Once you're past the age of believing in Santa Claus, Christmas becomes something of a more complex experience. Yes, there's plenty to be enjoyed (time off work, a chance to treat your nearest and dearest, the annual acceptable window for drinking mulled wine), but it's not without its stresses.
If the thought of having all your family under one roof for a whole week with forced fun, TV re-runs and squabbles over Quality Street fills you with dread, why not get away from it altogether?
Yep, we said it. Ditch the usual traditions and instead make your own; carve out a few days amid the madness that's just for you. Book an Airbnb in the countryside where you can sleep as late as you want, eat what you fancy and do whatever the hell you like. Relax with friends or your partner or be totally alone if you want. In short: embrace the festive staycation.
Need convincing? In partnership with Rituals, the R'n'R authority, we've rounded up a few reasons why reclaiming Christmas for yourself, and taking care of mind, body and soul, might be just what the doctor ordered...
The joys of a digital detox
Screen time is the new sugar. Just like the sweet stuff, it brings us dizzying highs (a fresh feed of posts on Insta is akin to taking a bite of a Crosstown doughnut), but also leads to plunging lows (anyone experienced that flattened-out feeling that comes when you're aimlessly bouncing from social media platform to platform? Yup, us too).
A staycation is the perfect excuse to try a little digital detox. If you're feeling brave, go cold turkey and leave your phone off all day, save for an evening check-in. Or, while binge-watching Godless, slip your phone onto 'Do Not Disturb'. Play around with the settings in your phone - sometimes there's options to allow, say, calls from your Mum so you don't miss anything truly urgent, but take time to be off the grid and reap the relaxing benefits.
Why not add a candle into the mix - Rituals' Ayurveda Candle has Indian rose and sweet almond oil for a calming scent. You'll be in a zen state of mind in no time.
Step away from the To Do list (guilt-free)
Going on a summer holiday (plus a smattering of mini breaks if you're lucky) is great, but there's always that niggling feeling at the back of your mind about work. Knowing that your out of office is on, that people are covering for you, that the work will be mounting while you're away can be, well, distracting. That's where Christmas is different.
In all likelihood, most of your office/colleagues/clients will be off too so no one will be delegating to you, asking for your feedback, or generally clogging up your inbox. With work starting again in early January, this is your chance to carve out some time for yourself to properly recuperate.
'Whilst at work, we often get flooded with an enormous amount of information, relevant and irrelevant data and deal with high pressure of duties and responsibilities. This can be extremely overstimulating for the nervous system,' says Dr Irina Panihhidina, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre. 'In order to process the amount of information we receive, our minds need some time and space away from the excess of external stimuli.
'Resting and sleeping are not luxuries, neither are they a waste of time. They are duties to yourself, which only you can attend. If you do not rest enough, you are stealing from yourself.' Hear, hear, doc. On staycation, you can stay in bed for as long as you damn well please. And, for when your life gets more hectic, there are meditation apps to do in 10 minutes, or even on the go.
Make your own festive rituals
Having fun at Christmas doesn't automatically mean watching It's A Wonderful Life for the umpteenth time or sitting through another round of Charades with your extended family. Start your own traditions; listen to your favourite podcast all afternoon, not Hark The Herald Angels Sing, or take a long, meandering walk instead of watching the Queen's speech. Taking time to do what you want to do can be hugely beneficial and sometimes being alone is the best way to do it.
Take the chance to do some hobbies you wouldn't normally have the time to indulge in and that don't involve scrolling through your phone, whether it's reading or photography or nail art, and use the holiday to truly pamper. Taking a long, luxurious bath without interruptions is a great way to recharge. If you do, may we suggest Rituals' Ayurveda Bath Foam? The rose and honey scent is heaven in a bottle. You can the spa-at-home experience up a notch by adding in Rituals' Dao Massage Oil, and giving yourself a luxurious skin-softening massage.
Skip the family melodrama
With an endless stream of family members and tensions rising, it's hard to make time for yourself. If you can't bear the thought of sitting through another tedious discussion about your second cousin's university plans, there's no shame in giving the dramas a miss this year.
'Managing relationships with family members can be an emotionally demanding task,' says Dr Panihhidina. 'In close relationships, emotionally-driven responses can sometimes override rational thinking and interactions can easily become heated. This is when rest and temporary solitude are key.'
Recharge before the New Year
If there's one word that's even buzzier than 'vegan', it's 'burnout'. And with good cause - too many of us are experiencing the physical and psychological side-effects of constant stress.
With the pressure of gift shopping (take our tip: this relaxing gift set works for pretty much everyone on your list), festive parties and endless work duties to attend to, it's easy to burn the candle at both ends in the lead up to Christmas. So with New Year around the corner, this is your last chance to ensure you're stepping into January feeling refreshed rather than frazzled.
Avoiding caffeine, even just for a few days, can be beneficial to helping you relax before getting back to work so try swapping your morning coffee for Rituals' Ayurveda Rose Wisdom Tea - it's every bit as delicious and will help you transition into 2018 with ease. It may even be a resolution you take into the New Year.
Whatever you do this Christmas, treat yourself with Rituals' Ayurveda Collection, available now