11/12/2010 19:45 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

How To Keep Your Spirits Up This Christmas

It should be something we all look forward to, but Christmas can be a stressful time for many - even a lonely and depressing time if things in your life aren't going to plan. And it can be an expensive time too, which is something that's guaranteed to sap your festive spirit if you've had to tighten your belt this year.

Many people prefer vouchers to Christmas presents Forget perfect presents, many people would prefer vouchers at Christmas. Photo: MorgueFile, mconnors

It wouldn't be half so bad if the whole stress thing was confined to just one or two days. But every year it seems to start earlier - thanks largely to the high street, which these days seems intent on reminding us that Christmas is coming as early as September.

There's all that shopping, food planning and buying, home decorating and guest inviting - not to mention being expected to have a big grin on your face right through to New Year, even when you feel far from cheerful.

No wonder some people find it's all a bit too much. So here are our tips on making it through to January in one piece...

Forget the perfect present
Shopping for pressies is often cited as the most common cause of Christmas stress. It can be tough to think of original gifts, especially if you're on a budget. But according to a YouGov survey, more than 80 even preferring a voucher. So if it's all too much, save yourself the stress of present hunting and buy gift cards or vouchers instead.

Don't do everything at once
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all those Christmas preparations, but if you break them down into smaller chunks well in advance they can be much more manageable. For instance, instead of leaving all your Christmas shopping to the last moment, buy one or two presents at a time. Or if you're cooking for friends and family, start preparing dishes early on and freeze them for the big day.

Practise relaxation techniques
In the run-up to Christmas itself, practise some calming techniques so you can call on them later. Try this yoga-based breathing technique: sit with your feet on the floor and hands on your knees. Breathe in quickly thorough your nose and out again fast. Speed it up and notice your stomach moving in and out with each breath. Keep going for just 30 seconds to a minute for a boost of bliss.

Resist the temptation to scoff
Too much rich food can affect your sleep and make you tense and irritable the next day. So avoid the temptation to comfort eat - which we realise is difficult at this time of year - and make sure you get lots of healthy fruit and vegetables. If you can get some exercise in too, so much the better (exercise is well known for its stress-relieving capabilities).

Don't worry about it
You may think the world will cave in if you don't have the perfect Christmas, but the truth is it won't. If your plans go wrong, just improvise. Who knows, it could even be fun. And if you can't stop worrying, try some distraction techniques: count backwards from 100 in sevens, for instance, do a word puzzle or imagine where you'd go on holiday if you won the lottery.

Does Christmas stress you out? Tell us how.