enjoyable option. Our lake view spa, set in gorgeous Welsh countryside, is the perfect tonic for the Yuletide blues.
5. Simplify your seasonal decorations
Although a festive looking home is a must, so often we seem to go overboard with Christmas decorations. For less work, as well as a less tacky looking home, simple is so often better. Lose the giant Santa Claus and bling lights this year and go for a simple, elegant feel. Not only is it less hassle, but so much better for the environment.
6. Indulge in classic games and pastimes
In today’s digital age, tablets, I-pods and phones can have a fairly antisocial effect on families and couples at the best of times. Why not ditch the devices and revisit simpler times with some classic Christmas games and activities instead? Whether it is a traditional board game or making decorations together, you can’t beat some old school fun at Christmas. And if charades is wearing a bit thin in your house, you could always try one of these excellent alternatives from traditional games expert Simon Godwin.
7. Don’t overcommit
Do you find Christmas all too often becomes an exhausting series of engagements that you cannot turn down? This year, do yourself a favour and be brave enough to gently say “no”. Nobody will castigate you for turning down yet another cup of mulled wine or “quick visit” that inevitably takes hours. It really isn’t a shooting offence to turn down one or two offers and commitments. Give yourself a break, or perhaps suggest that you meet in the New Year when things are less crazily busy.
8. Do a good turn for someone
It is often said that the “real” message of Christmas gets lost amidst all the hype and consumerism. Why not think of something you can do to bring cheer to others and rediscover the spirit of festive kindness? It could be something as simple as supporting someone who is having a hard time, donating to charity or perhaps leaving a gift for one of the unsung heroes of Christmas. Doesn't it feel good to do some good?
9. Get into the spirit with a real voice choir
Forget the Christmas Hits compilations; as far as we’re concerned there is nothing to beat the sound of a real choir. Whether you seek out local performances in your area or attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, listening to a real choir is a timeless experience to soothe the soul. Here at Lake Country House we have Builth Wells Male Voice Choir as our very special guests this year, who promise a real treat to guests staying over the Christmas period.
10. Take Christmas Day off, or plan the perfect festive escape
If you could use a totally relaxed Christmas, free from cleaning, tidying and catering for guests, the ultimate answer is to give yourself a well-earned holiday. Here at Lake Country House Hotel we have a limited number of special Christmas breaks in mid Wales to provide festive cheer, excellent food and a relaxing time all round for guests. See our dedicated Christmas Breaks section.