Stress-free Christmas

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A heart charity says prevention is better than cure for people with potential health problems who are tackling the demands of Christmas.

With food and fuel prices soaring, a depressed economy and job insecurity all around us, many families are struggling to make ends meet.

Christmas is two weeks away, spelling dread for those already under financial strain.

A spokesman for the national charity Heart Research UK said: “The cost of the season’s festivities, the pressure of shopping for Christmas presents, food and drink, as well as being stretched for time and social demands can often lead to stress which, if not managed, can contribute towards heart disease, stroke and cancer.”

He urged people to “tackle Christmas head on” with these seasonal tips to help your pennies go further and have a stress-free Christmas.

The charity has issued a series of seasonal tips:

l Shop on-line where possible to save you the hassle of queueing, reduce travel expenses and avoid the temptation of making impulse buys;

l Use the internet to compare prices and get the cheapest deal. You can also print the details off and use it to barter down in store;

l If you have to hit the shops, set your budget in advance, go armed with a list and stick to it – only stray from your list if it’s going save you money;

l Be savvy and take advantage of in store offers - but, only buy the ones you need or you’ll spend more than you intended;

l Buy seasonal foods and in bulk to cook and freeze for serving up later. Use leftovers to make hearty soups and broths and bulk out meals with healthy, inexpensive high-fibre foods such as beans and pulses;

l Get the whole family involved in making and preparing – home made baking, chutneys and jam are easy on your purse and make lovely special gifts for loved ones;

l Table and tree decorations can be made at a fraction of the cost of bought ones; greetings cards, calendars, party hats and name places – anything that’s hand made is unique and it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect;

l Giving a gift using your time and your talent is especially thoughtful and doesn’t have to cost you anything – design a personal gift voucher for a gift of a massage, a manicure, some baby sitting, a car wash or walking the dog.

The spokesman added: “Christmas needn’t put a strain on your heart, with a little careful planning, you can make a big difference to your wallet and your health – make this Christmas a stress-free one which you won’t be paying for in the New Year.”

Anyone wanting more information about Heart Research UK should email lifestyle@heartresearch